Friday, July 3, 2015

Introduction to Qigong Part 3: Setting Up Your Practice.

Once you have decided on the style of qigong you plan to practise and learned the basics of the style, you need to organize your practice. It’s not recommended to jump into your qigong exercises without warming up to enhance your practise. In addition there is a benefit to finishing your practise with a health massage.

Although I have heard, and read, numerous times that it is most beneficial to practise qigong early in the morning, or later in the evening, the best time to practise is when you consistently have available time. Qigong practice does not require hours out of your day, in fact just 5 to 10 minutes can be beneficial. However, most of the qigong exercises I do require about 30 minutes when you include a thorough warm-up and post-practice health massage. If you include seated meditation you may need longer than 30 minutes. The important thing is to decide how much time you can commit on a consistent, daily basis, and structure you practice to fit that time frame.

While it is great to practice every day, even committing 4 to 5 days per week is great. Again, decide on a schedule that you can commit to and stick to it.

I break my qigong practice into three or four sections: the warm-up, qigong form, health massage, and seated meditation. I don’t always do seated meditation with my qigong practice as I tend to use my qigong as meditation. However, I have found that qigong exercise enhances my seated meditation practice tremendously.

The Warm-Up

The purpose of the warm-up is to open the joints, open the energy channels, to regulate the breathing, and to relax the muscles. When all these come together you will be relaxed, calm, and completely present.

I divide the warm-up series into two sections. The first is joint mobility and the second is flexibility.

Joint mobility is a great way to keep your joints health. By doing these special exercises you will keep the joints lubricated, maintain active range of motion, and may prevent the onset of arthritis.

Flexibility is deep stretching of the muscles. By stretching the muscles regularly we can improve and maintain flexibility, keep tension out of the muscles, and help energy to circulate more freely. It’s very important to make sure your muscles are relaxed when you practice qigong.
Qigong Form

The form is simply to perform the qigong exercise series that you are practicing. It is important during your practice to calm down, move slowly and relaxed. When raising the arms and moving the body, instead of allowing the muscles to perform the action, try to feel as light as possible and let your breath and energy create the movement. Try to keep the muscles as relaxed as possible.

Regardless of the form you choose, remember these 3 main points of the practice:
  1. Regulation of the posture of relaxation.
  2. Regulation of the mind.
  3. Regulation of the breath. 
When all of these aspects are present in your practice, you will get the most benefit as this is the point where qigong truly becomes a moving meditation.
Health Massage

The health massage with a bamboo brush is something I learned from studying the qigong material from Shi Yan Lei, a 34th generation Shaolin Monk.

Basically you use the bamboo brush to firmly tap your entire body. This helps to stimulate the lymph system, circulation, to relax the muscles, and the vibrations help to cleanse the bone marrow-particularly when you switch to performing the health massage with the iron brush. The iron brush is only recommended for advanced students of harder styles of qigong and experienced martial artists. If the goal is general health and wellness stick with the bamboo brush.

It is recommended that you tap the entire body, covering each section 3 times. This takes about 10 minutes and will dramatically improve your health. When you finish with the health massage you will feel like you’ve just stepped out of a brisk, cold shower.
Seated Meditation

I try to meditate daily and I’ve found that a great time to perform seated meditation is after qigong exercise. Your energy will be high, your body will be relaxed and your attention totally in the present. This is why I’ve found qigong to enhance my seated meditation practice. I feel seated meditation is important and should not be overlooked, but whether you separate it from your qigong practice or not makes no difference.

As you see, setting up your qigong practice is not that difficult.

To recap:
  • Practise qigong daily, strive for a minimum of 4-5 days per week.
  • Begin your qigong exercise with a warm-up consisting of both joint mobility and flexibility exercises.
  • Practice the qigong form you are currently working on making sure to move slowly, stay relaxed, in good posture, and to coordinate your breathing with the movements.
  • Consider finishing with the health massage and seated meditation to enhance your practice.

In part 4 of this blog series I will introduce a simple qigong series that is excellent for health and easy to learn.

In Health,


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