Archive for February, 2011

Qigong and yoga

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Some people refer to Qigong as “Chinese yoga,” and there are many similarities between these two practices.  But there are also some significant differences.  I love how a good yoga class leaves me feeling relaxed and flexible.  Bikram yoga–which my wife Betsy and I practice at the Norwalk studio–adds the benefit of a strenuous sweaty workout.

But yoga is best practiced in a yoga studio with a yoga mat, yoga props like blocks and blankets, or in some cases, 100+ degree heat.  Qigong can be practiced anywhere, any time, alone or with a crowd, indoors or outdoors.  No props, studio or mat required.  Another difference?  When I do Qigong I feel as deeply relaxed and refreshed from a 15 minute session as from an hour or more of yoga.

Yoga and Qigong offer most of the same mental, physical and spiritual benefits.  Qigong is just faster to learn, less strenuous, and easier to incorporate into daily life.

Qigong helps snow shoveling!

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Qigong practice makes everyday activities easier, and  has been particularly beneficial to me this winter.  Thanks to Qigong, I have enjoyed snow shoveling almost as much as when I was 12 and charged a dollar to shovel neighbors’ driveways.  This year there has been a lot to enjoy!

The secret?  Assuming the san ti stance while shoveling, and employing reverse breathing. The san ti stance is the pose used by marshal artists before fists and feet start flying.  I learned it from Yang Yang, a Qigong and Tai Chi Master whose workshop I took at Kripalu.  San ti aligns the body so most weight is supported by bones not muscles.  This makes shovelfuls of snow feel lighter and much less likely to wreak havoc on the lower back.

Reverse breathing means contracting abdominal muscles while deeply inhaling, then letting those muscles release on the exhale.   This practice produces a rush of energy, which makes light work of chores that require heavy lifting.   Like snow shoveling.