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Why practice Qigong?

What better place to start than the word Qigong. If you are unsure how to pronounce it, don't worry, you are not alone. I am asked this question so often I have lost count. It is Qi (pronounced chi/chee) and Gong (pronounced gung), but I really wouldn't worry about it. What really matters is connecting with the idea of Qi and experiencing it.

There are slightly different translations and spellings between Chinese and Taiwanese and Hong Kong. Here we will focus on the Chinese. Qi means energy/vital force, and Gong translates to skill/exercise/practice. Qigong refers to an energy practice that requires skill in coordinating slow breathing with flowing movement.

It is often referred to as a moving meditation, and is designed to support physical, mental and spiritual health. For those of us that struggle to calm the mind and sit still, this is a great alternative or addition to existing meditation routines.

Qigong, also known as Tai Chi for health, is an energy breath practice that was founded in China and first heard of around 4000 years ago. It is now considered a part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and helps balance the mind, body and spirit. Since its origin it has had different purposes, from religious and spiritual to training soldiers.

This really shows how extensive the benefits can be, and I have certainly seen the benefits in myself and those I teach. The Yin Yang symbol encapsulates the Tai Chi philosophy of balance and energy flow.

Qigong is a way of encouraging the energy flow around our system and improving balance and vitality. Notice that I have said system opposed to body, and the reason for this is that we are not just a physical vessel of tissue and organs etc. Our system is a whole mind-body amalgamation that extends beyond our skin and into the world around us.

Qigong is a wellness system in its own right. The more we understand Qi the more we see we are a part of a wider whole and always connected. The more connected we are to the Universe (nature, community, movement, creativity etc) the more we are in natural flow.

What is Qi and why do we want to get it flowing? Qi is a force that flows through all life, it is the energy that makes up the Universe, and it is your life force. It is vital energy. In TCM all health issues come down to an imbalance of Qi, which can mean that the system is either depleted or has excess energy. This is a simplified explanation of TCM, but it illustrates the main point for our purpose here.

Qi is as essential to us as the air we breathe, and it is said that in ancient times the word 'air' was borrowed to give Qi its name.(1) Every living thing is born with this life force energy, which comes from the original source of Qi, named One-qi. In modern western life we tend to live in chronic imbalance, and have lost connection to this life force.

Through Qigong we can re-cultivate this Qi energy flow in our system, and feel more connected to the body and wider Universal energy, which in turn can help us feel more connected in our daily life. This can improve our relationships to people, nature, work and more. This breath practice helps our body function as it should, and stay healthier for longer.

Research has shown it can improve health conditions, such as Parkinson's and high blood pressure. It also helps reduce stress and anxiety, and helps us feel more resilient in daily life. It can be a great option for long term conditions, such as chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and long covid. My class members often report better sleep, less aches and pain, and feeling calmer.

Anyone can practice Qigong! It is very adaptable for a range of needs. The earlier we begin, the more benefit we will get in later life. I believe that it all starts with the initial simple and gentle practice of reconnecting with yourself, and remembering how to listen to your body and grow self-compassion and acceptance.

It is more than just an exercise. As we are often told, we cannot flow from an empty cup. So, Qigong is one way to fill your cup so that you can be present in the world as a truer version of yourself!

I discovered Qigong when I was heading for a CFS/ME health crisis, and daily practice has been an essential part of recovering my health over the past six years. Morning Qigong has become an important ritual. I have trained as a Shibashi Qigong instructor and now share this beautiful practice with people as far and wide as I can.

When I see someone connect with Qigong for the first time, it is so rewarding. A new student recently described it as finding an exercise that goes with the body, instead of against it. Wise words! It has changed my life, and it might just be the gentle exercise and grounding meditation that you have been looking for.

Ways to explore Qigong with me:

-Qigong & EFT tapping groups in Norfolk, Trimingham Hall. Upcoming dates 19th May, 9th June & 14th July. £14. Book now.

-Online or in-person 1:1 sessions £47

-Weekly Qigong class Thursdays at North Norfolk Physio, Aylsham. Block of 6 £66.

-Qigong & relaxation groups (Hens, workplace, community etc)

-Keep an eye out for special Qigong events throughout the year. I am planning an outdoors event this summer.

Book and connect with Qigong:

References- This blog post has been written from personal experience of Qigong and referencing the below training information,website and book:

Tai chi for better health training material and blog

(1+) Chi- discovering your life energy, Master Waysun Liao. Shambala Publications 2009.

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