Qi gong is a Chinese form of exercise that is really more than exercise. The therapeutic effects of qi gong go beyond what you would expect from the movements. Most forms of qi gong exercise involve a number of movements that move the joints through all or most of their range of motion, but it is the way that the movements are done that is really important. If you know the principles of qi gong, you can turn almost any movement into a qi gong exercise.
Qi Gong Principles
- Relaxation is always the first and most important principle. Before you even begin practicing qi gong exercise, you need to relax your entire body. As you continue practicing relaxation regularly, over the months and years, you will discover that, in the beginning, you really did not know what relaxation was. You can continue taking it to deeper and deeper levels.
- Breathing helps to facilitate relaxation as well as concentration. The breathe should be even and smooth. Breathe into the abdomen, rather than the chest, but never force it. Coordinate your movements with your breathing.
- Awareness. There is a saying use in qi gong, martial arts, and Chinese medicine: “Qi follows Yi.” It is often loosely translated as, “Where attention goes, energy flows.” The same principle is used by Tibetan and Indian yogis, as well as hypnotherapists, to heat the body, temporarily stop the heart, stop a wound from bleeding, and other so-called miraculous feats of bodily control. Allow your awareness to rest in the joints that are being moved, or through the limb that is being moved.
- Grounding. Feel the weight of your body as you stand and move. As you relax feel as if you are sinking into the ground.
- Coordinate the movements with your breathing. All movements should be slow and smooth. Feel as if the movement is coming from the center of your body or even from the earth. It can take a very long time to get that feeling, especially without a teacher, but it makes a big difference in the effects on your physiology.
You will notice that many of the principles affect each other. Eventually you will find that it is all one principle, and when you are doing that, you are doing qi gong. If you do range of motion exercises before your your workout, slow them down and do them as qi gong. As you slowly shuffle forward in a long line up, become aware of the principles and turn your shuffle into qi gong. There are many times throughout the day when you can focus on the principles and change the way you move, which will improve blood flow, open your joints and increase vitality.