Archive for March, 2009

World Tai Chi and Qigong Day

Free Workshops!

Saturday, April 25, is World Tai Chi and Qigong Day. I will offer two free Qigong workshops on that day. These classes are part of a worldwide celebration of Tai chi and Qigong. All around the world, students of these two aligned arts will be practicing in community groups.

Everyone is Welcome

No experience is necessary to come. Beginners are welcome. Experienced students are welcome too. We want to build a big field of Qi we can all share in. This workshop will happen whatever the weather: sunshine, rain, or clouds. Read the rest of this entry »


Healing Tip: Bend Your Knees

Locking the Knees Creates Pain

Locking the knees is a harmful habit that many people slip into without being aware of it, a habit that can result in various chronic pains. You might experience, for instance, knee pain, pelvic problems, low back pain, neck stiffness, or tense shoulders. When the legs are completely straight as you stand, with the knees pressed back, it may seem like you are saving energy. Actually, you are putting strain onto your body. Locking the knees put pressure on the knees and pinches off some of the flow of blood, lymph, and Qi through your legs. Locking the knees adds more tension to your body because you have taken away the shock absorber effect that bent knees provide.

A Small Experiment

Do this experiment: Stand up and lock your knees. Inhale a deep breath, then exhale. Notice what that breath felt like. Now, unlock your knees. Release the pelvis into a slight pelvic tilt (this will slightly flatten the low back) and let the knees bend just a little. You want to get a slight floaty feeling on your legs. Breathe deeply in and out. Most people report that with the bent knees they were able to take in a much bigger and better breath.

Breathing is Easier

Better breathing is only one of the benefits of keeping the knees bent when standing. Keeping the knees bent promotes bamboo-like softness in the body, as contrasted with the age-ifying, rigidity of the knee-locked habit. You will be relaxing tensions, aligning your frame, rooting your energy into the ground, and strengthening your thighs.


Release Fear and Tension

Remember to Shake

A client of mine–Peg–told me this story recently. Upon hearing that it was 5 degrees below zero in the town they were planning on vacationing in, Peggy began getting worried. She and her husband were traveling there in just a couple of days.

But then she caught herself. “Wait a minute. I don’t have to go into fear and tension. I don’t have to repeat my worry pattern.” She remembered hearing on the Fun With Qigong DVD, that “If you can’t remember anything else about Qigong, remember to shake.”

Think Clearly

So she went in to the other room and started bouncing up and down. The Shaking the Body exercise soon released the tension and broke the fearful train of thought. Soon she felt calmer and more at ease in her body. She begin to think about the upcoming trip more clearly, and with her solution skills enabled. She was able to think up several ways to deal with cold weather she had not thought of and realized that the cold weather was probably about to break anyway.

Improve Your Day

Qigong can be used in these simple ways, everyday to improve your day. Sometimes taking one exercise and using it in a key moment can shift your whole day for the better. Sometimes, it may make an entire week of your life more fun, livable, and memorable. I’m going to shake right now; I could use it.


Exercise with Ease

Qigong is one of the safest ways of exercising there is. Because of the soft approach I recommend, this practice gives healing results with few worries. Essentially, to practice Qigong in a safe and effective way; just take it easy.

Be Gentle

Most Qigong is meant to be gently expressed. Regulation of the body happens with a moderate approach to the exercises. This gentleness and ease is also one of the secrets of how Qigong works. When you relax, you let down defensive tension states inside your body. Instead of unconsciously resisting health, you open to the gentle whispers, the subtle messages that inform and change your physiology in the moment, and heal concretizations of old injuries and bad habits.

Do Less to Gain More

If something you are doing hurts in some way or doesn’t feel right, back away from it. Do that movement with less force, or in a smaller way. Or perhaps don’t do that move at all. For instance, if your knees hurt when you bend them, consider bending them less. If breathing deeply makes you dizzy, it might be because you are breathing in excess of what your body is ready to do.


Wild Goose Qigong Workshop

“8-Pulling Waist”

Taught be Robert B. Bates, DC, MMQ

Date:                      Sunday, April 5, 2009
Time:                     10:00 to 2:00
Cost:                      $60
Location:               Robert Bates’ Healing Space
Street:                   1095 E. Axton Road
Near:                      Bellingham, WA 98226
To Sign Up:           Contact Robert


Have (Moderately Intricate) Fun

8-Pulling Waist (strange name, I know) is, for Wild Goose Qigong, a simple form. It is a set with a number of fun movements to play with. 8-Pulling Waist consists of 16 moves that take less than two minutes to perform. Some people like to do the form three times in a row for greater effect. Read the rest of this entry »


Wild Goose Qigong with Paul Li

Three Days of Refinement

I just spent three days with Paul Li, a Doctor of Chinese Medicine and a Qigong master from San Francisco. Paul has been studying and practicing Wild Goose Qigong since 1978, shortly after it became public in China. Before this time, the system was completely, utterly, unknown. It wasn’t even known to exist by anybody except the legacy holder, it was so secret. Wild Goose Qigong is a vigorous, involved, complex Qigong that has an immense number of different types of moves. For those of us that like intricacy and variety, it is a fun system to practice.


Bellingham Wild Goose Qigong Club Read the rest of this entry »


“People just have to get used to it.”

Wild Goose and the Biker

When I was performing the Wild Goose Qigong practice last Sunday, I did it on a former logging road that is now used as a hiking, horseback riding and biking trail. Sure enough, a bicyclist on his mountain bike came riding by when I was in the middle of “The First 64”. Many internal arts exercise can look strange to the average American. I try to avoid doing these type of forms in public places. I don’t do them to show off to strangers, I do them because they are such effective ways to health and happiness. I guess I’m a little shy. (But showing off to friends or students is okay.) In the cities of China, you find the parks full of people doing odd-looking movement practices outside. Not yet in America.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

Since it is important to be aware of your surroundings as you practice, I kept an eye on the bicyclist who rode by me as I was practicing the form. He looked straight ahead, avoiding looking at me. Maybe I should have stopped my practice to deal with this little distraction, but I wanted to get it done and this was my opportunity. He road past me, continuing on his exercise: I continued my form to completion.

Get Used to It

I jokingly mentioned this small incident to one of my students. She said something true: “People just have to get used to it.”

Promoting Qigong

She’s right. This is a one of the great ways we can add to our lives, and a way increasingly important in the over-stimulating cacophony of the modern, electro-chemical-financial world that is the technoculture we live in. We as a culture–and as individuals–need Qigong and similar internal-energy building practices. Many people are going to be doing these types of exercises. It is a necessary step in preserving health and wealth. I hope soon we will be seeing such exercises being performed all over the place. It will be a common sight; expected, understood and accepted.


Qigong on the Trail

Wild Goose Qigong

One of the methods I use to keep my Qigong practice going well is to take particular sets or exercises and drill them everyday for a while. I am currently practicing two forms from the Wild Goose Qigong system, every day. I am readying myself for the arrival of Wild Goose Master Paul Li. He is flying up to Bellingham from San Francisco to teach a review workshop this weekend on two forms. I’ve been practicing these two long movement forms—named “The First 64” and “Spiral”—so I can be super-prepared to absorb the refinements from his instruction. And for the many health betterments that accrue and get imbued into my body from these great and complex forms. Plus, its fun.

Practice Early or Practice Late, But Practice

Last Sunday it was getting late in the day and I hadn’t performed “The First 64” or “Spiral” yet. I was coming back from a hike in the Chuckanut Mountains, walking down an old logging road toward Arroyo park. Now, it is best to get your practice in early each day. Then it is done. Somehow, I can’t get myself to do it early, or at the same time each day. I’m not much of a morning activity person. Mornings; I like to write, work on the computer and plan. On this day I had been busy before the hike. Writing, and a morning Chen Taiji class, took my time. Then came the hike.

Raptor Ridge

Not too many flat spots on a mountain.

Looking for a Qigong Space

I needed, for these Qigong exercise forms, a flat space of about 10 by 20 feet. There aren’t many flat spaces on a mountain. Up in the snow and the trail-slush I had seen no space that could work. Now I was lower down the mountain and I found a spot that fit my needs. These were not ideal Qigong practice conditions. I was wet from rain, decked out in rain gear and the hiking boots on my feet seemed to have gotten a lot heavier the last hour. The hike had wearied me. But I needed to practice, needed to get day 60 in a row, on my way to a 100-day discipline.

Qigong Revitalizes

The little 12-minute practice was refreshing, interesting, and a welcome break from incessant walking. When I first began, my shoulders were tight and creaky, probably from hefting a weighty backpack for four hours. I couldn’t easily stretch my arms above my head. After the turning, walking, bending, stretching, and rotating motions of “The First” 64 and “Spiral”, my regular arm and shoulder range of motion returned. Overall, I felt a little more at ease in my breathing and body.

Gain Virtue

It may be small, but I feel virtuous when I follow through on my practice schedule and do my Qigong. If a 100 day practice goal is what it takes to get me to do these important wellness procedures, so be it. I feel virtuous and I feel better. I’m healthier because of it.