Some questions answered about Chi kung (Qigong) for a future Burmese magazine article...
Q; How and why did you get into Qigong.
A; I originally started to practice Yoga meditation 5 years prior to starting Qigong and somehow that led me to the alternative side of other practices, my interest really came about due to the fact that I starting to learn Tai Chi my primary interest at the time and this included Qigong as part of the practice.
Q; What is your favorite part about doing Qigong?
A; My favorite part these days is teaching Qigong to others and the positive feedback that people give about the Qigong practice, their improvement to their health, energy and life style, this inspires me to become a better teacher also.
Q; What is the one move you would recommend for someone starting out in Qigong? Is there a name (especially for those who can't attend a class)?
A; One of the roots of Qigong (Chi Kung) is the breath, so I would always recommend students in our classes to develop their breathing potential, this allows for more beneficial aspects of the practice to manifest. In our classes we teach students to go to the root of the breathing and suggest students to develop this kind of breathing as part of their lives. We call this kind of breathing abdominal, Tai Chi, Qigong or baby breathing, just like a younger child would breathe, naturally. One method we teach in our classes is to position both hands one on top the other at the navel, close the eyes and breathe so when you inhale the abdomen expands and when you exhale it contracts. This teaches us to breathe correctly and helps to eliminate build up of tension in the mind and body. This can be practice outside of the class room environment and a highly suggested practice one can utalize in their daily lives.
Q; How is Qigong different from other types of breathing exercises or breathing techniques?
A; Generally most holistic healing systems overlap and there could be elements that are similar though the approach may be slightly different, but the goal is in harmony with one and other. One of the differences that exists, lies in the approach on how we work with the body, this is the physical bodily exercises in the Qigong practice, the exercises are simple and repetitive, though affective in opening the potential of our breath and energy system, this allows for correct utilization of the breathing mechanism and gives more control over our body and mind, in the foundations of physical Yoga (asana) for example we are working with the breath under more demanding bodily posturing, lifting the breath from the solar plexus and diaphragm, this could be more challenging for a beginner of Yoga, in Qigong we are connecting the breath just below the navel area and it is more softer and more subtle, so easier to master even for those with limited experience.
Q; What are some of the health benefits that you experienced?
A; Mainly the benefits for me have been an improved connection with my breathing (abdominal) which has become part of my natural breathing process in my life, helping me to manage stress and anxiety; also Chi Kung has given me a more conscious awareness of my body and the subtle signals that it sends, strengthening of my immune system and ovarall improvement physically, mentally and emotionally, allowing me to become a good friend to my own body and have respect for myself and my life.
Q; Do Qigong and meditation go hand-in-hand? How is it similar or different?
A; Definitely, in ancient times in China people practice Qigong to harmonize themselves with themselves, their surroundings, nature and the cosmos, a major concept of Qigong is to be able to meditate consciously, meaning to always be in a state of meditational contemplation, hence Qigong is a active way to meditate, they realized that to make the breath calm the body and mind also responds and manifest stillness, which becomes a conscious awareness of who we really are, meditation is the core of Qigong it can be known as a moving Meditation similar to Tai Chi Chuan. As Qigong developed the practices became more physical which has led to modern day Qigong, in the beginning the practice was focused on the meditation as the foundation of the practice and not too involved with the physical aspects of how Qigong has become.
Q; What do you do to achieve your optimal health (besides Chi Kung. etc. tai chi, yoga and meditation, etc)
A; I try and keep a healthy diet, try and respect my energy by not over working myself, use exercise, meditation on a daily basis and retire to bed and get up early whenever possible.
Q; Mindfulness is a very popular concept now. Does Chi Kung help you become more mindful? How?
A; Yes Qigong helps one to introspect and become more mindful, the exercises are of a simple nature, so there is no compromise of one's ego, the movements in Qigong help to increase the flow of energy within, so that we experience that power, connecting to the breath helps to regulate our autonomic nervous system removing stress and inducing a more calm and relaxed state of body and mind, Qigong incorporates meditation in some of its standing poses which increases our potential to become more mindful, we connect with the vital organs and become aware of the energy lines within the body helping to connect with our physical state and our physical condition so we respect ourselves more in a more conscious way. Being mindful helps the Qigong practitioner connect with the power within and gives the potential to use that power to improve their health and their energy overall. The key is to keep things simple and exercise regularly.
Q; How can one use Chi Kung to overcome emotions like anger, jealousy, anxiety, depression, etc?
A; Qigong masters over a thousand years ago, discovered that our deep rooted negative emotions were the root causes of our imbalances and sicknesses, they also realized that these negative emotions store in our vital organs and eventually accumulate into sickness. In our Qigong classes we work directly with these ancient practices which involve using simple movements with our body to improve the circulation of energy in the body, plus we work with colour and sound to increase the potential of this circulation, this is an important element of Qigong practice. As we learn to harmonize ourselves by doing Qigong practice on a regular basis, we learn and help to balance and heal or transform our negative emotions and feelings, giving as more access to power of energy for a more fulfilling life.
Q; What do you think the purpose of life is?
To let go… of our pre conceived ideas and our conditioning. To discover peace and to experience, heaven on earth (peace of mind).
Q; What is your favorite life motto? quote?
A; Health is wealth!! Sometimes I suggest to my students: Always believe in yourself and in your life, learn to trust yourself so you learn to trust in your journey and in your evolutionary process, in that trust it leads you to, who you really are.
Qigong can benefit people young and old, it helps to improve your health, it strengthens the mind and body, it slows down the aging process and helps us to live longer, it can also lead to a higher understanding of yourself and your surroundings, for those that are in Chiang Mai Thailand, we welcome you to come and enroll in our simple Qigong course, so you get a flavor of what Qigong is about.