About a year ago I had the opportunity to attend an introductory series of Qi Gong classes that stretched over 6 weeks. And since my brain has all but given up on producing anything remotely creative, I’m going to take the “easy” way out and use this as my Day 5 post for Nano Poblano.
I’m going to share some of the things I have learned during the classes I went for, which isn’t much but was to me, pretty interesting.
Qi also known or spelled as “Chi” means life force/life energy. It can be equated to Prana in the practice of yoga, which refers to our breath/life breath. So the practice of Qi Gong is in the most basic form of explanation the practice of a set of movements that involve mindfulness (or focus) and breath, to enhance your life force. And by enhancing the circulation of this life force within you, improve your health in all aspects. According to Paul (the person who taught us the introductory class), Qi Gong forms the basis of all other martial arts movements as well as the more popular Tai Chi movement. There are many different schools of Qi Gong depending on the “master” that propagated these movements. Qi Gong not only involves the movements but it also takes into account a person’s lifestyle. For example we are advised to drink only warm water (that’s hot water mixed with room temperature/cold water), to avoid eating anything cold like ice cream (totally not practicing this one..hehe); the best times to go to bed and wake up, and how important living your life with gratitude and giving back to your community are.
I remember reading an article a long, long time ago about a lady Qi Gong practitioner who was able to heal a medical condition and live a life free from pain. In fact, when I attended the “master class”, there were people who shared their stories of how Qi Gong helped them with varying medical conditions. There is a young man who suffered from juvenile arthritis and lived a life full of pain, unable to move without feeling the excruciating pain course through his body. He started practicing Qi Gong from the age of 17 when for him, there was no other option. Today, after about 5 years of practice he’s able to run and teach Qi Gong. You can still see a slight limp when he walks, but that to me, confirms his story. The person who brought this particular school of movement to Malaysia was a cancer patient. She had NPC (naso-pharyngeal carcinoma). When conventional medical treatment failed her, she went to Taiwan after hearing about this particular Qi Gong movement and now, she’s free from it. Another story is of a man who had Parkinson’s. He attended the introductory classes. The first day, his wife had to lead him to the hall where the classes were conducted. By the third week (class), he managed to walk to the hall himself.
According to what I learned, it is the intention you put into and your frame of mind when practicing Qi Gong that counts as the most important component. Only then comes perfecting the movements. Of course practicing diligently every day whether in pain or not, counts as well.
The introductory classes called “Harmony Qi” is a mix-and-match of two different forms of Qi Gong taught by these “masters” from Taiwan. They are a husband and wife team. The wife is a third generation Qi Gong Master. Her grandmother and her mother are also Qi Gong masters. To adapt to the “modern-day life” where everyone complains there isn’t enough time and to also take their forms of Qi Gong out into the international world, they modified the movements and christened them with English names. The two schools of movements taught by them are known as “Young Qi” which rejuvenates, and EnerQi or the “Wild Crane” which is for over all health. Now, the funny, as in “ha, ha” thing about the Wild Crane movement is, if you directly translate the Mandarin name, it translates to “Wild Goose” movement. It’s even funnier when you say “I’m the haaaaappiest wild goose in the whoooooole world” while flapping your hands (a movement called palm trembling) and displaying a big smile. Can’t help but grin or giggle, which is a good thing because practicing Qi Gong has to be done with a smile! However, there is a reason that it’s called that. The wild geese are known for their strength and stamina to be able to fly long distances during migration, and the movements mimic the flying movements of these birds.
For someone who doesn’t really enjoy exercising or finds it boring, I fell in love with the movements of Harmony Qi. The Wild Crane/Goose movement made me feel so…graceful! I have, till today, no idea if I look graceful, but it sure makes me FEEL graceful. And I’m grateful for that because being or feeling graceful is NOT something that I do.
When the 6 weeks were done, Paul demonstrated to us a condensed/modified version of the Wild Crane movements. There are 3 levels to these movements (beginners that has 64 steps, intermediate that comprises of the 5 elements movements and advanced that has another 64 steps) and the demonstration was to show us what it was about, and of course to get us to sign up for the “master class”. I’ve added a video I found on YouTube of this demonstration (it is the beginners level with some of the 64 steps) but yea, I didn’t need a second invitation to sign up for the master class! I just completed all three levels and even though I have been a little lazy on the “practice every day” part, I still try my best to do so. I still enjoy the movements because yea..it still makes me feel graceful and cool (hehe), and don’t let those “slow” movements fool you. It ups the heart rate, the breathing and makes you sweat bucket loads!
Note: The link in the post will take you to the official website and you can have a read about Qi Gong, Master Bai Yin’s biography and I even saw a tab for testimonials.