An Introduction By Raymond & Cynthia Selwyn
In January 2008 our newly renovated and expanded Country Club started to include classes in the annual subscription - Pilates, bone building, Feldenkreis, Zumba and Ashtanga yoga, amongst many others. We tried them ALL but did not find even one which suited us. Being quite fit but with some health concerns, as one would expect with most over 70’s, we needed exercise, relaxation and something for both body and soul.
The following June a local resident and qualified practitioner started giving Qigong classes at the club. We were enthralled from the first class and suffered no ill effects afterwards, as we had done with some of the others. This ancient Chinese martial art addresses so many aspects of our daily lives that we try not to miss any of the twice weekly classes – one in the morning and one in the evening.
The classes vary with the seasons. Our human connection to the ’heavens’ and the earth is emphasized with reference to the five elements of: earth, water, fire, wood and metal. The ‘art’ promotes positive good health and teaches us to care for ourselves and avoid ailments, without the aid of doctors or drugs. The relaxation techniques which we have learnt have had a positive effect on everything we do and on our outlook on life. We are very grateful to our teacher, Roni Weissman, for introducing us to Qigong, but we know that we still have much to learn.
Qigong (pronounced Chi-Kong) – Ancient Health Theory: A Unique Experience in Motion
By Roni Weissman
Qigong (qi = life energy, gong = skill, work) is an ancient Chinese medical theory which is now in demand and succeeding all over the world due to the dramatic improvement it generates in the physical and mental condition of the students, allowing them to feel young, energetic and full of life.
It is a martial art theory from the East, like Tai-Chi, Aikido, Kung-Fu and others. Qigong exercises integrate deep breathing with soft and pleasant movements, that do not involve any effort, and immediately give a wonderful feeling of release for body and soul.
In the book, The Secret of the Garden Flower, translated by Thomas Cleary, it is written: "All Qigong exercises are designed to improve health, to increase energy, to revive the body and mind, prevent or control disease, stabilize the internal organs, increase stability, reduce stress, improve the immune system, reduce toxins, strengthen the muscles and tendons, uplift the mood, contribute to longevity, and integrate training of body and mind to enlightenment and harmony with the elements (Tao).’’
The practice of Qigong works on three planes: breathing, movement and awareness which contribute to mental, physical and spiritual health. Qigong is also the movement branch of Chinese medicine because it is based on Chinese philosophy and is connected to its roots. It develops personal potential, stimulates the spiritual aspect and connects the students to their personal nature of authentic self.
The theory of Qigong is easy to practice and apply, as it does not involve any effort and is suitable for all ages - children, teens, adults and the elderly.
Courses include the study of a series of traditional exercises combined with relaxation exercises and meditation to the sound of peaceful, calming music.
The early Chinese recognized 2500 years ago that there was a constant occurrence, characteristic and unique to each season. As a result, they created a series of 18 sequence movements which are adapted to each season and are related to the emotions and parts of the body. This process creates a strong connection between man and nature, the most important principle in Dao Theory. There is human behavior which is typical for each season. According to the Chinese point of view, the essence of 'all movements of the world' is defined in five movements of elements that appear in nature - water, wood, fire, earth and metal - combining them in coordination with seasonal climate to create harmony.
In Chinese medicine the human body is a microcosm. As each season has a typical climate, different colors, smells, sounds and effects which are absorbed into our senses, so also certain organs are at their peak of activity during each season and represent the activities of the season inside us. In order to nurture the body as part of the world around us, we learn in the classes the classical series of the seasons and also do specific exercises to strengthen the internal organs related to each season.
There are several ways to enable the flow of Qi (energy) in the meridians, such as stretching, massage, pats, propulsion and awareness. All of these factors enable the flow of energy through the meridians. This flow creates balance of the organs and consequently develops physical, emotional and mental strength. Another skill that is emphasized is ‘breath work’ or the art of ‘breath control’ which accompanies the movement exercises.
Each living organism has the capability to self-heal. Qigong exercises stimulate these abilities, and increase the level of awareness, leading to improvements in physical and mental health.
A basic course in Qigong is an experience which exposes the students to Chinese medicine and gives the opportunity to learn the basics of motion therapy. During the meetings, we loosen and strengthen the body, improve the listening and attention spans, and practise correct breathing techniques which release us from stressful situations. We develop and strengthen self image and try to accomplish calm and internal peace for ourselves. Ideally, students should attend a meeting of an hour and a half twice a week.
See a video about Qigong on youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06l3u1MN-os