Author Archive

It’s the feeling, not the form!

Monday, May 16th, 2011

At last count, there are somewhere between 3,000 and 7,000 Qigong forms.  Even for a Qigong Master, that would be a lot to learn.

Fortunately, it is not necessary or even desirable to learn a huge number of forms. The true benefit of Qigong practice is developing a “Qigong State of Mind.”  — a feeling of clear minded relaxation that can be induced by the regular practice of just a handful of exercises.

The key to success is learning forms that you really like and wish to practice every day.  Practicing with a group once or twice weekly helps you learn some new forms to incorporate into your home practice.  Group practice also increases the tremendous health benefits of Qigong, which are magnifed by the energy of a group.

Things go better with Qigong!

Monday, May 9th, 2011

Yesterday I celebrated Mother’s Day by playing 3 sets of tennis.  I don’t claim to be to be an excellent tennis player, but love the sport.  I love it even more when I apply Qigong training while on the court.

First I practiced Qigong movements for about 20 minutes before heading over to the tennis center.  This stretched muscles and tendons, stimulated chi flow and reduced my chances of injury. I particularly enjoyed doing “ringing the temple gong,” “drawing the bow,” and “beating the heavenly drum”

When I arrived, I eased into a state of alert relaxation by focusing on breathing.  A few deep, full, slow breaths helped clear the mind and relax the body. Then standing with correct alignment, I sunk my energy to the lower dan tien, just below the naval.

With body relaxed, mind focused, and energy grounded and centered, I played really well.  More importantly, I enjoyed every point, even when I made a bad shot.

Qigong training can definitely help your tennis and golf games, and add enjoyment to anything you do.

Have you had any similar experiences as a result of your Qigong practice?  I would love to hear about them! Please write to me or comment on the blog site.

Studies Show Qigong Really Works

Sunday, April 17th, 2011

Recent scientific studies show that practicing Qigong and Taiji does more than help you relax.

Baylor Medical School researchers took cells from Qigong practitioners and compared them to cells from a control group.  The result?  The Qigong group’s cells lived up to five times longer!

At the University of Miami School of Medicine children with Attention Deficit Syndrome exhibited reduced anxiety, hyperactivity and improved conduct after just ten biweekly classes.

Studies of older adults performed by the Center for Tai Chi Studies demonstrated Taiji and Qigong practice improved balance, built greater lower body strength, and enhanced immune function.

So if you desire improved health and aim to live a long time, practice Qigong.  It really works.

Harmony and Adversity

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

I get inspired by watching birds.  They seem so care free, impervious to the worst weather.  Like yesterday morning, when Carolina wrens, sparrows and finches were singing during the snowstorm.

And how did so many birds survive this brutal winter?   Here’s a theory: birds and other animals live in harmony with the natural world, so can adapt to adversity, like extreme weather, food shortages, etc.

We humans can learn a lot from the birds.  We are usually way out of harmony with nature,  and pay the price with health, environmental and social problems.

Cultivating a harmonious relationship with the energy of nature is one of the goals of Qigong.  The gentle movements, deep breathing and meditation in Qigong produce a more balanced and contented state of mind.  So with regular practice, we gain the ability to face down adversity and greet every season with a song.

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.