September 14th, 2011

When we learn a new exercise or skill, it may make us feel tense, even when the purpose of learning it is to promote relaxation.  That was the case for me when I first studied Tai Chi, and to a lesser extent yoga.

With Qigong, I felt relaxed almost from the get go. But now and then I still get mentally or physically tight.

According to most Masters, this is normal because during practice, tension may arise from parts of the body we didn’t even know were tense!  Regular practice of Qigong causes a release of stress and tension that may be deeply embedded in our cells.  As we gain greater body awareness, we are able us to feel those feelings and gradually let go of them.

One tip I find helpful is this:  with every breath, imagine you are  breathing in tranquility and breathing out tension.

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August 31st, 2011

Days after the big storm, we’re still without power, phone service, internet, and running water.  Still I feel grateful that the damages in our area were not more severe.

Qigong Masters in ancient times contemplated natural phenomena like hurricanes and drew inspiration for their practice.  I imagine they surveyed the damage after a big storm like Irene and noticed certain trees survived and others did not.  They may have noted that some survivors were willow trees that would bend but not break.  Others were thick, old and able to withstand gale force winds thanks to their deep roots.

So in keeping with the tao of nature, Qigong teaches us to maintain flexibility as well as a deep connection to the earth.  Incorporating these principles into our practice should help insure a longer, healthier life.


August 24th, 2011

Just back from the National Qigong Association Annual Conference, which I’ve decided to call “Qigong Central.”  I feel inspired and energized from playing Qigong with some of the world’s best teachers.

One of my favorites was Chungliang Al Huang.  In his electrifying presentation, he said that he never does the same Tai Chi (or Qigong) twice.  So each day, he varies his routine and forms so his practice stays fresh and alive.  Another presenter, William Ting, emphasized the importance of focusing on the details of Qigong forms, such as keeping your shoulders level when moving right or left.  Also presenting was Daisy Lee, who taught me “Lotus Rises from the Water,” which may turn out to be my favorite form!

By the end of the 3 day event, my head was spinning but my body, mind and soul felt charged up with chi.  During the coming weeks I’ll be channeling some of that chi and sharing fresh ideas with folks in my classes.


August 16th, 2011

The Three Intentful Corrections – correct alignment, breath and mind – can be applied to everyday life as well as Qigong practice.  You have probably noticed that taking some deep breaths when stressed makes you feel more relaxed.  Likewise, straightening the posture – especially after sitting or slouching for a long time – can relieve stiffness and fatigue.

Applying mindfulness, the third intentful correction, is a powerful way to get better results from your Qigong and improve everyday life.   When we do Qigong mindfully, we stay focused on the present moment and allow any thoughts that come up to pass through our minds like clouds drifting across the sky.  Mindfulness induces a deep sense of calm and opens the gates to feeling chi.

Without mindfulness, Qigong would be, well,  just another form of exercise.

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August 9th, 2011

The “Three Intentful Corrections,” mentioned in my last post, are an essential starting point for every Qigong practice session.

We align ourselves with the forces of heaven and earth, take some deep abdominal breaths and stay present with whatever arises in the present moment.

Proper alignment means having spine erect but relaxed, knees slightly bent, head centered, and shoulders straight but relaxed. The theory is that energy flows more smoothly in a straight line, so the better your posture, the more efficient your chi flow.

Good posture may not be a cure all, but it does help correct bad habits that often lead to chronic aches, pains and fatigue.


August 4th, 2011

There are thousands of forms of Qigong and Tai Chi, but just a few core principles that are common to all.  The most basic are what my main teacher, Roger Jahnke,  calls the “Three Intentful Corrections.” They are: allignment, mind/consciousness, and breath.

The first one I want to talk about is breath.  Just taking a few deep abdominal breaths is almost guaranteed to make you feel more relaxed and able to focus, calmly, on the present moment.  Too often in our daily lives we tend to breathe in a shallow way.  This deprives the body of the fuel it needs for cell repair, and increases the mental and physical effects of stress.

Taking a few deep, full breaths periodically throughout the day can produce significant health benefits and enhance your overall feeling of well being — even if you don’t have a regular Qigong practice.


July 25th, 2011

Just back from a week of Tai Chi and Qigong training with my teacher, Roger Jahnke.  It was amazing!  I can’t wait to share some new forms and ideas with folks in my classes.

Here’s a thought I had on the plane ride home: think of Qigong as play rather than work.  Play denotes something that gives us pleasure.  Some of us play golf or tennis because we love to, not because participating in these sports is “good for us.”  Think about what what you would rather do: play your favorite sport or work out at the gym?  Most people would vote for play.

When we cultivate a playful attitude in our practice, it does two things: First, it makes us want to do Qigong more often.  Second, it causes us to relax, which amplifies the mental, physical and spiritual benefits.

For more information about Qigong and a schedule of local classes, visit my website:


July 4th, 2011

Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, urged colonial Americans to be self reliant in health as well as politics.

He wrote that “an attention to health should take place over every other object.”

One way to be self reliant about your health is to practice Qigong.  Doing Qigong for just 10 or 15 minutes per day can lower blood pressure, relieve chronic pain, reduce the chance of stroke and heart attack, and boost immune response.  Recent studies done in China and the US provide evidence for these and other important health benefits.

It is also extremely patriotic!  More people practicing Qigong will lead to a healthier population, less strain on our health care system, and ultimately a lower national debt (Tea Party members take note).

So follow the path of Thomas Jefferson: pay close attention to your health–and practice Qigong.

Concentrate on Quality not Quantity

June 28th, 2011

I often remind class members that there are over 7000 Qigong forms, but it’s not necessary to learn every one.  In fact, it may be counterproductive to learn more than a handful.

As Americans, we are conditioned to believe that more is more.  But when it comes to Qigong, more is often less.  If you practice 2 dozen forms and your mind is wandering, you probably aren’t getting the full benefit — beyond the gentle stretching required to perform each movement.

On the other hand, when you practice just a few forms in a state of deeply relaxed attention, you reap the maximum physical, mental and spiritual rewards from your practice.


June 21st, 2011

One of the things I love most about Qigong is that at the end of each class, I feel more energetic than at the beginning.

There are two main reasons for this.  The first is that Qigong movements help focus our internal energy and gather more energy from the universe.  Second, Qigong teaches us to conserve that energy by staying relaxed in the practice and never overexerting.

The result is that all the energy, or chi, that we generate goes towards healing and revitalizing.

Daily Qigong practice helps reinforce this message, so that eventually you will get that “Qigong feeling” no matter what you are doing–whether working, cleaning the house or playing your favorite sport.

Wishing everyone a happy and fruitful Summer Solstice!