Archive for Qigong Principles

Balancing Tai Chi

For older people falling is one of the more frequent causes of trauma. Tai Chi (Taiji) is a classical Chinese movement method for being more stable in your body (and emotions, mind, and spirit). In its full flower it is a potent martial art, but most people practice it for health purposes today.

Tai Chi Decreases Falling

Tai Chi is a practice that is proven to decrease the number of falls that senior citizens take. By extension, probably everybody who learns some Tai Chi becomes less prone to falling. There have been a number of studies that look at Tai Chi practice and vertical stability. I remember first reading about such a study one in the mid-nineties. A group of senior citizens were taught a simplified Tai Chi form 2 times a week for 10 weeks. Their number of falls decreased significantly. Other exercise programs tested did not give that kind of physical stability. Even months after the end of the class the number of falls amongst them stayed at the lower levels. There have been several such studies about the efficacy of Tai Chi. The one I am referring to is known as the Emory Study. It can be found (among other places) in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in the May 3, 1995 issue.

You Can Learn to be More Balanced

Taiji (Tai Chi) is, among other aspects, a precise method of developing body awareness, physical relaxation, structural alignment and body unity. If you are not too stable now, Taiji can teach and train you to become more physically stable, more dynamically able. Balance in your body, in this world, is not set in stone, but can be greatly improved. If you are like most people, when you were learning how to walk—and then growing up—you got little or no express guidance in the best way to stand, walk, stride, jog, run, or change directions with skill and safety. Few people have. You probably just scrambled and ambled as best as you could figure out at the time. This probably left some less-than-optimal habits that still influence you today, habits that lead to more or less instability. These can be changed with Tai Chi training.

Taiji wardoff 2d

How Tai Chi Improves Balance

Slow Movement: Slow and deliberate movement builds strength, body awareness and presence of mind. You can pay attention to motions that were tripping you up when you went at normal or fast speed.

Rooting: Rooting means learning to sink your weight into the earth. This makes you less tippy. You learn to step by sinking the power of the standing leg into the earth and slowly rolling your other foot onto the ground in front of you. You don’t go all out, all-now with the step, but rather commit in a steady, forward and down continuum.

Smooth Movement: Taiji smoothes the rough spots. Taiji polishes ratchety movements and crotchety joints.

Soft Stepping: Instead of plodding and plopping down you practice placing each foot gently. It is a foot “fall” only in the sense that feather falls to the ground on a breath of wind.

Kiss the ground with your foot; don’t stomp it.

Relaxation: Tension leads to instability, vertical uncertainty and wobbliness. The relaxation training of Taiji naturally brings more ease and space to rigid muscle fibers and compressed joints.

Breathing: By making your breath more full, low into the belly, even and smooth you gain an automatic improvement of stability.

Getting out of Your Head: Being overly heady as you walk is dangerous. By not paying attention to your surroundings you could trip over any little thing. Tai Chi practice helps you become aware of the ground in the present moment.

Tai Chi Secrets: Learning such Tai Chi “secrets” as the Loading the Kua, Turning from teh Gate of Life, Separation of Yin and Yang, Song, and Peng helps you greatly in your movement strength and abilities.

For instance, practicing the Separation of Yin and Yang; instead of being all balled up in one congealed mass, you differentiate the parts that are the stable from those in motion. Envision a panther stroking the ground in its majestic walk, flexibly reaching then bringing back—always stable, always soft, always in full control.

Find a Tai Chi Teacher

The form I am teaching this Autumn is based on the 10-movement form taught to those study participants. If you are not in my geographical area I encourage you to seek out Tai Chi where you are. There are more and more experienced practitioners and teachers out there. The sooner you learn it the sooner you will start to reap the benefits. A little Tai Chi practice can make an outsized contribution to your life. It is best to begin your balance training before you are a senior citizen, when you are likely to have more falls. If you have already reached that golden plateau, there is even more reason to seek out the practice.

The Balancing Tai Chi Form

The ten movements of the compact form mentioned above, as I am teaching it, are:

This short Tai Chi form is performed on a line, rather in circles like the Simple Taiji Forms. The line goes from right to left. It is easy to learn and fun to practice. Later we will perform the mirror version, stepping on a right-handed line. 

Left Line

1. Opening Tai Chi (Face North):

     – Feet-Together

      – Step out to the Left to Shoulder Width

      – Raise and Lower Hands

2. Ward Off Left (Face West)

3. Rollback (Turn Waist North)

4. Press (Face West)

5. Push (Face West)

6. Cloud Hands Left (Face North, Move West)

7. Single Whip Left (Face West)

8. Left Kick (to Southwest)

9. Right Kick (to Northwest)

10. Conclusion (Face North)

      – Step to Shoulder Width with Right Leg

      – Gather Qi, Press Crossed Wrists Down

     – Bring Left Leg to Feet-Together

 

 

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Five Facets of Qigong Training

The following five skills are the principles by which to train your Qigong. They are a five-sided diamond that shine light on your practice. These five facets are approaches, principles, lessons and lenses that make the Qigong work. You learn from them, receive from them, then transfer them into the rest of your life. They are why you learn and practice Qigong instead of many other activities you could do. Building skill in each of these areas is what makes Qigong a powerful and effective way to improve your health, presence of mind, strength of being, and fun quotient. And you can take them into your other fun activities.

Facet One: Structure

Good structure is the perfected, relaxed, alignment of your body. It is how you hold your bones, muscles, connective tissues, joints, etc. These are basic life skills that are almost always a surprise to Qigong students. We just aren’t taught most of these functionally strengthening methods in our culture.

Examples: Heavy elbows, relaxed shoulders, vertical body, open armpits, open hip joints.

Heart Regulation

Five Facets

Facet Two: Movement

When you take your structure in motion, a number of movement principles come into play. These include the quality and quantities of your motion, the rate and rhythm, and the keeping of your key alignments. Strength in relaxation is the result. Stability in flow is another result.

Examples: Knees on a track, no bobbing up and down, pelvic tilt, push from the back.

Facet Three: Mind

Learning to direct your mind is key to health and strength of purpose. In Qigong training you gain experience in grounding, rooting, and centering. You get out of your brain and into your body—an important part of staying sane and living an inspired life. You balance your focus and expand your horizons from a grounded stance.

Examples: Center in your lower abdomen, sink your mind, feel your bones, quiet mind.

Facet Four: Energy

In Qigong you learn about your energy centers, points, vortexes, flows, reservoirs, and rivers. Getting these down—like all of the five facets—make your body significantly stronger, more resilient, more grounded, and present—almost instantly.

Examples: The Gate of Life, the Dantian, the Microcosmic Orbit, the Bubbling Springs, the Taiji Pole.

Facet Five: Breathing

Breathing is probably the single most powerful healing magic you can discover and develop. It is free medicine you can imbibe every minute you awake. You will learn how to breathe more easily, deeply, smoothly, fully, deeply, rhythmically. Breathing better helps every single aspect of your body, mind, emotions, and spirit.

Examples: Belly breathing, 3/3 rhythm, spherical breathing, Kidney breathing, full vase breathing, breathe with the movement.

 

Learn and Grow as You Practice

Know what you are attempting when you engage in movement practices. Just moving is useful, but if you know why you are doing something you get far more out of it. You can focus your training to build a depth of expertise. You will know how to shift something if it isn’t quite working. It is a fulfilling, ever-growing, ever-glowing way to practice.

 

 

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Why Do We Go Slow in Qigong

14 Powerful Reasons for Slow Qigong

Many Qigong exercises are done slowly, sometimes very slowly. Why is this? There are many reasons that going slow is one of the best ways to get the most out of a Qigong practice. There is overlap between the many reasons given below, as every piece stated contributes to all of the other pieces. We are whole beings, not a conglomeration of separate parts. I speak of each reason separately for ease of personal exploration. There are more than 14 reasons for frequent, slow movement practice.

The Race to Slowness

Engage in the oft-missing luxury of unhurried movement. Life is so fast, especially modern life. We get out of balance with the speed, intensity, complexity. Slowness is something we miss, at a deep level, something we crave.

1.  Improve Lymph Flow

Going at slow speed activates the pulsing lymph flow in the entire body, because it resonates with the slow, rhythmic way lymph likes to move. An enormous flow of lymph fluid can move through your body. Optimizing your lymph flow will increase the many valuable tasks that the lymph does, such as clearing up cellular wastes, draining toxins, reducing inflammations, fighting infections, preventing illness and generally cleaning up the interstices of your body. Going at Tai chi speed activates the lymph flow in the entire body. Lymph likes to pump through the many nodes and vessels of the body at a slow rate: a six to 8 second pulse is ideal.

2.  Notice More

The more you can discern in a relaxed state, the more you empower yourself. Practicing any movement slowly allows you to notice more within the movement. You enhance awareness of sensations, your breath, where your mind is, and different aspects of your body. Going fast, you skip over things. There is so much to notice in your body that you never have before. The more you can, in a relaxed state, notice, the more you empower yourself. Take time to enjoy the scenery, to partake of the pleasures of movement. Learn and assimilate what you notice.

3.  Allow Time to Connect More of your Body Together

In Qigong and the internal martial arts you practice using all parts of the body. You don’t want any portions of your body languishing, lazing, hiding. You want complete movement everywhere. Slowness allows the ignored or left-out places a chance to engage in the movement. These shadow places are areas of pain, chronic problems, lowered function, and trauma. Getting them involved in the healing movement is quite empowering on many levels. Parts and places are better; and the whole is better

4.  Ground, Root and Center

Three of the most important principles of Qigong are Grounding, Rooting, and Centering. Each of these are easier to learn and enhance by going slowly. Grounding is when your body’s energy flow is equalized within and without (like the grounding you would do with an electrical wire.) Rooting is relaxing the tension downward to create physical stability. Centering is putting your mind into your lower abdomen (Lower Dantian.)

5.  Improve Your Breathing

It is easier to take deep, full, even, long and  relaxed breaths when you move slowly. In slowness, it is easier to integrate your breath with your movement. Improving your breathing is probably the most basic and most useful method of a long life of health. Qigong at it’s bedrock level is really breath training. Proper breath training can alleviate, improve or cure just about any chronic illness you can name. Chronic illnesses, whatever they are called, are, in a big way, a failure of whole body, healthy breathing.

6.  Switch from Fight/Flight to Relax/Heal

Our stressed out nervous systems are usually unbalanced in some kind of futile fight against the intensities of the modern world. The autonomic nervous system handles the various internal processes of the body like organ function, digestion, blood cell production and internal communications. The sympathetic part of this system is Yang—active and fast and easily overfed by stress. Slow Qigong practice releases the hole of the overworked sympathetic side and engages with the too-ignored parasympathetic side. It is the parasympathetic nervous system where most healing is enabled. The parasympathetic slows you down (think “parachute.”) The parasympathetic slows us down (think “parachute.”) This is the Yin aspect of the autonomic (automatic) nervous system of the body.

7.  Qi Moves like Water

Qi is a vast concept that basically means full, fluid, intelligent, enlivening flow. The Qi of your body connects distant parts of your body into one unit of movement. But it does it within certain rules of motion. “Qi,” it is said, “moves like water;” while consciousness moves as fast as light. One aspect of health, is the full flow of Qi throughout the body. Qi, like water, flows by going under, over, through, or around obstacles in it’s path. Whatever obstacles you may have in your body—whether through tension, injuries, congestion or compression—your Qi has to find a way through. Water and Qi are ever-changing. This takes a moment. With your thinking you can just be somewhere—poof, instantly. With Qi, which is the interconnecting flow of your body, it takes time. If you go too fast, you don’t give your Qi time enough to authentically flow. Going too fast is a mechanical approach dictated by your brain. Going slowly, you give your Qi time enough find its way and to strongly flow. Going too fast is a mechanical approach dictated by your brain.

8.  Coordinate Posture, Movement, Breath, Mind, and Qi

Aligning these five factors is Qigong. When all five aspects are engaged in synchronized, mutually-supporting, principle based concert, you are practicing Qigong. For instance, when you begin a move, you begin to inhale. Likewise, when you finish the move, you complete your exhale. All through, the movement is smooth and regular, as is the breathing.

The effects of Qigong can be felt very early in your training. Your body is not doing one thing while your mind is doing another. You are not exercising while thinking about the movie you watched last night. You are not haphazardly breathing while sending Qi to your toe and slumping your torso. Yet, it takes a long dedication to practice and refinement of principles to gain gobs from Qigong. (Remember: practice is fun.) When these five factors are all moving together, in a whole-body synchronization, you are engaging in great self-healing work. You will like what you feel and love not getting sick much (or at all.)

9.  Strengthen Muscles

Many of us use faster movements to propel our body into movement. We use momentum rather than strength. Throwing ourselves around with willpower, we drain our internal resources. (This is the story of my first 30 years on this planet.) Slow movement develops a full-muscle strength that is different than that unhealthy explosive power. By actively using more of each muscle in each moment of time within the full extent of a motion, we become more integrated. Your muscles become smarter, stronger, and gain greater endurance. More importantly, this kind of strength, this longer, slower, easier strength leads to more relaxation. The muscles of the thighs (the longevity muscles) are particularly important to strengthen and Qigong (and Taiji) are great at developing them.

10.  Relax the Heart and Blood Vessels

Cardiovascular exercise strengthens the heart and strongly pushes blood through the blood vessels. Slow Qigong moves blood through the body by relaxing the heart and vessels. Qigong helps regulate a heart that is often too anxious and working too hard. Moderately vigorous exercise is important for long-term health. Overly vigorous exercise is usually an imbalanced behavior that, if continued, will eventually lead to serious health problems. Besides the physical health issues of heart and blood, over-work of the heart and over-energization leads to unhappy emotional issues. A tense heart is also a heart prone to anxiety.

11.  Increase Body Awareness in the Moment

Practicing slowly is moving meditation. It is meditation that doesn’t put you to sleep. You can better access the peace and promise of this moment. If  you have heard of the benefits of meditation but cannot seem to sit still for it, trying these slow Qigong approaches. The moving meditation of Qigong brings your focus to the present moment, the place of healing. Moving out of the past, we let go of the dragging hold that past has on us. We can let go of fears that were once valid for us, but are not more. We can release, day by day, the hold of our previous injuries, mental, physical, and emotional. We can better access the peace and promise this moment. For myself, I would much rather move to meditate than sit. Many people extol the benefits of sitting meditation, yet, we in the 21st century already sit so much. Our bodies stagnate and so do our minds. Get off the cushion, off the couch, off the chair and get your calming meditation in as you move your joints, pulse your lymph, massage your organs, and breathe with Qi.

13.  Develop Smoothness of Motion

Gaining smoother movement is both a method of and sign of healing. Herky Jerky motions are indications of blocks and rocks and dry spots in your inner environment. When you slow down, you notice the places that are not smooth and fluid. The clicks, and ratchets, and hatchets in our movements; the sticky, stagnant, and stuck places; the rickety, rackety, hacked places. Noticing, you can take measures to bring more fluidity to each spot.

14. Release Tension and Finally Relax

Slowness encourages release of tensions throughout your body, calmness in your emotions, clarity of your focus in the moment and superior whole body, whole being relaxation. Relaxation leads to the healing of stored traumas and a sense of well-being now.

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Super Gentle Qigong

Qigong: The art and skill of working with the body, breath, mind, and subtle energies to attain health, vitality and longevity.

Highly Accessible Healing

I created the Super Gentle Qigong set for seniors as a highly accessible way to get some of the great healing benefits of Qigong. It is also an excellent practice for those new to Qigong, people recovering for surgery or serious trauma, and people with other physical issues, whether from injury or long-term illness.  

Standing, Seated, or Lying

Each movement can be done seated or standing, or even lying down (except for #4).

Practice each movement until you sense shifts of energy with it, maybe 12 to 20 reps.

 Key Results to Expect

  • Easier breathing
  • More energy
  • Stress relief
  • Improved lymph flow
  • Better disease resistance
  • A sense of greater peace and inner ease

 Super-Gentle Qigong Emphasizes

  • Hand and arm motions
  • Slow motions
  • Synchronizing breath with the movement of the hands and arms
  • Simple, non-Oriental, non-philosophical, not technical terms
  • Smooth movement
  • Equal speed of movement in both directions
  • Relaxation

Key Lessons for all the Movements

  • Belly Breathing
  • Equal Breathing (inhale and exhale the same rate)
  • Time breathing with movements
  • No muscle force
  • Feel all of your body

 

The Movements

1.  Hands Up and Down

Palms up-fingertips face each other at the level of the lower belly. Slowly raise hands to the chest. Turn palms over and slowly push them to the pelvis.

 Main Principle:  Keep shoulders down. Don’t use the shoulders to lift the hands.  

 Other Principles: Move smoothly.

                                Move softly.

                                Move slowly.

 

2. Turn Palms Over

Upper arms hang at your sides. Elbows are bent 90 degrees. Palms face down to begin.

Inhale: Slowly turn palms to face up.

Exhale Turn palms to face down.

Main Principle: Move hands at a continuous even rate. Do not speed up, slow down, or stop.

Other Principle: Palms face Earth/Palms face the stars.

 

3.  Open and Close Palms

Palms face each other at the level of the lower abdomen, not touching.

Inhale: Separate hands sideways, keeping the palms facing each other.

Exhale: Bring the palms closer together, but not touching.

Main Principle: Feel energy in the hands (heat, tingling, magnetic sensations, etc.)

 

4. Forward and Backward Rocking

Inhale: Rock forward on your feet while letting the relaxed arms rise forward a little

Exhale: Rock back while lowering the arms

Main Principle: Let body rest on the feet.

Other Principles: Build balance.

                                Become aware of the ground.

                                Relax the shoulders.

 

5. Belly Breathing

With hands on the lower belly, slightly press inward to activate muscle awareness there.

Inhale: The hands will be pushed forward by the belly moving forward.

Exhale: The hands will relax backward.

Main Principle: Breathe with the diaphragm.

Other Principles: Relax the abdomen.

                                Relax the chest, shoulders, and neck. Don’t use them to breathe.

                                Use breath to massage the abdominal organs.

 

6. Rotating Palms

Arms hang. Elbows bent 90 degrees at the sides. Left palm faces up to begin; right palm faces down.

Inhale: Slowly turn the palms over. Now left palm is down and right palm faces up.

Exhale: Slowly return the palms to the original position.

Main Principle: Rocking left and right balances the nervous system.

 

7. Rub Around the Belly Button

Brush your palms in a circle around your umbilicus, the inner aspect of your abdomen. The circle will start on the left and move to the right before circling around the belly button.

Inhale on the upper part of the brushing.

Exhale on the lower part of the brushing.

Main Principle: Aid digestion with hands and intent.

 

8. Rub the Outer Belly

Brush your palms around the outer aspect of your abdomen. Brush up the right side, then over across the top of the belly, then down the left side, then across the lower abdomen.

Inhale on the right side and upper part of the brushing.

Exhale on the left side and lower part of the brushing.

Main Principle: Aid elimination with hands and intent.

 

Extra Technique: Tapping Your Knees

In the sitting position, tap your knees with your palms. In Chinese medicine the knees are understood to be connected to the life force powers of the Kidneys. Tapping your knees give you energy, helps your bones, strengthens your brain, and helps you sleep more deeply.

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The Delightful Dozen: New DVD

I am excited to announce the completion of my new Qigong DVD.

You can pay through Paypal, or with a credit card. I will send the DVD right out to you. This would make a great Christmas gift, a way to encourage yourself or loved ones to get a Qigong practice going in their life for the new year. It is just $19.95 plus $3.99 shipping and handling.

Delightful Dozen DVD

Gentle Qigong for Health and Wellness

 

The Delightful Dozen

• Consists of 12 exercises.

• Teaches many Qigong principles you can apply to your life.

• Is accessible, doable, and useful for people at all levels of health

• Fosters internal relaxation and coordination of body, mind, breath, and energy.

• Is easy to learn. It is not confusingly philosophical, or super-serious.

• Helps all parts of your body become equal with the full flow of energy, information and awareness: left and right, palms and feet, arms and legs, head and feet, torso and legs, front and back, inside and out.

Developed from Primordial Qigong

Each of the 12 exercises is found in the flowing body of a gentle exercise form called Primordial Qigong. The word primordial here, refers to your original vitality. The Primordial Qigong form is a flowing, connected sequence of the movements, much like Taiji (Tai Chi) is a slow stream Qigong sequence.

I first developed the Delightful Dozen Set as a way to teach the moves of Primordial Qigong. Eventually I realized it was a marvelous practice in itself, and an ideal teaching tool for the principles of Qigong. It is a beautiful Qigong on its own.

After you master the Delightful Dozen, you may want to go on to learn Primordial Qigong, which I also teach.

Deepen and Expand Your Self-Healing Skill

If you have learned the Five Flows Qigong, which is the first video in this series, The Delightful Dozen will expand and deepen your skill. If you haven’t learned the Five Flows, you might want to go back and learn it first.

• For this new video I again take out mysteriousness and make Qigong as accessible as it truly can be. With principles taught on the DVD, you can gain great benefits from a regular Qigong practice.

• The Delightful Dozen is slightly more advanced than the Five Flows, but you can learn it as a first set if you choose. It is also an introductory set for Qigong.

• In terms of the flows of Qi as defined on my Fun With Qigong: Five Flows DVD, the Delightful 12 is mostly balancing, with some charging and some centering.

• I hope you gain rich rewards from your learning, practice and eventual mastery of the Delightful Dozen.

The video is divided into several sections

• An introductory section covers the basics of Qigong training.

• In section two I present and explain the moves of each exercise,.

• Section three is where you deepen your experience and magnify beneficial results by focusing on specific principles in turn. In order and over time learn and practice the Structure Principle; then, get the Movement Principle, Qi Principle, and Consciousness Principle.

• Once you have learned each of the exercises, you can go ahead in the DVD to follow along with the Full Set Practice in Section four.

• Once you are completely familiar with the set, you can practice it on your own.

It’s fun, easy to begin and helps you feel great. The Delightful Dozen can boost your immune system and could protect against illnesses…from colds and flu to far more serious diseases.

The Delightful Dozen trains you to be natural, at ease and empowered in your own body. By incrementally improving how you move, stand, breathe, and think, you improve your state of body, mind and emotions.

The Progression of Learning the Delightful Dozen

This Qigong is simple to begin to learn and most people begin noticing results right away.

Yet, the Delightful Dozen, like most Qigong, has layers and aspects more that add depth, breadth, sophistication that, as you learn them, increase the effectiveness of the practices and magnify results.

1. Basic Idea. First get just the basic idea down—a rough sense of what you are doing with your arms, legs and waist.

2. Structure and Movement. As you get better with a new exercise you begin paying more attention to structural details and movement precision. You also get more able to align the movements with your breathing rhythm.

3. Energy and Consciousness. After a span weeks practicing a move, the exercise becomes more familiar. Now you can begin adding focus on what the Qi flow is doing, how your energy is, and where your mind is. By this time you are attaining a complete exercise, one that is replete with benefits.

The Delightful Dozen

1.     Earth’s Breath Rises/Heaven’s Breath Sinks

2.     Separating Yin from Yang

3.     Holding the Qi Ball at the Dantian

4.     Circling the Qi Ball Along the Microcosmic Orbit

5.     Moving the Heart Through Time and Space

6.     Blending Fire and Water

7.     Rooting Left and Right

8.     Scooping Energy From Nature

9.     Dragon Washes its Face

10.   Stirring the Cosmos

11.   Drinking the Earth

12.   Collecting the Qi

 

 

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Master List of Articles

Here is a List of the Principle Articles and Videos on this Qigong Website

Note: These listed articles come from the Blog section of this website. There is also a section of Pages, which contains much information as well. The links to the Pages can be found to the right on any page.

Fun with Qigong Homepage

How to use this site.

Welcome to Fun with Qigong

My first post.

Introduction to Qigong

A video explaining the basics of Qigong.

A Simple Explanation of Qigong

What exactly is Qigong?

Audio Interview

A 55 minute overview of Qigong, along with a sample of the Six Healing Sounds.

The First Principle of Qigong

Practice. Preferably daily.

My First DVD: Fun with Qigong

A video guide to learning the gentle, powerful, principle-based Qigong set called The Five Flows.

Moderation and Fasting

All endeavors seeking health should not be excessive. Excess kills. Moderation heals.

Healing the Heart

Simple approaches to heart health.

Reducing High Blood Pressure

Video detailing some Qigong ideas for lowering pressure.

Breast Health

Exercises and resources from a non-invasive, vitalistic, self-empowering approach. Every woman should learn about these methods.

Inexpensive Acupuncture

Social justice through heartful needles.

Sudden Inhalation Syndrome

Shock breathing is normal but not natural. Learn how to breathe with ease.

Qigong and Fibromyalgia

Decrease pain with Qigong.

Simple Taiji Video

An introductory form to practice the principles and basic movements of Taiji (Tai chi).

Insomnia

Insomnia Article

Thoughts and exercises for working on that night-stealer insomnia.

Insomnia Video 1

Overview of Qigong exercises for overcoming insomnia.

Insomnia Video 2

Charge the Kidneys and connect the Kidneys to the Lower Dantian.

Insomnia Video 3

Warm the feet.

Insomnia Video 4

Draw Qi from the Lower Dantian to the feet. 

Front-loading Qigong

Practice extra amounts of Qigong before travel, expected stressful events, or busy times to come.

Hot Hands of Qi

Qigong will warm and balance your hands.

Qigong and Warm Hands: Part 1

A second class with the heat camera shows some fascinating photos.

Relax Your Shoulders, Descend Your Qi

Sink your Qi to relax your being.

Qigong and the Upside Down Snowman

Get out of your head and center in the lower abdomen. Health and joy await you. Let go of tension and sink your Qi to feel much, much better. [with a video]

You Can Cure Hot Flashes

Make hot flashes a thing of the past with this simple, powerful technique. [with a video]

Qigong, Vitality and “Limitations”

Work within your limits, but don’t let them define you.

Four-Part Protection Process

A Meditation and Medical Qigong Method for staying sane and clear in an insane world.

Alleviating Depression and Other Traumatic Emotions 1

The overview video of the “Old Man…” exercise.

Alleviating Depression and Other Traumatic Emotions 2

The second video of the “Old Man…” exercise. Lungs and sadness.

Alleviating Depression and Other Traumatic Emotions 3

The third video of the “Old Man…” exercise. Open the heart and release armoring.

Alleviating Depression and Other Traumatic Emotions 4

The fourth video of the “Old Man…” exercise. Clear worry, excess emotions, and anger from the middle burner.

Alleviating Depression and Other Traumatic Emotions 5

The fifth video of the “Old Man…” exercise. Putting it all together.

Three Types of Qigong Practice: Singles, Sets, and Sequences

Three ways you might practice: Focused, expanded, or sophisticated ways.

Qigong Sets

Understanding what Qigong sets are and how to utilize them.

Qigong Sequences

Understanding what Qigong forms are and how to utilize them.

Five Flows in a Single Exercise

One exercise can take you through all of the flows, if  you stick with it.

Preventing Colds and Flu with Qigong

These gentle, immunity-enhancing exercises truly work.

More on Preventing Colds and Flu with Qigong

Use healing sounds and slow, gentle, movements.

Qigong Strategies for Illness

How, when, and when not to do Qigong when illness is in the picture.

Qigong Workshops

A baker’s dozen of Qigong workshops your group may want to host.

The World-Famous First 64 Form

From Wild Goose Qigong, there is much healing in the intracies of these fun movements.

Reduce Stress with the Super Powerful Method of Belly Breathing

So much of a person’s stress arises from the backward, upside down, unnatural, but entirely common practice of chest breathing.

Pay Attention to Your Feet

With so much heady focus in our world, we lose connection to the whole of our bodies and the sustenance of the earth. Become more whole and balanced by paying attention to your feet as much as to your brain.

Save Yourself from a Lightning Strike

Crouch and survive.

Simplified Exercise Set

Sometimes an entire set is too much.

Open and Move from the Gate of Life

The Gate of Life is so important and so practical and so unknown.

Can Qigong Save America (and the World?)

We desperately need inexpensive, effective healthcare. Qigong is one of the answers to this urgent need.

Slap Yourself Healthy

Gentle tapping methods for wellness.

The Three Intentional Corrections

How to reframe and refocus your experience in the moment with Qigong.

Healing Knee Pain 1

Using the wall sitting exercise.

Healing Knee Pain 2

Success with the wall sitting exercise.

Change Your Life in Two Minutes a Day

Getting a daily Qigong practice started can reward you with big health dividends later on.

Bend Your Knees for Health’s Sake

Bending your knees helps alleviate many chronic pain symptoms.

When in Doubt, Shake

Use the Shaking the Body exercise to release fear, uncertainty, and tension.

Exercise with Ease

Be gentle and moderate with your Qigong to get the most out of it.

Qigong Will Soon Be a Common Sight

“People just have to get used to it.”

Spend a Billion Dollars to Save a Trillion

Qigong could save huge amounts of money, nationally.

Qigong is a Medical Bargain

It is downright cheap. It is gold that takes put pennies on the dollar.

Three Little Words Can Change your Life

The first three principles of Qigong: Practice, Modify, and Refine.

I Healed My Smashed Toe with Qigong

Using the gentleness and gentility of Qigong for giant gains.

Stay Centered or Suffer the Consequences

Multi-tasking leads to injury.

Breathe When You Type

Qigong is cheap medicine, easily accessible.

Train Your Qigong in Calmness

Qigong practice cautions.

The Secret Practice of True Wealth

Invest in Qigong and reap the lifelong rewards.

The Half-Half Rule

At least do some Qigong. You will be happy you did.

The Baby Bowl

Healing babies instead of watching the Superbowl.

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Qigong and Warm Hands: Part 1

On December 03 of 2010 I invited a friend with a thermal imaging camera to come to my Qigong class to take heat photos of our bodies and hands. This camera is a hand held device used primarily to look for heat leaks in buildings. We previously photographed hands in a class earlier in the year.   

The thermal imaging camera works great as tool for exploring certain aspects of Qigong. The swashes of bright colors give an overview of how someone’s Qi and blood flow are. The balance of colors show how balanced the body is. The type of color shows the level of warmth in each area. Extech i5 is the camera’s designation. 

Thermal Imaging Camera

We took photographs both before and after class. Our class exercises consisted mostly of slow, whole body charging exercises with particuar focus on the hands, Kidneys, legs, Dantian and Lungs.    

Following are some of the things we learned.    

First Student

Even though cold at the begining of class, this persons’s hands were much more balanced to start with than earlier this year.    

And the hands are way hotter after this class than before it.     

Before class hands

After class hands

Notice also how the heat of her head becomes more balanced by the end of the class compared to the photo before class.  She has distributed some of the head heat down into her arms, hands, torso, and legs. 

Body shot, beginning of class

Body shot, end of class

She is learning how to use Qigong to shift the state of her body in an intentional way.     

Second Student

This person’s hands and fingers heated up a lot from the Qigong.     

Before class: warm palms, cool fingers

After class: warmer, but with an imbalance

Though the hands warmed up signifcantly, an imbalance shows between the right and left hands. There is a bright circle of warmth in the right palm that does not express in the left hand. This might have to do with blocked lymph flow in the left arm and axilla (armpit). I suggested to keep practicing  with awareness of allowing the left flow to be open and equal to the right. The way to do this is to pay attention to the various sensations in both hands, gently seeking for more similarities left and right.

Third Student

These photos show that the hands heated up very well from the Qigong, and that there is more energy in the head than is probably healthy. Too much energy in the head is a precursor to many kinds of problems. After viewing the photos, I suggested she focus on her feet more to bring more energetic, thermal and neurologic balance to her entire body.    

And focus on the Dantian when practicing Qigong.    

Hands before

Hands after

In the photos below you can see that clothes keep the heat in. But both the head and the hands were visible and comparing them was useful. A hot head and cold hands are, in general, the reverse of what you want. Seek a cool head and warm or hot hands.    

These photos show lots of energy in the head and moderate energy in the hands.     

I suggested working on learning how to send that head energy to the palms and fingers.This is actually the essence of a Qigong headache remedy: Send the excess heat in the head down the arms to warm up the hands. The pain in the head will often reduce or go away through this simple prescription.    

Before class: hot head and cool hands

After class: warmer hands

Fourth Student

This person heated her hands up significantly.    

Before class: sort of warm hands

After class: hot hands of Qi

My Hands on This Day

My hands are usually warm to hot. They tend to heat up and turn on when I do hands-on healing work with people. People who have practiced Qigong regularly for a few years usually have hands that are warm, alive, and balanced in Qi. This is a generally true even at the beginning of a practice. Warm hands become a way of life. Warm hands, balanced left and right, are usually indicative of health.    

Before class: Robert's hands

After class: Robert's hands

Fifth Student

Here is another example of the power of Qigong to energize. This student’s palm areas (Lao Gongs in Qigong lingo) are warm to begin with, but his fingers and left thumb are cold.    

Before Qigong: cold fingers
After Qigong

With Qigong practice this person’s Qi and blood began to suffuse his fingers. This student has been practicing Qigong for less than two years, and is learning well how to reorder his blood and Qi flow.    

Sixth Qigong Student

This student’s hands show a cold and imbalanced profile to start. Notice the marked purpleness on the right hand. The left hand is more lavender. Both are cold.   

Cold and Imbalanced to Start

     

So much better after Qigong
Wow! Warm and very close to being balanced. This person has been studying Qigong for more than two years. He is making great progress in learning how to shift his energies.

Seventh Qigong Student

Cold fingers with some brightness of  heat in the central palms to start.

Cold at the beginning

Warmer at the end of practice

Notice how much improvement there is here. A little imbalance shows in the fingerpads, but overall, the photos show a marked improvement in less than an hour of Qigong practice. This student has been practicing Qigong for a little more than a year.

     

 

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Moderation and Balance Heal

Take Fasting Slowly

According to an article on Vietnam net on Dec 12, 2010, a man died after two months of fasting, reportedly for a Qigong regimen. This 34-year old martial artist in Ho Chi Minh City was on a water fast in order to clear his blood and organs of toxins so he could build up his Qi . Instead he killed himself from starvation.

Going to the Extreme Does Not Heal

This fellow was practicing a method to the extreme. Extremes do not heal, strengthen, or make healthy. Extremes push boundaries, but healing happens with balance and relaxation. The great, crazed Nietzsche famously wrote that “What does not destroy me, makes me stronger.” In the context of a personal health approach, this is nuts. Anything that almost kills you makes you need to rehab and re-strengthen afterward.

Gentleness Heals

Gentle Qigong practice helps us recover from the stresses, messes, strains, and pains of life. Don’t reinjure yourself when you are trying to heal. Don’t break yourself trying to remake yourself into something greater.

My Fasting Story

I once experimented with fasting after reading various enthusiastic books about it and it’s magic. These books weren’t written from a Qigong perspective; more from the American Naturopathic tradition. After I graduated from Chiropractic college when I was 25, I checked myself into a fasting institute in order to capture some of this magic energy and health that the fasting books promised. I wanted a jump start for my upcoming professional career. My water fast was only 11 days, not two months like the guy in the news story.

Fasting Institute

The fasting institute was pleasant. It was in a former residence in the suburban hills north of San Francisco. A lovely setting amidst the rolling hills, fields, and oaks of Northern California. The doctor and staff there were personable, knowledgeable and committed to their work. There were 8 or 10 of us there for the fasting.

I Got Tired 

My experience was not as promised from my studies and inquiries. Friends had told me that after 3 days I would be full of energy. Not having to eat food I would be on a kind of a high. Instead, I got more and more tired. I got around the place in slow, heavy ambles. Once a day I would take a slow, labored walk up the hill on the paved road, feeling a thousand years old in my steps. Maybe I was just so full of toxins that I never did get them cleared all out.

I Got Hungry

I was also told that I wouldn’t feel hungry after 3 or 4 days. Yet hunger never left me. I will tell you, just from this little civilized test, starvation is no fun. I hope I never have to face it for real. I got hungrier and hungrier. I never stopped craving food; never stopped thinking about it, longing for it, daydreaming of it. On day 9 of the fast I was the sickest, clearing toxins through my amber urine.

By day 11 I was no longer sick, but was so hungry, so physically and mentally frail. I was too tired to read much even. To have the time and leisure and books, but no energy for reading is a kind of a hell for a bibliophile like me.

Coming off the Fast 

On day 12 I came off the fast, starting my caloric intake with a glass of watermelon juice each at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Yummy. I savored that fruity succor. Another day or two of juices and then on to giant, dry salads that took an hour to eat, chewing at maximum speed. After the last day—number 17—I left the institute and drove home. Still weak and hungry, I craved fat and bought packs of macadamia nuts at a gas station/store. How delicious those were.

I Felt Weak for Weeks

I felt fragile and feeble in my body for several weeks after the water fast. I lost weight, but I also lost energy and oomph. It set me back, rather than vaulting me forward. It may be that I fasted wrong, or not long enough, or it just wasn’t right for my constitution. For me anyway, fasting wasn’t the answer. It would be 5 more years before I discovered the non-weakening power of Qigong.

Fast Moderately

Fasting should be taken in small amounts, a day or 3 for most people is plenty. Short, periodic fasts are a time-tested way to more health. Longer fasts may be appropriate for some people, occasionally, but I wouldn’t put much trust in going too long. Be careful of extremes of anything. Any extreme is an imbalanced state that doesn’t take into account the other extreme. It is a one-sided, lopsided, untenable position, for the other side must come along to balance out the lever.

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Breast Health Month (and Lifetime)

Natural, Empowering Health Options

Here’s a positive and proactive way to look at breast health. There are so many healthful, non-traumatic ways to work with breast health. Below are exercises, videos, a book, some links and some simple philosophy. The first information I share is from the Qigong tradition.  

One of the main points is to keep the tissues, fluids, and energies flowing. Stagnation is the breeding ground of disease. Movement is the keeper of health and progenitor of healing.

Keep in Mind and Practice

  • Keep the Qi moving.
  • Keep the blood flowing.
  • Keep the lymph flowing.

Here are three Qigong exercises that help with breast health.

Note: The Five Flows DVD includes Exercises # 1 and # 2 listed below as well as additional immune-boosting, easy-to-learn, Qigong exercises.

Exercise #1. Shaking the Body

Shaking the Body is basically just gently shaking up and own. Shaking will stimulate circulation, increase lymph flow, and release stagnation at the cellular and tissue levels. Shaking with intent offers many benefits. One of them can be to release a stuck, stagnant or hot Liver. In Chinese Medicine thought, such Liver conditions are usually a part of the toxic stagnancies like cancers.

Exercise #2: Streaming the Fountains

One of the great benefit of Streaming the Fountains is that the arms are repetitively, rhythmically, slowly raised above the head and then lowered. Raising the arms in this way opens the lymphatic pathways through the armpit. The greatest part of breast lymph is drained through the lymph nodes in the armpit (the axillary nodes.) By slowly and smoothly practicing Streaming the Fountains, the axillary lymph nodes are gently stretched and opened; then lightly compressed. A lymph pulsation then ensues, releasing tenderness, decreasing tension, and increasing flow through your breasts.

Axillary Lymph Nodes

Axillary Lymph Nodes

Exercise #3: Press Heaven and Earth

Press Heaven and Earth is a similar exercise to Streaming the Fountains in that you are raising the arms and drawing energy up and down the body vertically. It comes from the ancient 8 Silken Brocades Set. Once learned well, it is even more effective in moving stuck Qi in the chest and opening the armpit nodes than Streaming the Fountains.

Press Heaven and Earth Instructions

Slowly, over 3 to 5 seconds, press and stretch one hand high and one low. The high hand is over the head and the lower hand at the outer thigh. The upper palm is bent on the stretches, with fingers facing inward. The lower palm stretches down at the side of the thigh. Exhale as hands go away from each other. Inhale as they come toward each other, crossing at the chest. This also is done slowly over 3 to 5 seconds. The slowness allows a smoothness of movement and empowered lymph flow to take place. The hands also twist as they rise or sink, especially the rising hand.

Raise and Lower Simultaneously

Open the lymph nodes

Open the Armpit/Push Down

Relax Arms Down and Up

Twist the Palm as it Rises

Now the Opposite Armpits are Open or Closed

Medical Qigong for Breast Health

The International Institute of Medical Qigong has a DVD on using Qigong exercises for breast health and breast cancer prescriptions. These exercises use circular movements of the hands to increase breast Qi flow and special healing sounds. The teacher on the video is Jerry Alan Johnson, my own Medical Qigong instructor.

Lymphatic Self-Massage

Here is a short video of a lymphatic pumping breast massage, basic but powerful and important. Some 70 percent of the lymph of the breasts flows to and through the axillary nodes. It is very, very important to keep these pathways open and always flowing. Flowing lymph clears stagnations that might otherwise lead to disease.

Dressed to Kill

The book Dressed to Kill makes the argument that tight bras lead to an increase in breast cancer. Some authorities pooh pah this assertion. It makes clear sense to me, however. A tight bra will compress the skin and lymph flow of the breast, especially in the most important channel along the upper, outside ribs toward the armpit. Many women, after learning about this, rethink their bra choices and bra-wearing patterns. Basically, wearing bras less often; wearing bras more loosely; and keeping the flows a going. 

Dressed to Kill with Cancer

 

Those that might dismiss this book as pseudoscience are missing the point: That marketing undergarments is a science, one based on profit, not truth. And from my extensive studies in Qigong, Lymph Drainage Therapy, Visceral Manipulation, and Cranio-Sacral Therapy—I think the authors of the book have a strong message that needs to be listened to and explored further. 

Chinese Medicine for Breast Health

Here is a site devoted to the natural, Chinese Medicine thinking about breast health and approaching breast cancer through Qigong, acupressure and other proven natural methods.

Lymph Drainage Therapy

The superb system of Lymph Drainage Therapy has even more sophisticated approaches to working on the breasts. Anyone who has taken the second course in LDT from the Chikly Health Institute (formerly with the Upledger Institute) has learned the Breast Drainage approach. You might want to find a qualified therapist to help with this. Note: Different states, regions or countries have different laws for which licensed therapists can work on breasts.

Daily Breast Massage

Here is a video that is more of a teaser; it doesn’t show the breast massage techniques, just some women talking about the process. The video looks like it might be worth exploring, worth getting the DVD if it speaks to you.

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Inhale Well and Speak Easily

One of the prime reasons to pursue Qigong is to get more energy. One of the Qigong ways to get more energy is working with breathing. Qigong breathing practices could be looked at as the foundation, or the essential aspect, of Qigong.

Sudden Inhalation Syndrome

There are many aspects to becoming a better breather, and many benefits. One of the aspects is becoming aware in your daily life of how you are breathing. Lately I have been noticing how some people have a pattern of speaking that can’t be good for them. I call this pattern Sudden Inhalation Syndrome.

What people with this habit do is take a rapid, high-chest, short, intense inhale before quickly speaking. It is a quick, strong sniff followed even more quickly with talking. Most people with such patterns are not aware of them.

This is Shock Breathing

Grasping such fast, small breaths emulates the kind of inhale a person takes when they are suddenly shocked by something unexpected or fearful. It is the breath of surprise and fear. Try a few of those breaths yourself, right now. Do you feel how intense the experience is? Such a breath can immediately lead to feelings of anxiety, uncertainty, unsteadiness, and dizziness. This breath method uses only secondary or tertiary breathing muscles to pull in air, creating muscular tension in the upper chest and neck and throat. It compresses the heart, constricts the throat, and compromises the lungs.

This collection of mental, emotional and physical states is not the ideal platform for speaking.

So Many Symptoms from Shock Breathing

Other possible symptoms include headaches, jaw pain, back pain and shoulder issues. Because the heart is being compressed along with very little abdominal expansion on the inhales, high blood pressure will come. Stress, fatigue, low grade frequent illness, digestive issues and elimination issues are likely as well. Sudden inhalations into the chest before speaking is a type of stress breathing. It overstimulates the fight, flight, fright, freeze mechanisms of the Sympathetic Nervous system. (By the way, the Sympathetic Nervous system doesn’t have much sympathy; It is all about survival in the midst of danger.)

Causes of Sudden Inhalation Syndrome

There are many reasons someone might be a a quick breath speaker with Sudden Inhalation Syndrome. Most of the reasons have to do with upbringing and emotional trauma earlier in life. For most people there is a something about having to get in a word as soon as possible after someone else was speaking. Whatever the causes, becoming aware of the pattern and retraining it, will lead to much healing.

I doubt recreating the experience of shock over and over again all day long is what most people want to do.

Breathe with Relaxation

Breathe...Then Speak

What to Do

Watch how you talk. Learn to notice when you breathe-speak this way. Give yourself reminders to check in frequently on yourself. Little stickers posted around are good for this. I like to give little green dots to my clients and students. This is a simple, cheap, and effective retraining technology.

“Ding”

Another method is to find a kind (a sympathetic) friend or coworker to help you notice. In Toastmasters, budding speakers are taught to eliminate verbal fillers like “ah,” “uhm”, and “you know” with a bell. Every time a speaker says a filler, the bellmaster rings the bell. In real time the speaker gets feedback. It takes only a few weeks to drop fillers to 5 to 10% of what they were. Have your watchful friend say “ding” or something else you choose when they catch you suddenly inhaling before speaking.

Also, when someone else is speaking, keep breathing. Don’t hold you breath.

Teach people who interrupt you to give you a chance to collect your thoughts and your oxygen when it is your turn to speak. As an adult, you don’t have to rush in to be heard, at least not in most of your life.

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