Qigong is an ancient Chinese health care system that integrates physical postures, breathing techniques and focused intention to open blockages in the body based on the same meridian system used in acupuncture. The movements are fairly easy to learn and allow access to everyone. To begin to benefit from Qigong you do not have to be fit, you don’t have to be flexible; you don’t even have to be able to stand up. The exercises can be modified for almost anyone with patience that wants to learn.
Sometimes Qigong, like Tai Chi, is called a moving meditation in which the mind and body are led to a state of balance and equilibrium also known as homeostasis. A Harvard medical publication said it should also be called “moving medication.” The advantages of improving strength, flexibility and balance are pretty obvious but the advantages of peace that comes from the moving flowing meditative aspect of Qigong and Tai Chi are equally important.
My introduction to Qigong.
It must be around 10 years ago or so, I noticed that Eckhart Tolle was coming to London and you could book your ticket for an evening with Eckhart. I very much enjoyed reading Eckhart Tolle’s books, one of his books being bestseller “The Power of Now” and also his outlook on life resonated strongly with me. When I went to the website to book my ticket, I noticed that Kim Eng, Eckhart’s partner, was that same day giving a full day workshop at Hammersmith Town Hall, her workshop including Yin Yoga and Qigong. Having trained as a Yin Yoga Teacher myself, and always wanting to try Qigong, I started to think this might be a good opportunity and better option, so I booked one whole day with Kim for the same price as two hours with Eckhart.
It was on a Saturday morning, I arrived at the Town Hall and it was a nice group of people, not too busy but just right. Kim introduced herself and pretty soon we began practicing the Yoga and Qigong. I loved it from the very first moment. It was magical how you really could feel the Qi, or universal lifeforce energy, and how connected I felt to it. Time seemed to fly by and you could really feel a presence, a tranquillity, a stillness that spoke to us. I shared how I felt with the person next to me and he told me I should go and see an other woman who was in the audience who was a Qigong teacher in London and also a close friend of Eckhart and Kim.
In the lunch hour I walked up to this, little elderly but ever so beautiful, radiant and elegant lady and introduced myself, she in turn told me her name was Margaret, that she teaches Qigong and that Eckhart and Kim allowed her to hand out her leaflets for a workshop that she was going to organise in London a few weeks later. I offered Margaret to help hand out the leaflets and as a Thank You she offered me a free place at her workshop. She told me the workshop was going to be in Bayswater, an area of London very close to where I live, so when I told her that, she enthusiastically said: “Oh, but then you can come to all my classes” and that is how it started. From then on I started to go regularly to Margaret’s classes and also after a while incorporated the Qigong in my own practice and after some years I would share it with my students too.
Margaret herself had extensively practiced Qigong when she was battling cancer and the Qigong very much prolonged her life. Also many others battling with cancer or other illnesses would come to Margaret’s classes and it would help them cope and manage their conditions, in particular giving them energy and peace of mind too.
Last year Margaret died at the age of 76. We spoke on the phone a couple of weeks before, she told me she was feeling at peace. I think the Qigong helped her and gave her strength also in her last few weeks.
Here a video to the Qigong sequence I learned from Margaret and which enhanced her life so much. So much gratitude I met Margaret and received her teachings.
When the body is in a state of balance all the systems work better.
Much of the tendency to this internal balance is happening all of the time totally out of our awareness. With very little conscious input from us, our bodies are working to keep us in a state of homeostasis, that is, everything just so. The fight-flight reaction vs. the relaxation response is an example of the body tending toward homeostasis.
But in our stressed out world many of us are living in a continuous state of stress without even being aware of it. Without practice the relaxation response doesn’t always occur. Qigong can help us return to homeostasis and the relaxation response.
In addition to our tendency to stress there is a second profound tendency to move less as we develop physical limitations. Often the two occur together but either alone can lead to a downward spiral.
The health benefits from Qigong and also Tai Chi come about, both, by supporting the body’s natural tendency to return to balance and equilibrium, and also gently, yet profoundly, creating strength, flexibility and balance in the muscles and joints through gentle flowing movements. This is the winning combination: body and mind. The physical and mental practice continuously supports the return to balance.
Qigong requires no equipment. It can be done anywhere, inside or outside. It has been in existence for thousands of years and shares much in common with yoga but many find it less difficult and you don’t have to get on the floor!