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Qi Gong (Chi Kung) can be translated as « vital energy ». It is a form of exercise synchronizing movements and breathing, practiced for centuries...
- Its history -
The origins of Qi Gong date back thousands of years ago, to the ceremonial dances performed by tribes in various regions of China. The belief is that specific dance rhythms and movements have been developed in order to strengthen the dancers, physically and spiritually.
Later, during the Belligerent States period in China (419 BC - 220 AD), many scholars developed various practices and philosophies. One of the main ideas is that of the « elixir of life » which resides in each of us and which we must cultivate regularly, in order to remain in harmony and in good health.
Over time, the dance moves were sequenced and various Qi Gong patterns emerged, generally attributed to General Yue Fei (1177 - 1279 AD), who is said to have developed them to form his army.
- Its different forms -
Qi Gong is practiced for three purposes : martial, medical and meditative. This practice rectifies the energy imbalances that accumulate in our body :
TAIJI BREATHING : It consists of eight exercises that help to develop body and Qi (Chi) awareness.
ELEMENTARY BREATHING : It involves visualizations and breathing exercises that help us free ourselves from anxiety and transform our negative emotions into positive ones.
LIU ZI JUE (THE SIX SOUNDS) : According to Tao Hungjing (420-589), there was only one way to inhale and six ways to exhale (CHUI, HU, XI, HE, XU, SI). It is therefore a question here of blowing while pronouncing these words and directing each word towards an energy organ (liver, kidneys, spleen, heart and lungs) and one of the five attached elements (wood, water, earth, fire and metal).
WU QIN XI (THE 5 ANIMALS GAME) : Imitating the movements of animals, in order to harden our bodies, goes back to the dawn of time. The movements express the courage and strength of the tiger, the serenity and calm of the stag, the stability and solidity of the bear, the suppleness and skill of the monkey, and the address and elegance of the bird (the crane). They are also connected to the five elements and the five energetic organs.
ZHAN ZHUANG (TREE POSTURE) : Just because this practice seems motionless doesn't mean the body isn't working. On the contrary, static exercises have an in-depth effect (inner and outer calm). The tree pose is practiced standing and requires a good placement of the pelvis, the coccyx descends downwards and the top of the head is pulled upwards. The spine is thus opened. The arms are filled with energy flowing around the back (like the branches and leaves of the tree).
SHI ER DUAN JIN (12 PIECES OF BROCADE) : This is a seated method that strengthens the work of the neck, shoulders, lower back and legs. In this fluid sequence of movements, we find the traditional principles of maintenance of vitality, refinement of the body, and meditative contemplation. This method facilitates the stretching and the opening of the body in depth, it allows to enter into meditation.
BA DUAN JIN (8 PIECES OF BROCADE) : This set of eight exercises focuses on the alignment of the body and leads to the coordination of movements with breathing. Rooting is constant, the axis of the body always present, the movements of the limbs make it possible to stretch the body in all directions, always in symmetry around this axis. The movements must be balanced, soft, slow and harmonious.
SHIBASHI (18 MOVEMENTS/WONDERFUL/HARMONIOUS) : This series inspired by Yang style Taiji (Tai Chi) movements was created in 1979 by Professor Lin Housheng. There are several series of Shibashi movements. This technique, in motion, amplifies and balances the circulation of Qi in the body to bring vitality and longevity. It is also recommended for people suffering from hypertension, lower back pain, cardiovascular or digestive disorders, etc. Intertwining the graces of Taiji and Qi Gong. The movements are fluid and relaxed with gentle breathing (inhalation through the nose and exhalation through the mouth). To help us, we can take inspiration from the names of the movements (the flight of the wild goose, the fisherman raises his net).
MAWANGDUI DAOYIN SHU : In 1973 in Mawangdui, near Changsha (Hunan province), in a tomb containing the mummy of the Marchioness of Dai, there was a silk painting dating from the later HAN dynasty, showing 44 postures. This Qi Gong aims to harmonize the body in a succession of opening and closing movements, ascending and descending, stretching and relaxation. During the practice, we circulate energy through the meridians, which has the effect of strengthening the body, regulating Qi, blood and balancing Yin and Yang. The movements are slow, fluid and soft.
DAOYIN YANGSHENG GONG SHI ER FA : It is a method in twelve movements, it aims to strengthen the circulation through the meridians of the five organs and the six viscera, in order to maintain and heal our body.
DA WU (GREAT DANCE) : This is a method of preserving health that smooths the circulation of Qi and blood through the joints and meridians of the body.
YI JIN JING : The legend says that it was Bodhidharma, a Buddhist monk of Indian origin who created this sequence of twelve postures. These powerful movements strengthen tendons and muscles, they develop internal strength, increase physical capacity, by alternating Yin and Yang. The movements are supple and harmonious. The spine is amply solicited and relaxed.
TAIJI YANGSHENG ZHANG : This Qi Gong requires the use of a stick or a wooden cane (on average 1.20m). It is based on the principles of harmony between Yin and Yang, as represented in the Taiji circle. It is practiced with a view to preserving our health.
- Its benefits -
Qi Gong is similar to Taiji, as a way to balance and improve energy, as it harmonizes, strengthens and generates a healing effect on the functioning of our organs and systems. It increases the flow of energy (Qi/Chi) in the body and induces mental and emotional calm.
Initially, many movements focus on gently opening and stretching joints and muscles, releasing tension. In the practice of Qi Gong, breathing is important : it must be relaxed, slow, deep and coming from the diaphragm.
- Its practice -
Qi Gong is ideally practiced daily for five to twenty minutes. In Shanghai, in public parks, it is common to see people gathering and dancing together. Its graceful form, synchronizing movements and breathing, propels us to higher levels of consciousness, which gives us more control over tension and anxiety.
The modern world needs the ancient arts, we desperately need to relieve ourselves of tensions (inner and outer) and allow us to cultivate our body and soul.
But whether we want to free ourselves from our anxiety or whether we are Yogi or practitioner of Taiji (Tai Chi) in search of deepening, we will not regret trying Qi Gong.
What do you think?