**This article originally appeared as “Happy Fun Qigong.”Qi Journal, Vol. 25, No 3, Autumn 2015.**
By John Voigt
1. Sensing qi.
Another fun and seemingly magical gymnastic is to have the group rub their hands together, then have them pretend they are playing small accordions. When their hands go out, they should inhale. When the hands come in, they should exhale. I have them do this for awhile, and then ask, “Does anyone see the qi between your hands?” If no one does, I suggest they look for an ethereal mist, a commonly used description of qi energy. (The Chinese word “Qi” originally meant “vapor”—like the phosphorescent mist you see hovering over a lake very early in the morning.) We do some more squeezing in and out then I ask, “What does it feel like?” If they do sense it, their answers often are, a heaviness, a tingling, magnetic, electromagnetic, prickly, it’s hot, cold, a suction. If they see or feel nothing, I tell them, to imagine it. Using the imagination can be effective in preparing someone to gain more skills in their qigong practices.
2. Forming a qi ball.
Have them mold a ball out of the qi between their hands; as if the qi were a clump of moist flour dough and it was being kneaded on a cutting board. If they don’t get it tell them “Pretend you’re playing a game.”
3. Tossing the qi ball.
Now have them toss the qi ball from one hand to the other. Tell them to watch the ball as it goes back and forth (that will enhance the experience). Suggest they feel the ball in their hands when they catch it.
4. Lifting the qi ball.
Then have them lift the ball from side to side. The right-hand lifts the qi ball up to the left shoulder and holds it there for a few seconds. Then the right hand comes back down dropping the ball into the left hand. Then the left hand lifts the ball to the right shoulder, holds it for a few seconds, and returns down dropping the ball into the right hand. These movements should be repeated for a few minutes. Once people are comfortable doing this, when the hand is at its zenith they should toss the ball a tiny bit straight up in the air, and quickly catch it.
5. Tossing the qi ball around.
This is an exercise in which we create through our imaginations the sensations of sending and receiving qi with other people. We pretend we are all at a playground tossing our newly created qi balls to each other. I occasionally stir the process up by saying, “Hey, not so hard!” when they toss the ball too vigorously at me. Imagination is wonderful. You can do so much with it if you only allow yourself to.
6. Basketball – the Qi way.
Here is a way to combine all the Qi Ball gymnastics. I call it the “Free Throw Game.” I introduce this by saying, Did you ever watch an NBA basketball player shooting a free throw? Next time you do, study how he coordinates his breath, body posture, and mind to project a ball towards a basketball hoop. That is pure qigong ladies and gentleman: body, breath, mind, energy all being used together. Okay, time to play ball. Feel that energy ball as a basket ball between your hands. Toss it from hand to hand. Take a deep breath and imagine you are LeBron James (or your favorite basketball player) and walk around and bounce it off the floor, dribble it. Hold the ball in front of your the solar plexus (the second dantian). Center yourself by breathing into the lower abdomen and allow gravity to ground you. Take a few more deep breaths and fill your lower belly dantian with pure high powered qi-energy. Your whole torso should feel like a balloon filled with water, pleasantly heavy and bouncy. Once again feel the energy resonance between your hands and the basketball. Mentally picture seeing the ball going into the hoop, and after that relax your shoulders and entire body and toss the ball in. Another point for your side.
Happy Fun Animal Frolics.
In ancient times Chinese Shamans, usually women called “Wu”, would do ritualistic dances to gain the energetic powers of animals and birds. As time passed such practices were recast into the first documented qigong form, the classic Wu Qin Xi, or Five Animal Frolics.4 But be prepared for a new spin on an old theme. Our Happy Fun version may look more like dances from1960’s—as in the Bird, the Duck, the Funky Chicken, the Horse, the Pony, the Raccoon, the Dog, the Funky Penguin, the Monkey, etc.
Tarzan Thumps His CV-19 and Makes the Victory Cry of the Bull Ape. The ancient Chinese were not the only ones seeking
to gain the power of wild animals, Tarzan did too. Here is a Happy Fun Qigong TCM version: With closed soft fists, or with percussive fingertips, thump or tap on the center of your upper chest, between the breasts (over and around the acupuncture point CV-19). Do this about twelve times and not too hard. Then you might add your version of Tarzan’s Call of the King of the Jungle – however, this is optional, especially in public. You can hear and see it on many YouTube sites, just type in “Tarzan Call.”
This type of exercise is said to revitalize the thymus gland, a source of T-lymphocytes (T cells), which kill virally or bacterially infected cells and naturally eradicate cancer cells. I have no idea what benefits accrue from making that weird Call of the Jungle – but it is so much fun I like to do it anyway, and suggest you might too.
If any women have a problem with visualizing themselves as a semi-nude male pretending he is a big monkey doing silly things and making funny sounds, this gymnastic can work just as well for them if they turn themselves into a Jane the Queen of the Jungle Beats On Her CV-19. The original Jane did; go to YouTube and search Jane Tarzan call.
Make your hands into tiger claws. The hands are cupped and squeezed in as if squeezing a tennis ball, but the middle finger is a bit extended. Members of the group can walk around waving their claws at each other. Any growling is optional. Occasionally they should bend forward and trust out their arms and grasp at imaginary prey with their paws.
Squeezing your hands this way will compress qi and cause it to be absorbed into the fingers, hands, and possibly into the muscles and bones of the arms and shoulders. This resembles a martial art technique called “Iron Shirt” which internally armors the body to prevent injury. Tiger qigong is said to be good for the Liver, and also to stimulate the flow of qi in the du mài and rèn mài channels of the microcosmic orbit (the major pathway of qi up the back and down the front of the torso.) The grasping motions help open the six acupuncture points at the tips of the fingers.
The Phoenix is a mythological creature that reincarnates itself by rising from the ashes of its past. In Chinese Mythology it is called Feng-huang, the “Bird of Wonder,” and signifies the merging of masculine (yang) and feminine (yin) life forces, which brings about good fortune. So in this gymnastic there is an implied re-birthing of the self along with the gaining of good fortune. That all sounds pretty good to me.
With feet spread apart wider than shoulder width, turn to the right, inhale and keeping the wrists limp and fingers hanging down, lift the arms up by your sides. The heel of the left foot should rise up as you do this. When the hands are level with the ears, open and unfold your hands and arms out to your sides as if you were a beautiful Phoenix unfolding its wings. Pause as if you were floating high up in the sky. Then slowly exhale and float your arms (wings) back down and return to facing forward with arms hanging down by your sides. Then turn to the left and repeat this rising up and down gesture. When turning to the left, the right heel should lift off the ground. Do this exercise for six times or for as long it feels good to do.
Shifting the weight of the body from side to side and rising up with extended arms increases the circulation of blood, as well as the flow of qi in all the meridians of the body. Bending to the left and right will smooth strengthen and harmonize the yin and yang energies of the practitioner. Therefore this gymnastic is good for all the organ systems of the body, but especially for the Lung, Pericardium and Heart.
Peacock Spreads Tail To Show Beautiful Feathers.
Raise your hands straight up, palms facing out. As they go above your head spread your arms open. From the sides of your eyes using peripheral vision imagine your beautiful feathers. With your arms uplifted and palms facing out, slightly bend the elbows and slowly sway to the left and right like audiences at a rock concert.
In our present day urban environment it is not easy finding free roaming apes, tigers, peacocks, and just forget about the phoenix. But it is easy to find Air Dancers: they’re endemic in the city – they are often used to advertise car dealerships, gas stations and other automotive places. When you do the Air Dancer you freely wave your arms around and bend over a lot. (If you have health issues, especially uncontrolled hypertension, you shouldn’t do this without a doctor’s approval). The Air Dancer I work out with is advertising oil changes. However, I’m advertising we all get “qi changes” by flushing out the old bad qi and breathing in some good new qi. For those skeptical about the reality of this, I propose that circling and bending up and down from the waist facilitates bowel, kidney, and bladder functions. So don’t be shy, try it out for yourself. But do make sure there’s a bathroom close by. You can find varied kinds of Air Dancers doing their thing on YouTube or better yet somewhere in your neighborhood. But seriously, take it easy unless you too are made out of heavy rubber tubing.
**Beautiful featured image from combinedarts.org
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Happy Fun Qi Gong – Part 2 : The Health Benefits of Qi Gong Exercise : Chinese Medicine Living