Qigong Flow for Beginners
Finding the inner flow
Qigong is the ancient Chinese practice of coordinating breathing and gentle movements while conditioning the body to create healing, balance, and energy within. What is the “flow” in Qigong? One can understand this as the “flow” or circulation of blood throughout the body. As a practitioner and student of Qigong, I would like to share ways to create your own step-by-step flow to experience the powerful effects of Qigong right away.
Start with deep breathing
Breathing is the most important place to start with when beginning Qigong. Without a focus on breathing and a respect for the process of breathing, much of how your body will heal and balance itself will be lost. Much of what is the practice of Qigong will be lost. A focus on one’s breathing triggers the parasympathetic system, which induces relaxation and rest of the body and mind. As your body relaxes, you can begin to focus on the movements that flush toxins from the body, aide in digestion, and tone your muscles. To engage yourself with your breathing, just stop. As you inhale, extend your stomach outwards. You are filling your inner organs with air. Say the word “in” to yourself as you do this. Now, exhale and allow your stomach to withdraw within. You are now expelling the air out of your inner organs. Say to yourself “out”. This practice of saying the words “in” while you inhale and “out” while you exhale helps to provide focus on your breathing.
Go where the air is fresh, where there is flowing air. Outdoor spaces near natural greenery are best, however indoor spaces where the windows have been opened to allow air to enter the room is also sufficient. This is just to get the initial air into your lungs and circulating. Once there, I like to take in a deep inhalation of breath and hold it for four counts: 1-2-3-4. Then, I hold the air inside for four counts. I exhale the air for another four counts. Doing this in repetition 4 to 5 times is enough for me to feel adjusted to a relaxed state-you may need more or less repetitions. Once in that relaxed state, you are ready to begin gently moving the body.
Focus on the posture and movements of your body
As the body is now in a rested and relaxed state, it is ready for purposeful alignment. The opening steps commence adjusting the shoulders, hands and arms as well as the feet and knees.
1. Starting at the top of your head, imagine that there is a string that is connecting your head upwards. This should bring your head slightly upwards.
2.Then, imagine that there is a string that is connecting your lower stomach to the center of wherever you are standing or sitting. The lower hip region will be drawn slightly forwards.
3. This will balance your upper and lower spine as well as it will align your shoulders and hips.
This is the initial position that will guide and center your entire practice.
Your mind’s activity level is very important to monitor. All of the body’s activities start with a command from the brain itself. If you have a lot of distractions in the mind region, the body will not be able to properly carry out the inner work that it should. If you have a lot of thoughts in your mind, try to visualize a calm setting, such as a calm lake or puffy, soft clouds in the sky. This helps to focus and clear your mind from the thoughts.
What follows from this stance are usually gentle, deliberate movements that, depending on what feels good to you, warms your insides. Warm-ups include tapping the body, stretching the arms and legs, as well as twists and turns of ligaments and tendons throughout the body. They are usually used to gather warmth and begin energizing the body. Always stay within your comfort zone, as this is the safest place to be when beginning. As you advance in the warm-ups, you will have a better bodily-awareness of how far you want to take the movements. Feel what your body wants you to feel.
Two classic warm-ups to use in beginning the Qigong flow are called Beating the Heavenly Drum and Ringing the Temple Gong. The names are not as important as the actual movements that you perform. To view a video example of these two warm-ups, please click here.
Finding your inner flow in Qigong should feel effortless and calming. If you feel tightness or tension in any part of your body, then pause. Remember to always start from a place of deep breathing. Then, align the posture and begin with some classic warm-ups. What are some of the benefits of this practice?
- increased balance and coordination
- blood circulation through the body
- decreased stress, tension, and anxiety
- a focused and a meditative mind
With your inner flow stable, you are well on your way to enjoying the many more benefits of the exercise. Check back at this space for more postings on the wonderful art, practice, and medicine that is Qigong. If you have any comments, questions, or would like to add something, please leave them in the comments section.
~Stay in love and in light~