Archive for December, 2009

Reduce Depression with Qigong #2

Below is the second of five videos on Reducing Depression with the “Old Man” Qigong Set.

There are three movements in the Old Man exercise, beginning with the Lung Movement, as taught in this video.

Open the Lungs and Release Grief

In the Lung movement you will stretch the lungs open, massage them repeatedly with relaxed arm movements and release sadness into the earth. Each movement is accompanied by a directed healing sound, one that is specific for that area, bringing loosening vibration to the cells of the targeted area. The Lung sound is “SHHHH” or “SSSSS”.

Contraindications for Practicing Healing Sounds

According to Jerry Alan Johnson people should not practice Qigong sounds if:

  • They have any bone fractures
  • They are in the throes of an acute illness
  • They are pregnant
  • They are menstruating

I’m not sure about the last one. It seems to be more of something to be cautious about and aware of your own body’s needs. Refer back to the second principle of Qigong: Modify.

Note: The “Lung” movement is also a Kidney strengthener. Bending over while imagining your feet are in warm water is–in the Five Elemental Energy conception–nutritive for your Kidneys.

Without going into it in too much detail in this post: Full, strong Kidneys give you energy, healthy bones, mental clarity, and a sustaining connection to Nature.

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Reduce Depression with Qigong #1

Below is the first of five videos of a movement and healing sounds Set that is very effective in helping to alleviate negative emotions. The full name of this exercise Set is Old Man Searching for the Reflection of the Moon at the Bottom of the Tide Pool. That is a mouthful; I usually just called it “Old Man.”

Many People Have Benefited

I learned this set from my Medical Qigong teacher Dr. Jerry Alan Johnson. He credits Dr. Her Yue Wong with introducing it into the USA in the 1970’s. Dr. Johnson told me that he gave these exercises to more people than any other healing prescription. He often found that very sick people were holding so much armor that they were unable to relax enough to let healing enter and spread through their bodies. So he taught them the Old Man to release their holding, usually to impressive results.

Open Blocks and Release Stuck Emotions

Following a sophisticated understanding of the Five Elemental Energies system, the Old Man Set opens blockages in the body so stuck fluids, Qi, and blood can flow again, resulting in healing. By upgrading from stagnant swamp internally to flowing rivers and rivulets, health naturally re-establishes.

Since 2000, I have taught this exercise to many clients. Over and over again they have come back to me with glowing reports of how well it has helped them manage or delete unhealthy amounts of blocking, sludgifying emotions, feelings, and sensations.

Many Emotional States Helped

I’ve truncated the name of the encompassing term of the video to depression, but the Old Man exercise is great for helping with many emotional weights, including: sadness, grief, impatience, judgementalism, anxiety, worry, low energy, unprocessed emotions, indecisiveness, lack of clarity, anger, grumpiness, and rage.

Below is the Overview Video of the Old Man. In the next post I’ll add the video detailing the Lungs and sadness tomorrow; and videos 3, 4 and 5 over the next week or two.

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Qiqong Sequences

Continuing my discussion of the Three “S”s of Qigong practice: Single Exercises, Sets and Sequences:


A Qigong sequence is a series of movements put together into an artistic form. I often call these forms, but many people use the word “form” for a single exercise or a set. I’m playing with the word “Sequence” as a more accurate, separate descriptor.

In a Sequence–or form–one exercises follows another in an arranged order. Sequences usually cover some ground with different types of steps, arm movements and torso movements. These patterned forms usually face all directions within the series of moves.

Forms are Artistic Patterns

Forms–or Sequences–can be seen as patterns performed on the ground, in time, and in the space around you.

Sequential forms are a more advanced way of practicing than Single Exercises or Sets (though not necessarily better.)

Sequences are like books or encyclopedias of skills and knowledge. Often Sets are created by taking and adapting movements from forms into successive drills. I have done this with the Primordial Qigong Sequence, creating the exercise Set I call the Delightful Dozen out of it.

Whereas the Delightful Dozen faces one direction and calls for about a dozen repetitions of each exercise; Primordial Qigong faces each of the cardinal directions eight times in a circling sequence and with varying numbers of repetitions for each sequential movement within the form.

In the formal sequence of Primordial Qigong, each exercise has it’s own number of reps to do—between 1 and 10 reps—before  flowing into the next exercise

Other examples of Sequences include much of the system of Wild Goose Qigong, including The First 64, The Second 64, Soft Palms, Spiral, etc…

Yang Style TaiJi (Tai Chi)

Every system of Tai Chi (at least 6 different major systems out there) has it’s short and long forms as a major part of their training. The Yang Style of Tai Chi Chuan, for instance, has a widely taught beginner form of 24 movements; the intermediate  20 minute (or so) long 108 movements form; and another, rarely seen, more complex, 108 move form.

New Frame Chen Style Tai Chi Form

In my Chen Style Tai Chi class with Bob Lau we practice something called the New Frame. This very long and complicated form (which I have a long way to go to really understand in a significant way) is made of 83 moves. However, most moves have several sequential components to them, so 83 is a but a method of naming. There seem to me to be about 250 separate moves. “Whew.” I’m currently learning a Sequence called Spiral Taiji from my internal arts teacher Bob Lau.

Advantage of Sequences

An advantage of working with Sequences is that they force you to be present and fully conscious as you are training. Spacing out and not paying attention leads to missing your next steps and getting lost. Sequences are a magnificent as moving meditations.

With the differing numbers done of exercises, the exact sequences, the steps being taken and directions to face, sequential forms are masterful ways of training your memory.

Sequences also encourage a the building of artful skill. Forms add a tapestry of artistic color and nuance to Qigong.

And they are fun!


Qigong Sets

One way to look at Qigong practice is to ask if you are practicing in Single exercises, Sets of exercises or with Sequenced forms. In this post I talk about Sets.


Sets are collections of exercises that have a particular theme. Each exercise is practiced several to many times as a drill. A Qigong Set is an organized collection of exercises that you practice in order, doing so many of each exercise before going to the next. A Set is not a hodge podge, but is put together with particular training goals in mind.

The Five Flows Qigong is an example of a Set. It is designed to teach basic principles of Qigong while taking you through 2 successive movements to build health.


One famous Set is called Shibashi (also known as Tai Chi Qigong.) Shibashi has 18 movements adapted from the moves of Tai Chi Chuan. Shibashi–and Shibashi 2 and 3—are modern sets, put together recently.

Eight Brocades

A much older and famous set—one with many versions—is the Eight Brocades—just 8 exercises, often used as a warm-up in classes.

Snake Qigong

Snake Qigong is a Set I learned from Jang Jie in 1995. Intricately designed, it contains 36 different moves, separated into ten sections.

An example of a Set designed to develop flexibility in the joints is another 18 movement set called Wuji Hundun Qigong. There are also meditation Sets, standing Sets, and many more permutations.

This is just a small, overview sample. There are thousands of Sets out there.

Benefits of Set Practice

One of the benefits of a Set is that it is easier to remember a number of exercises when they are so organized.

Another advantage of practicing a Set is that each exercise tends to support the effects of the other exercises.

Sets usually have a balanced number of movements on the left and right sides.

In my next post I will talk about Sequences.

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Three Types of Qigong Practice

Exercises Can be Done Singly, in Sets or in Patterned Sequences

There are a number of ways to look at Qigong in order to understand it better, methods of breaking down aspects of it into categories. In future posts I’ll talk about several different such ordering methods.

One way to look at Qigong in terms of how the exercises are organized: whether you are doing a single exercise repeated; a set of exercises drilled repeatedly and in order; or a sequence of exercises done in a flowing pattern.

For Simplicity, I Call These the Three “S”s

  • Singles
  • Sets
  • Sequences

Single Exercises

Single exercises are done by themselves, repeatedly. These are usually drills of foundational movements or meditations that help you gather a particular energy or develop a particular important skill.

These drills might also be taken out of a set or sequence and practiced alone. A single exercise might be a prescription for your condition. Two examples are doing lots of Shaking the Body to release tension, or performing many reps of the Inner Qi Shower to release and descend excess heat in the head.

Another example of this is building balanced energy in your hands for healing with the exercise Charging the Qi Ball.

The Golden Ball (also called 8 Actions of Qi) is an 8-movement single exercise I learned from my Medical Qigong teacher Jerry Alan Johnson. The Golden ball is particularly good at balancing your body’s Qi field.

Swimming Dragon is a sophisticated Single Exercise that is great for the spine and other joints of the body.

Reasons to Practice Single Exercises Include

  • to really deepen a skill,
  • to drill and drill for a particular need, such as an exercise prescription
  • to built a foundation necessary for later practice needs
  • because you are short of time

Get in a Groove

The best way to practice Single Exercises is to do them for a period of time, rather than a set number of repetitions. For instance you could decide to practice the exercise over and over for 5, 10 or 20 minutes. After a few minutes you will get into a groove. You’ll be riding a wave of a rhythm that takes you with it.

In my next post I will talk about Sets.