Practicing Qigong is a fun, wonderful, fulfilling, and minimal impact way to stretch and strengthen without the potential risk of injury from other exercise modalities.
In addition to moving forms, such as the Ba Duan Jin (Eight Pieces of Brocade) and Yi Jin Jing (Muscle-Tendon Changing Classic), standing practices also improve our strength and flexibility. In fact, as you progress in your Qigong, you will find that your standing practice, coupled with the internal work (Neigong) that you do while standing, becomes the more important and profound aspect of your practice and development.
Having said that, I also feel it critical to point out the following: Qigong practice alone is not enough!
This may go against the grain of some purists, but it’s true.
You must also include other types of strength and aerobic capacity-building exercise to help ensure you stay fit and strong, as well as help recover from or prevent the common injuries and complaints many people experience as they get older. We’re talking resilience against back problems, knee problems, osteoporosis, diabetes, early aging, etc., etc., etc. We’re talking improving your capacity to adapt. We’re talking quicker, easier recovery if you do become injured or ill.
Dynamic Energy Exercise
This is so important that, years ago, I developed an approach to fitness for myself that included the major components that help develop resilience, capacity, and improved health and energy. I called it “Dynamic Energy Exercise” and it proved so effective for me and my clients and students, that I actually registered it with the US Patent Office.
Dynamic Energy Exercise™ is an approach to exercise and wellbeing that integrates your body, mind, and spirit through the focal point of your breath. It leverages time-tested principles and techniques from Qigong and other energy disciplines, breathing methods and practices, and traditional martial arts. It’s grounded in years of study and teaching, rigorous and ongoing education in Medical Qigong and Classical Chinese Medicine, and continued practice and evolution. It’s extremely effective yet easy to learn and accessible to anyone.
If you’re interested in learning more about it, visit my other website, www.BestBreathingExercises.com.
Anyways, I mention this because I’ve learned from first-hand experience that following a well-rounded program is key to avoiding injuries, getting stronger and fitter, and staying younger and more energetic. Qigong and breathwork are at the heart of this type of program, of course. Then you want to add the other components. AND be efficient in your program so you’re not tasking yourself with having to work out all the time.
An example I am super familiar with is studying martial arts, especially more traditional approaches. For years I have studied Uechi-Ryu Karate (a traditional Okinawan style with roots in Southern China) and a traditional form of Tae Kwon Do. (I took some time off from martial arts when I became a mom but have been back in the saddle the past few years.)
My instructor, Grandmaster George Mattson, is considered the “Father of Uechi-Ryu Karate in America”, because he first brought Uechi to the U.S. back in the late 1950s, and over the years has run dojos, online schools, tournaments, and been a wonderful role model and ambassador of the style. Mattson Sensei continually stresses the importance of supplemental training as a complement and support to our Uechi-Ryu. In Uechi we train for fighting, self-defense capabilities, and self-development. We perform body conditioning and special breathing exercises. AND… we supplement this with exercises such as calisthenics, lifting and manipulating weights and weighted tools, and aerobic exercise to help build up our bodies.
Your Body is a Temple
Centuries ago, a wise sage traveled to a reknowned monastery to teach his version of Buddhism. When he arrived, he found the monks to be so focused on their spiritual practices, which involved copious time spent sitting and meditating, that they had allowed their bodies and health to deteriorate. The wise sage knew they would never reach their spiritual goals unless they also built up their physical and mental health and capacities.
And so (it is said), he developed the Yi Jin Jing (Muscle-Tendon Changing Classic) to help the monks build their strength and flexibility, begin to flow internal energy, and gain an appreciation for the physical aspect of their being. (This wise sage is also said to have developed a second classic Qigong practice, which we’ll get into at another time.)
The wise sage knew that the physical, mental/emotional, and spiritual are all tied together. In fact, many believe they are all…the same thing.
It would seem to make sense to embrace all three within your own health practice, wouldn’t it?
You Can Do It!