QiGong (pronounced “chee kung”) is an ancient Chinese practice involving physical postures, breathing techniques and focused intention in pursuit of overall well-being. In essence, the discipline surrounds the invisible force known as “Qi” which is also referred to as universal energy, life force energy, vital force or prana. Qi is believed to be the energy that permeates all living things in the universe. It gives us life and without it, we cease to live.
Thus, Qigong postulates that proper flow and balance of Qi is essential to our well-being. It is when our qi is insufficient, blocked or reversed in flow that we develop illnesses, whether on a mental, emotional or physical level.
PRINCIPLES IN MOTION
A practice that is derived from martial arts, qi gong primarily comprises a set of movements meant to cultivate and regulate qi. According to QiGong Master Bai Yin (pix)
,while martial arts teach self-defence, Qigong promotes wellbeing and based on many practitioners’ experience, healing too.
Qi disorders, namely insufficiency, blockage or reversed flow, invoke distinct health issues. Insufficient qi makes one weak or fatigued; blocked qi essentially means energy is clogged up, which may cause lumps and a variety of pains and stones; and reversal of Qi flow can lead to terminal ailments. The effects may also be felt on a mental and emotional level.
The benefits of Qigong can be felt rather swiftly, the first signs being the ability to sleep deeply, feeling energetic and happy, even improvement in one’s appearance. Within weeks, practitioners have reported nagging back pain that has miraculously disappeared, stress levels reduced and temper subdued. At the very least, practitioners feel invigorated, both in body and mind. These are all the direct result of improvement in the flow and balance of Qi, reveals Bai Yin.
However, the key is regular practice. “This is because our body feels different every day and this goes for our state of mind and emotions too. So, our energy flow differently every day. Some days we feel sluggish, other days we may feel cold or even heavy.” Daily practice therefore, helps to regulate our qi and promoting balance.
THE PRACTICE Qigong in its original form is complex and time-consuming. Today, there are modern interpretations of qi gong adapted for our fast-paced and time-constrained society. Master Bai Yin espouses a form of qi gong that integrates modern Chinese medical knowledge with the understanding of the functions of Qi as well as the knowledge of endocrinology, metabolism and nutrition to enhance the nourishment of Qi on all organs and the system of the body. Consisting a series of styles in the standing, sitting or horizontal position which cultivates the vital Qi energy, it takes only 10 – 20 minutes daily and one square metre of space to practise. “The movements are gentle, relaxed and simple to learn,” shares Bai Yin.
Besides regulating breathing, the practice refreshes the qi in the body. During practice, practitioners often experience some of the following sensations: feeling hot, expansive, light, heavy, itchy, numb, cold seeping out of the body or even a growling stomach. “These are all outward effects of improved activation of one’s metabolism and stimulation of the inward qi. After practice, they may experience a feeling of relaxation, comfort and lightness.”
Some of the short-term benefits of Qigong include:
- increased strength, vigour and energy;
- noticeable improvement in appearance;
- effective weight loss; and
- improvement of sexual dysfunction.
“Qigong postulates that proper flow and balance of qi is essential to our wellbeing. It is when our Qi is insufficient, blocked or reversed in flow that we develop illnesses, whether mentally, emotionally or physically.”
Although there is a set of precise movements, the practice allows for fluidity. Often, practitioners will begin by following routine movements and subsequently find that their body is moving according to its own needs.
This is referred to as “Qi Dong” which means spontaneous body movements. It usually happens when the channels (meridians) inside the body are unlocked by the Qi and a series of spontaneous body movements occur. “In general, the movements are directly related to one’s illness. The movements make the channels around the problem area flow more freely, relieving the practitioners’ pain or discomfort.”
Hence, many practitioners find as they continue practising, that their medical conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity as well as stomach disorders, vastly improve. According to Bai Yin, our body is self-healing and Qigong helps facilitate the process.
One case of a Qigong practitioner who had rheumatoid arthritis since the age of four, and was almost bedridden by the age of 18, is particularly fascinating. His arthritis pain had completely vanished after a few practice sessions. Then, during the intermediate level of a Qigong class, this practitioner, who suffered from a spinal cord problem which was misaligned at 25 degrees, heard his spinal cord adjusting itself from the tail bone right up to the nape of the neck. “When I opened my eyes, everything seemed brighter, my body seemed more relaxed and I was not only able to walk right after the class but I could run. It is difficult to explain, but it is what I experienced.”
However, Bai Yin advises that Qigong is not a replacement for treatment for chronic diseases or other health conditions. Instead, Qigong should be considered as a complement to treatment.
In fact her main goal is actually to help students achieve a good lifestyle – to be physically healthy, energetic, happier and more positive. Many of her students have related becoming improved individuals, even tempered, more compassionate, no longer indulged in high risk behaviours e.g. smoking or abusing alcohol.
Qigong in essence teaches us to be more tranquil inside. Practitioners usually enter a “space” of tranquillity where their breathing is slowed and they are very focused, having blocked out everything on the outside. “It is a very interesting state of mind, very different from our normal state on a stressful day. In this space, practitioners regenerate, cultivate focus and energy to face the day,” explains Bai Yin
PRACTICE FOR ALL Suitable for all ages, qi gong is especially suited to those who seldom exercise or do not exercise at all, the elderly and weak, those who suffer from stress or frequent fatigue, people suffering weight issues or emotional upheavals and sexual dysfunction.
Only those with mental illness, epilepsy, severe heart problems, as well as pregnant women should refrain from practising qi gong.
Some quick tips for identifying the quality of Qigong lessons.
- It should be relaxed, comfortable and evoke happiness in the practitioner.
- Simple and easy to learn.
- Able to give fast results i.e. improved energy, appearance and strength.
When one decides to learn Qigong, they should carefully consider the teacher they choose. Besides the Qigong master having many years of experience, he or she must have thorough knowledge of the theory and principles of Qigong. Ultimately, a Qigong master should empower his or her students with the knowledge that we all have the power within ourselves to achieve and maintain our own wellbeing. Master Bai Yin was born in Beijing and has practised qi gong for almost 30 years, with 20 years of teaching experience. A highly-regarded Qigong master in many countries across Asia, Europe and America, Bai Yin started teaching in Malaysia eight years ago and has changed the lives of many Malaysians. Today, a select group of her students are spreading the benefits of Qigong through classes across the Klang Valley. For more information, please contact us.