Not long to go now until our Life Leap Retreat North weekend. Eleven Life Leapers which includes five ambassadors will be coming together at High Trenhouse, Malham, North Yorkshire which is a creative management centre set high up on the Yorkshire Moors (26-28th April). Amongst lots of interesting workshops and self-care activities I will be teaching early morning Qi gong and meditation classes.
So what is Qi Gong? Originating from traditional Chinese medicine, Qi gong (pronounced Chi Kung) is a holistic system of co-ordinated body posture and movement together with breathing exercise and meditation, often used for health, spirituality and martial arts training. Qi or chi signifies life-force energy and gong means skill so Qi gong is the skilful practice of gathering, circulating and applying life-force energy. The human body consists of layers of energy that once understood can be balanced, harmonised and strengthened. Research has also discovered that a healthy human vibrational electrical frequency is within the range of 62-72 Hz and when it drops to lower levels it enables the appearance of variety of diseases. For example at the level of 58 Hz, diseases like cold and flu are more likely to appear.
Any activities that improve the vibrational level of the body improve general well-being and its own healing potential. Traditional Chinese medicine believes that the energy body is a template for the physical body, that our emotional energy resonates with life experiences and personal and professional relationships so that our belief systems become encoded in our cell tissue. Scientists have not yet proven the existence of chi, but have confirmed acupoints (gateways of chi along meridians which have a stronger electrical potential than surrounding tissue). All our activity whether it is physical, mental, emotional or spiritual depends on the quality and abundance and free flow of our energy.
I teach three classes a week, two to adults and one to children at my studios in North Yorkshire and we always offer early morning classes on my retreats on the Yorkshire Moors. Qi gong combines fluid, precise dance like movements, controlled breath and meditation in one routine that encourage the use of your mind’s eye to visualise your life energy flowing as you move through space breathing in and out. Both adults and children have noticed changes in their well-being and sleep since learning the techniques.
Qi gong is great for any age or fitness level but especially suited to our older generation as the exercises can be adapted and is more commonly forming part of the care plan for the elderly worldwide. Offering an efficient and powerful way to maintain health with gentle minimum impact, it’s easy on the joints and can be done by people who cannot access other forms of aerobic exercise or yoga.
By increasing the supply and flow of energy throughout the body, it harmonises, strengthens and heals internal organs. Qi gong claims to have rejuvenating effects on the body and is believed to increase longevity of life as well as inducing calm emotional states. The movements focus on gently opening and stretching the joints and muscles of the body therefore releasing tension while increasing the flow of blood and energy and nourishing all parts of the body.
Basic energy exercise to try on your own:
- Rub your hands together to cause friction
- Slowly move your hands apart to feel the energy you have created
Basic energy exercise to try with a partner:
- Sit or stand two arms-length away facing each other
- Ask your partner to close their eyes and take a deep breath
- Relax your shoulders and back muscles
- Imagine chi rising from the earth into your body
- When you sense this energy, ask your partner to extend an arm towards you with the palm facing downward
- Slowly raise your own arm until your palm is within a few inches of their palm
- Using your mind, direct the chi through your body until it passes along your arms and out of your fingertips to theirs
- You should both have a sense of the energy passing through, it may feel tingly
Chi Prayer hands
- Extend your hands in line with your solar plexus, place hands together in a prayer position, close your eyes and begin deep breathing.
- As you exhale slowly move your palms slightly apart, continue inhaling and exhaling
- When you are ready, turn one palm slightly downward and one slightly upward, continue inhaling and exhaling slowly
- Feel the chi/energy building
- Play with your hand movements by moving them further apart in all directions
- Squeeze and release as you feel the energy force between your hands
- Return to starting position
- Move your palms upwards as you inhale and downwards as you exhale, this bow action connects you to earth chi.
Some of this blog is taken from the energy medicine chapter of my latest book – “The Gateway – A journey to re-claim your power from stress and anxiety” Hardback £13.99 (ISBN 978-1-9164610-0-0). For more information on the book or retreats visit www.gaildonnan.com
Namaste and see some of you on the retreat x