Qi, pronounced ‘chee’ means breath, life-force, energy. Gong means ability and skill. There are many different types of qigong practice ranging from sitting or standing meditations on one end of the spectrum, to breathing similar to pranayama, simple flowing movements or isometric movements in the middle and to “iron shirt” or “steel jacket” methods used in Kung Fu on the other end of the scale. There is one thing that unites all methods and that is that the aim is to unify the three pillars of physical form, breath and intention. The goal is to first learn to sense and recognise the feeling of qi in your body, to nourish and cultivate it, to guard it and to move it through your body.
Ba Duan Jin (8 Brocades/Treasures) Qi Gong
A Shaolin Temple Qi Gong widely practiced through China and the world. It consists of 8 exercises that stimulate and stretch the body in a variety of ways combining changes in breath, intensity, tension and relaxation. It increases joint mobility, structural stability, focus with the aim to integrate physical body connectivity with a gentle and harmonious nourishment of qi.
Classes consist of
- Gentle warm-up 5-10mins
- Run though of entire form about 20-25mins
- Breakdown and explanation of one or two of the movements. (25mins)
- Energise and strengthen the body
- Reduce Stress
- Regulate the Immune System
- Builds stability and strength in the legs
- Develops tendons and sinews of the arms and hands
- Stretches and activates every muscle group and organ system
- Helps to Regulate the Mind and Develop Focus
- Develop body awareness and recognise the feeling of qi
- Accessible to everyone (unless in very poor health)
- Scalable in difficulty and intensity levels
- Easy to remember, simple, relatively static movements.
Ba Duan Jin belongs to the original repertoire of the Shaolin Temple. Earliest mention is around 1150 during the Song Dynasty. It is widely practiced throughout China and the world with myriad variations on these eight exercises. I have directly learned and synthesised my method of practice from various Shaolin Fung Fu, Daoist and lay interpretations of this form. Once memorised and internalised, it is yours forever. The form intensity is scalable and can be practiced in 10 minutes to 1 hour.
Three Pillars of Qi Gong
There are three pillars or stages to Qi Gong practice.
First one must learn the physical movements, without worrying about the breath and other things.Once memorised, one can use the breath to support the movements. Once this has been mastered, one can incrementally begin to put more and more intention into the movements and breath and start to feel the effects of that intention. Ultimately, the aim is to harmoniously unite these three pillars in order to reap the full benefits of Qi Gong practice.