Tips for practicing Chi Kung / Qigong
1. Don't rush... Everything happens when you are ready
2. Regulate sexual activity... No sexual loss prior to 24 hours to 72hrs before practice. If there is loss you would need to practice with less effort until recovery.
3. Menstruation.... Always practice slowly or rest when you are in your menstruation cycle.
4. Pregnant... Ladies should modify their practice during pregnancy, some Qigong exercises are not suitable..
5. Avoid too much creasy or sweet food, as they increase fire Qi and make the mind unstable. Eat more fruit and vegetables and avoid alcohol and smoking.
6. Avoid excessive alcohol intake; during your regular Qigong practice sessions.
7. You should not feel hungry or full, when hungry your mind will be disturbed and when full the digestion is disturbed. Have a light food at least 1 hour before your Qigong practice if needed.
8. Always empty your bladder, before you begin as this may disturb your concentration.
9. Room should not be too hot or too cold, one should feel comfortable without distraction. Avoid practicing with air conditioning, though using fans are ok used in moderation and as long as it is not too cold outside.
10. Avoid tight clothing, clothing should be light and there must be free movement of the abdomen as Qi may not regulate correctly, always practice with comfortable clothes.
11. Never be focused on strange experiences in your Qigong practice, allow yourself to continue with indifference, be practical, stay grounded.
12. Always practice Qigong when your mind is regulated and steady.
13. Learn to regulate your mind and emotions, best to start your practice with your mind and emotions under your control. At the beginning of your Chi Kung practice, position your hands just below your navel and practice abdominal breathing; bring yourself to a place of calmness and stillness before you begin.
14. Do not be disturbed, by outside sounds or stimulus. Depending where you are practicing, be undisturbed by the noises that may happen around you, learn to be calm and never lose your temper.
15. Try not to get over excited when experiencing internal Qi movement, do not let your mind be distracted but be aware in calmness.
16. Avoid any drafts when sweating, as your pores of your skin open and you are more venerable to catching a cold.
17. Weather... We are affected in extreme changes in weather, as it disturbs the body’s natural readjustment, so be aware of those changes and adjust your Qigong practice accordingly.
18. Beware of weaknesses and internal injuries, if the vital are organs weak Heart, Lung, Kidneys, Liver and spleen, one should proceed carefully. If you have internal injuries they disturb internal Qi circulation, one has to regulate their practice to accommodate any internal imbalance.
19. When practicing Qigong the feet must be firmly placed on the floor, also when sitting on a chair, otherwise we can create chi stagnation in the upper legs.
20. Do not scratch or itch or move abruptly, when it related to Qi changes in your body, allow the body to readjust or adjust your posture with awareness and the feeling will disappear eventually.
21. Always swallow your saliva, at the end or during your Chi Kung practice.
22. Do not practice when sleepy, otherwise leading Qi can affect your qi circulation.
23. Never doubt and become lazy; otherwise you will give up and will not have any success
24. Progress is slow so you need patience, strong determination and confidence.
25. Always practice Qigong with experience teachers, as they help you develop your confidence, take care not to be influenced by your fellow students, you will understand when it is necessary in your own time.
For those that are interested in learning Qigong in Chiang Mai, Our course are Monday to Friday 9am to 10am, our Qigong classes run on a 5 day cycle and continue for 7 weeks. We respect the group dynamics therefore we do not offer drop ins, those who can show commitment are welcome.
Teaching Tai Chi in Chiang Mai
As a Tai Chi teacher here in Chiang Mai, I am always looking out for good students with potential, the one's who are keen to learn but never in a rush (have patience) and are firm in the resolve to learn. There also needs to be trust, loyalty and mutual respect between teacher and student and visa versa. I remember once when I was in India I got confused and I jumped off the train (putting myself in danger) thinking I was on the wrong train, only realizing that when I manage to board the other train, that I was already on the right train from the beginning as both trains eventually joined together on departure.
I really value what I teach and even though I am not perfect I am always perfecting my skill, a beginners mind when doing personal practice helps me with that, if your too full (know it already) there is nothing no one can teach you.
Tai Chi Chuan is a martial art, though it also there to nurture your spirit, so if one is only following 1 aspect and not integrating the other (harmony between heaven & earth) then you can safely say you are not practicing Tai Chi.
For those that are in Chiang Mai and have an interest in Tai Chi, we also recommend our Chi Kung training which is complementary to Tai Chi.
Our Tai Chi Classes are based on Wudang Tai Chi which is from Hong Kong and the name Wudang is in honour of Chen San Feng the farther of Tai Chi Chuan, this style of Tai Chi has it's roots in Wu Style
Why it is important to integrate both asana and meditation in Chiang Mai Yoga
Chiang Mai, has many opportunities for all to practice, from Hatha Yoga to Vinyassa Yoga, the dilemma is where is the best place to find the opportunity to practice real yoga, not just with working with the yoga postures as it is the primary focus as in western yoga. Finding a yoga school that applies the way to really integrate the deeper aspects of yoga, as it was originally taught by the real yoga masters of the pass could be a little difficult, like trying to find a needle in a haystack, if we take the foundation practices which are the yoga asanas (postures) and incorporate the higher elements of yoga science which is yoga meditation (Raja Yoga), then we are heading on the right direction on the path to really receiving the true benefits of what yoga truly has to offer. Really there are no best schools, as each yoga practitioner has their different preferences when it comes to yoga and each school has its own methods which the practicing yogi would appreciate. Generally there are very few schools in Chiang Mai that offer that interrogation in their classes of yoga asana and real yoga meditation together, possibly due to lack of experience. Some schools or ashrams in India do offer that kind of integration, though again the dilemma here is one element may be compromised, which is generally the yoga asana part, this is where western yoga teachers come into play, as the yogis of the west do have a great way of working with the basics and sometimes in India the basics could be flawed in some way, saying that there is a yoga school in Indian, that seems to have integrated a way with working with all aspects of yoga that some yogis would appreciate, the school known as Bihar school of yoga founded by Satyananda Saraswati in 1963.
Chiang Mai is a great place to live and study, with many opportunities to learn many different disciplines, though generally many yoga practitioners will not have the opportunity to practice with all the schools and teachers that are available to them here, especially when it comes to yoga. One thing to remember is what is the purpose of why you are practicing yoga?, if it is just for the yoga asana to increase flexibility or to be concern more with the bodily dynamics, than really it cannot be called yoga but some form of gymnastics instead.
Why is it important to develop the higher levels and with whom?
To answer that question we have to look at the dynamics of how the energy in the body works and also have an understanding in the energy cycles of our lives as we start to age, the body is machine and when we were young reaching into our teenage years the body had access to vast amounts of energy reserves, allowing people at that age to work on their yoga practices more dynamically as in Ashtanga Yoga of Mysore India, as we progress in the our cycle of life, the energy dynamics of the body change, which start to leave the body with less power and energy then in adolescents, this should signify to most that lifestyle changes need to be applied on how one is practicing their yoga, when we go deeper in that cycle around say 40 years of age, our yoga practice should deeply change into something that can integrate the way the energy of the body is changing and transforming , the yoga focus should balance out with more introspection (meditation), if we wish to work with the meditational aspects of yoga practice, we need to have the right environment and the right teacher’s who have not only good yoga asana experience, but also have deeper yoga meditational experience in their own practices, it cannot be an intellectual understanding of what a teacher has learned from reading yoga books, but a real deeper experience of what the yoga teacher has experienced in his or hers own yoga meditational practices and hopefully that teacher has also gained some insight into what is meditation and how to help and guide others on their journey into their meditation, the famous concept is the blind cannot lead the blind, comes to mind.
When practicing yoga we have to have a deeper respect to our purpose, the real aspects of yoga are losing their essence as more and more yoga teachers are coming into the frame, if one can find teachers and schools here in Chiang Mai that can help the yoga student to invest time in both aspects of their yoga practices, asana (physical) and meditation (spirit) then at least when coming to learn to practice yoga in Chiang Mai Thailand, one can say they are practicing real yoga.
We have 3 evening yoga and meditation classes, those who have any interest can check Yoga and Meditation Chiang Mai fore more info.
Yoga in the last 100 years has become extremely popular worldwide but especially in the western world, young and old have been inspired by the yoga philosophy of stretching the body and expanding the mind through meditation. Many people may be influenced by their peers and their close relationships to practice yoga, some on their travels especially to India, SE Asia and there is plenty of Yoga in Chiang Mai Thailand, which has plenty of opportunities where people can experience and develop their understanding of yoga, some people may even join a gym in their place of residence and discover yoga there. Yoga today is so popular, that all can have access to yoga teachers and yoga classes wherever they live.
Modern day yoga teachers
There have been some interesting developments in the yoga world that many people who learn get inspired to teach yoga, which is not a bad thing as it has allowed yoga to flourish even further, creating an open door in yoga, especially in the last 30 years or so. The dilemma we face today is a modern yoga teacher on one hand can give you the tools for physical body work and possibly body purification, but they may not be able to help you further develop your internal yoga practices, as found in the meditational side of the practice, this is where the yoga teacher or practitioner gets loss in just spending most time doing yoga postures (asana), which continues the yoga aspirant to maintain the attachment to the physical body as their main priority, this limits the potential to discover the real aspects of yoga, which is really working and developing the mind and expanding into layers of our deeper consciousness.
Modern day limitations
Can we experience the goal of yoga as it is practiced today? The dilemma to this question is that, yoga today somehow is missing the mark; it has become a show of bodily manipulation and flexibility allowing the ego to predominate. So many people are practicing yoga, though they are not experiencing the higher conscious states that yoga is suppose to provide to the aspirant after a long duration of practice, the negative feelings and emotions are still anchored internally and even though one may become more flexible, their minds have not been able to expand into higher states of consciousness. There definitely needs a preparation period to work with oneself physically such as in yoga asana, this helps prepare the body and its physiology aspects, it also facilitates clearing of the energy lines allowing increased energy flow in to the body and especially to the brain, when combined with specific yoga breathing techniques (pranayama), this can take several years of development. The mind needs consistent work to integrate the yoga practitioner to their next level, we need constant practice in sitting Yoga Meditation to help us, if one can practice meditation and continue to practice the physical concepts of yoga (asana) then surely progression in the practice will gradually manifest and is assured.
The development of Yoga
• Preparing the physical, the body purification via asana.
• The ego known as Ahamkara must be naturalized.
• Prana the vital force must be regulated and empowered via pranayama
• The mind known as Manas and the senses must be regulated and internalized via concentration.
• Chitta the consciousness needs to integrate calmness and find stillness via meditation.
• Bhuddhi the intelligence must be re-established and developed
Yoga the path to Enlightenment
Now if we look at what constitutes a yoga teacher; one that can lead the aspirant to emancipation of physical body and life, freedom from bondage of the samsakras (karma), one that helps the student to unify and integrate to their very essence, most yoga masters or gurus prior to the 1970’s were spiritual aspirants that had reach a high level in their yoga practice (sadana) and had truly attained deeper states of conscious awareness, they experienced freedom from earthly and physical bondage, they had the experience and the map for reaching the mastery of life, they travelled the path so they could lead and show their aspirants to reach deeper levels of understanding, about who they really are and how to free themselves from the desires of life. From the 1970’s onwards, most of the real yoga masters from India had already been and gone, the changes towards the real aspects of yoga could only be grasped by a limited few, as the physical aspects were the main priority for most that practice yoga. As we moved more to this present day, the element of action or fire (rajas) has become more predominant in our daily lives, yoga has became more of a workout and a kind of an illusionary game, rather than a spiritual discipline for reaching enlightenment. So let’s put it this way, so many people practicing yoga but not so many practitioners finding emancipation physically, mentally and emotionally in their yoga practice, if this was the case we have to ask; where are all the enlighten Yogis?
The birth of modern day Yoga… Hatha Yoga
Originally it is believed that a form of Hatha Yoga was a preparatory practice in the Buddhist tradition and the Tantric sects that were around during their height of expression, aspirants would spend many years for purification of the body and it was part of a profound spiritual discipline and evolutionary process leading to deeper levels of spiritual consciousness through meditation, though nowadays this tradition of higher consciousness (Raja Yoga) is rarely being practice in a general yoga class.
There are references to Hatha yoga preceding the Buddhist period in the Upanishans around the 6th century BC and it possible that the system of Hatha Yoga was known well before this time. With the decline of Buddhism in the beginning of the millennium at the time of Christ, the physical aspects of the Yoga practices started to lose their appeal and it was not until about the 4th, 5th and 6th century AD the foundations of Hatha Yoga slowly started reemerging and developing again in India.
Great Yogi’s of Hatha Yoga
A great Yogi known as Matsyendranath and possibly the father of establishing Hatha Yoga in India, founded the Nath cult in the 10th century which incorporated special elements mainly from the Tantra tradition, though the Tantric rituals were not incorporated and left out all together. Prior to this period the Yoga purification practices were not being applied fully as they were originally, they were reintroduced back in to the Yoga system, so at this point the necessity was for the aspirant to purify their bodies (elements of Hatha Yoga) before proceeding to the meditational practices, started to reemerge.
The great book of Yoga (Hatha Yoga Pradipika)
Swatmarama a great yogic sage of 15th and 16th century in India compiled a famous Yoga book, even used today by some Yoga practitioners, known as the Hatha Yoga Pradipika (self illuminating) or Light of Hatha Yoga, it included Asana, Pranayama, Mudra and Kriyas (Shatkriyas) for cleansing and purifying the body, an earlier book had been written by one of his disciple Gorakhnath, though Yogi Swatmarama complied his great knowledge in Sanskrit, which gave his writings a very profound ingredient. Elements of the moral codes of Yoga, (Yamas and Niyamas) which were originally a prerequisite to spiritual practice, from the Buddhist, Jain and Patajali Raga Yoga systems were removed, the concept was that these elements can create problems and hinder the aspirants Yoga path, as they tried to grasp the understanding of the meaning of life, the removing of the moral codes Yama and Niyama of Yoga, was to help the natural development of the Yoga aspirants as they progressed on their path, removing the pressure of working physically, mentally and emotionally with oneself.
Swatmarama states that one must first work to purify the body; the Hatha Yoga Pradipika incorporates the use of 6 Yoga cleansing and purifying techniques known as Shatkarma;
They are: Neti, dhauti, nauali, basti, trataka and kapalbhati.
• Neti = Nasal cleansing.
• Dhauti = Cleansing of ears (Karna Dhauti), eyes (Chakshu Dhauti), sinuses (Kapalrandhra Dhauti), tongue (Jihva Dhauti), forehead (Kapalbhati), oesophagus, stomach (Vastra & Vatsara Dhauti), rectum, and anus (Moola Shodhana).
• Nauali = A form of abdominal massage, which isolates and contracts the muscles vertically of the abdomen and rectus.
• Basti = Yoga enema, cleaning the colon the large intestine.
• Trataka = A focusing technique (gazing at a flame of a candle), to strengthen the mind.
• Kapalbhati = (Brain purification) Body cleansing; also known as skull shining in English.
At this point the concept of trying to control the mind was put aside; instead the first point of focus was to clean and purify the body with shatkarma explained above and to discipline the body through Hatha Yoga. The purifying of the body allows for the flow of energy through the energy channel located internally to increase and function at its optimal potential and this helps to balance the physical body, mind and energy, (this concept is also known in the arts of Qigong, Tai Chi and Reiki) this also stimulates the potential of the Yoga aspirant, as their increase energy flow, stimulates opens and harmonizes 2 energy channels known as ida and pingala which travel either side of the spine and the centre energy channel known as sushumna nadi leading to the brain, which helps with the spiritual awakening of the Hatha Yoga practitioner..
This system known as Hatha Yoga, the term Hatha is broken down in 2 parts Ha represents prana (vital force) and tha represents the mind (mental energy), Hatha Yoga helps to unify these 2 elements which is the starting process of developing and awakening of the higher mind and consciousness, in Yoga they are known as Prakriti and Purusha, in Tantra these elements are known as Shiva and Shakti, in Qigong and Tai Chi they are called Yin and Yang. The imbalances that are within us create our suffering, diseases, emotional and mental affliction, the idea is to balance both energies so they harmonize with one another, so body mind and spirit integrate as a whole, they should be considered as one unit. The Hatha Yoga cleansing techniques explained above (Shatkarmas), where an important part of that development which also help to cleanse and purify the internal energy lines known as the Nadis and called the meridians in Chinese, the focus was not only the external (body discipline) but the internal cleansing of the human body and energy system, this was so that the Yoga practitioner can proceed into their meditation and progress in their evolution.