Happy Fun Qi Gong - Part 1

**This article originally appeared as "Happy Fun Qigong."Qi JournalVol. 25, No 3, Autumn 2015.**

By John Voigt

The Body Heals With Play. The Mind Heals With Laughter. The Spirit Heals With Joy.

— Chinese Proverb

Qi Gong for Health : Chinese Medicine Livingthis adorable image from fanpop.com

Introduction

The goal of my qigong teachings is to have people experience and enjoy the benefits of qi-energy. Depending on the group’s potential for playfulness, I usually interject various Happy Fun Qigong gymnastics and visualizations to liven up the sessions. Several of these are described below.

Preparation

GROUND – CENTER – RISE UP – SMILE

Grounding. I tell the group to feel the gravity of Mother Earth grounding and supporting us, connecting us to her. Together we visualize roots growing down from our feet deeply into the earth and drawing up its nourishing yin energy.

Centering. We breathe down into our lower belly, the body’s center of gravity. We do this nice and easy, slowly, deeply, silently.

Rising up. Keeping our heads straight, and chins slightly tucked in, we straighten our backs and remaining rooted to the earth and breathing calmly and deeply, we feel our head, neck, and upper shoulders rise up toward the heavens. I say things like, “Feel the strength filled yang energy of the sun and stars enter you and protect you.”

Smile enigmatically like the Mona Lisa.

Qi Gong for Health : Chinese Medicine Livingthis image of the Mona Lisa from the Wikipedia commons

Doing this secures and increases all we have just experienced from Grounding-Centering-Rising up.

This entire procedure only takes a few minutes to do. It cleans and increases the amount of qi throughout the body and brings about the sensations of our being interconnected with the entire universe.

Experiencing (Self) Love.

You can not fully love others until you have first learned to love yourself. I tell the group. “Close your eyes and look inside yourself at your heart. Have it be in the center of your upper chest, in about the location the heart chakra of the yogis. Have it be a happy smiling heart. Silently tell it, I love you.

Have it look back at you and imagine hearing it say, I love you too.” Repeat this several times.

Doing this visualization usually produces a flood of warm loving qi that flows out from the Heart and fills the entire body. I call it “Qi with a Love Spin.” This experience is absolutely wonderful. You can see the love-qi radiating from the faces of those experiencing it.

If the group is advanced, I might ask them fill the space around all of us with this radiating love energy. The participants can now freely move around in it, improvising their own spontaneous qigong forms by themselves, or with other members of the group.

Let’s Wake Up (or) Slapping the Sleepy Walrus.

Qi Gong for Health : Chinese Medicine LivingThis lovely photo from Pixdaus, photo by Fredrik Odman

Many people come to qigong sessions wanting to gain a quick energetic wake me up, or pick me up. Raising my left eyebrow, and putting on a trickster expression I ask, Who wants a jolt of wake up super qi? And is it okay if I touch you? (with such intimate work the director should always ask permission to touch, or to send qi to anyone.) It won’t hurt much, just a little bit — (that captures their attention every time). I go to the ones who bravely volunteered and ask if they have any health issues, especially in their upper body and or heart. If they are physically fit, I quickly and sharply slap the sides of their shoulders once — not too hard, but hard enough for them to feel it.

This immediately gets the qi flowing and wakes them up. Then I offer the same to anyone who wants it. Usually, I have some takers. I might explain that most problems happen because qi (or life energy) is blocked and qigong can open up these blockages. I ask the slapped ones if they feel the qi moving in them now? They usually do. Or at least they feel something that could be called qi, or at least a manifestation of qi.

Lubricating the Joints.

I begin this gymnastic by asking the group to, “Wiggle your fingers, then squeeze them hard around an imaginary tennis ball. Now wiggle them again.” After they have done this several times I tell them, “Now have your wiggling fingers turn into the hands of a concert piano virtuoso, with fingers, hands, arms and hair wildly swinging all over the place — like Franz Liszt the 19th-century romantic era genius superstar composer and concert pianist. Then comes, “Now turn your piano fingers into spider fingers; then into two crazy racing centipedes.”

This practice opens the six energy meridians (which begin or end in each of the fingertips), the Lung, Large Intestine, Pericardium, Triple Burner, Heart, and Small Intestine. Five more meridians begin or end in the toes and one more on the bottoms of the feet. So in addition to the hands, possibly wiggle, squeeze and shake the feet and toes.

Another Happy Fun joint lubrication is Hip Rotations—I also call them Hula Hoops. It is a version of a Hawaiian religious dance that smooths out and increases what the Kahunas, or priests, called mana—a combination of qi energy mixed with muscular strength.

Doing the Hula Hoops releases our hidden inner child as it tones the abdominal muscles and lubricates the joints in the hips and upper thigh bones. We don’t actually use physical hula hoops, although I have seen qigong done that way. We Hula Hoopers by the White just rotate our hips in circles, first one way then the other. Keep the back straight, but not stiff, with the hands on the hips or wherever else they feel good to be. And remember the basic rule of Happy Fun Qigong: if it feels good to do then do it. If it does not feel good, STOP!

More Happy Fun Gymnastics.

Qi Gong for Health & Happiness : Chinese Medicine LivingThis joyful image from vineyardchurch.com

These gymnastics are not necessarily meant to be done all in one session. Instead, they are like possible selections on a menu from which a qigong presenter may pick and choose. For maximum benefits, movements should be performed slowly with deep, silent and consciously aware breathing.

These gymnastics are not necessarily meant to be done all in one session. Instead, they are like possible selections on a menu from which a qigong presenter may pick and choose. For maximum benefits, movements should be performed slowly with deep, silent and consciously aware breathing.

Going in the opposite direction qigong, or Freeing Our Inner Grumpy-Grouch.

I tell the group something like this, “Let’s do qigong the Wrong Way! That way we’ll all see how this qigong stuff works."

Anyone with health, breathing or heart issues should just watch this from the sidelines. Now get the meanest frown that you can get and stick it on your face. Crunch over so you can hardly breathe. Now complain about anything, everything. ‘The world is going to hell in a hand basket. I’ve never seen it so bad. Everything is so yucky.’ If you people don’t know what words to say try making noises and sounds of an old grump: uggg, yuk, phooey! Make some disgusted gestures with your hands. You know the one when you raise your limp hand and drop it at someone like you’re saying, ‘Get that out of my face.’ Continue complaining, ‘I can’t breathe, I’m dying. I’ve never seen it so bad, I’ve never felt so bad. I feel like a rotten piece of meat being overcooked in a dirty frying pan.’ ”

Of course, many of our “complainers” will be breaking out in laughter as we reveal our cantankerous, crotchety, cranky, grumpy selves. But that offers you, the director, a way to increase the silliness by going up to the laughing per- son and frowning and shaking a finger of guilt in their direction, telling them something like, “Stop laughing, there’s nothing to laugh about, we’re all grumpy grouches here!”

We don’t want to do this for too long, just a few minutes is enough to make the point. Then you the director loudly clap your hands and shout “Stop! Now check out how you feel. Notice that the energy in your body and brain seems stuck. Well it is stuck. We’ve just been doing a pretend “bad” qigong. Now let’s do it the good way. Let’s take some really deep breaths and exhale with a nice full “ahh.” Now Close your eyes. Picture this: the weather couldn’t be better. A peaceful sunrise in early spring and the overnight clouds are breaking. It is a perfect Feng Shui setting: You are standing on a mountain and a beautiful lake is right before you. All is silent except for the peaceful sounds of singing birds. Inhale fully, slowly, deeply, smoothly, silently as you lift your arms up, and as if you were a swan flying in slow motion, bring your arms out horizontally to your sides. Exhale and bring your arms and hands back into your upper chest. Let your hands sink grace- fully down. Pause for a moment then again inhale and raise your hands back up to the upper chest and once again unfurl your “wings.” Do this routine for several minutes.

I finish by telling them to open their eyes. Then I ask, Was there any difference in the way the Grumpy-Grump and the Feng Shui visualizations felt for you? It’s obvious what their answers will be.

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**Beautiful featured image from combinedarts.org


Tai Chi - History & Health Benefits

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac

China has a long tradition of using exercise techniques to promote health and longevity. Its roots go back to ancient times. In the 6th century BCE (Before the Common Era) Lao Tzu wrote in the Tao Te Ching, ‘Yield and overcome, bend and be straight.” From these origins of Taoism comes the central philosophy of Tai Chi Chuan – literally Supreme Ultimate Fist.

In 250 CE the physician Hua Tuo developed a system of exercise based on the movements of five animals. He believed that regular exercise was necessary for good digestion and circulation, and that this would assure a long and healthy life. These Five Animals Exercises form the basis of the modern systems of Tai Chi Chuan and Qi Gong.

In the 6th century CE an Indian monk named Bodihdharma came to China to the Shaolin monastery. He noticed that the monks there were in poor physical condition from meditating too much and moving too little! He developed an exercise system called the Eighteen Form Lohan Exercise, from which came Kung Fu and all other external martial arts forms. Some of these exercises survive today in modern Tai Chi Chuan.

tai-chi-2

Today Tai Chi Chuan enjoys a world wide following of people with little or no interest in martial arts. They practice Tai Chi for its physical and mental health benefits. Concentrating on the movements of the forms and regulating the breathing brings about a state of mental calmness and clarity. The physical movements rotate the joints of the body to about 95% of their capability, keeping one limber and flexible. No other Western exercise comes close to this range of movement.

Researchers have found that Tai Chi practice improves balance, flexibility, and cardiovascular fitness. Other health benefits include relief from pain, fatigue, insomnia, depression, and symptoms of diseases such as diabetes, fibromyalgia, ADHD in adolescents and many others.

Tai Chi’s gentle, low impact movements burn more calories than surfing, and nearly as many as downhill skiing! These many health benefits explain the huge popularity of Tai Chi Chuan world wide.

 

*Note - CE (common era) is the same as AD (anno domini). (ex: 1400 CE is same as 1400 AD)