In times like these surely I’m not the only one looking to boost my immune system and calm myself.
All possible with natural energy healing modalities like Yoga and QiGong. I’ve been a practitioner of yoga for 22 years, I started while pregnant with my son- thanks to my amazing friend, Karlinda, who insistently recommended beginner’s Yoga over the TAI BO I was using with the intent to effect a healthy pregnancy. Tai Bo was landing me on my head in the living room daily.
So began my long and beloved yoga practice. The breathing I learned allowed me to deliver my son completely without any painkillers. I had an aversion to pain meds and anesthesia because of the potential risk to my baby and because I have experienced an adverse allergic reaction to every form of anesthesia I’ve ever had to endure.
Yoga is thousands of years old, predating religions of the world. “Yogis recognize Shiva as the first Guru aka yogi, Adiyogi, or Adi Guru.” – The Purpose of Yoga by
David Surrenda (source)
Yoga provides a sense of calm, peace, inner joy, connection- to the energy of others when in class, to the soul, to your purpose. Yoga, while inducing a meditative state, through affirming dedication to caring for my vessel (body) on the surface, but reaching deeper within by encouraging little brave thoughts that I could actually accomplish bringing to life these ideas that ceaselessly tug at my soul to be released and allowed to blossom. Yoga creates a sense of belonging to oneself and at the same time, belonging to the entire universe. While you navigate the asanas (poses), you thoughtfully make minor adjustments until the posture is correct, and hold that pose while your muscles are placed in tension. During this process of paying attention to how you adjust, then hold the pose, your wandering mind steadies, and you enter a meditative state almost without noticing it happening. Many instructors will ask you to set an intention at the beginning of the practice and to maintain that intention throughout your practice. While in the meditative state, that intention takes root in the chakras, and helps you to carry out your intention as you move through your day, effortlessly, ever-present in the waking state. Yoga serves as a vehicle for maintaining a healthy mind-body connection. It increases strength and confidence and is a vehicle for self-care.
QiGong is an approximately 8000-year-old practice that innately combines physical movement with meditation for a mind-body connection providing many varied benefits. It was used as a tool for focus, healing, physical training, and in the traditional passing down of the rules of engagement in ancient Chinese culture. Many of the ancient dynasties had their own style of QiGong. I have studied under the Wah QiGong style, with one instructor, and a combination of 5 other forms with my original instructor.
QiGong, pronounced “Chee-Kung”, and spelled slightly differently from user to user, i.e. ChiKung, ChiGung, QiGung, etc. It is important to understand the meaning of the word, Qi= Breath or Energy, Gong= Work; literally translated, QiGong = Breath Work or Energy Work
Where Pilates works from the core, and Yoga is more about the stretch/hold scenario, and while HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) as the name implies, speaks to moving in sequence through a series of toning/building challenges with the increasing intensity necessary to feel the burn, QiGong is more the gentle, fluid movement seen in the movies in the form of Tai Chi, which is the 8th level of QiGong, and seethe most advanced with the exception of QiGong Medicine/Healing (9th level).
QiGong is typically practiced in a standing form and does not require props or special clothing. Loose clothing, allowing the freedom of movement of every part of the body, is recommended.
Begin by taking a moment in silence to express gratitude. For everything. The physical practice begins after the centering. Begin by shaking the body starting with one leg then the other, one arm including shoulder then the other, head, neck and midsection, shaking every little molecule in your being and waking everything up. Lubricating the joints, synovial fluids are released through spiraling/shaking of limbs and trunk. Next, tapping, aka EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), circulates Qi. It triggers the body’s self-healing mechanisms and assists in the circulation department. Once the body is warmed up and the mind is relaxed and in the flow, the QiGong movement is introduced in a flowing form, gently swinging, rocking and moving with balance. As we cross one body part across our centerline, we engage both the left and right hemispheres of the brain. This is an optimal practice when problem-solving, as well.
QiGong is practiced to achieve balance and a peaceful state, wherein the body and mind can work in unity for maximum efficiency. Yin and Yang forms complement each other and help us to both work the body evenly for toning and support structure and bodily systems and restore a sense of calm.
The movement of Qi throughout the body increases attention and healing energy to the entire body. It is intended to literally massage organs, improve circulation, oxygenate cells, release fluids, stimulate cell regeneration. It is very similar to a yoga flow class, actually. It’s can be done at any age and helps to restore balance to bodies recovering from illness and injury. Daily practice will help the body too regulate all systems, reduce anxiety, improve sleep, flexibility, blood flow, and so much more.
Both Yoga and QiGong offer two workouts for the price of one! One for the body and the other for peace of mind.
QiGong and Yoga both offer breathwork exercises combined with the added benefit of Meditative Movement. The mind is engaged in following form and rhythmic breathing that work together to create the mind-body connection, inducing a meditative state while toning muscle, massaging internal organs, increasing blood flow, alleviating tension, reducing cortisol levels. In this relaxed transcendent state, we are better able to repair internal systems, cells are oxygenated, through increased blood flow, alleviating minor aches and pains, increasing concentration, retention, self-reflection. Muscles and ligaments are stretched, while attention to breathing keeps the stretch in an even to incrementally increasing intensity ultimately leveling out, building stamina and endurance as well as muscle tone.
Also, Yoga, the physical practice is only a fractal of the entire Yogic lifestyle or Ayurveda. In the west, physical practice was introduced to the commercial fitness market separate from any religious practice. Yogis are free to ascribe to any religion independently of your yoga practice. Likewise, with QiGong, you can elect to opt-in only for the physical practice, with mental benefits, but not for any particular religious form. Both, however, have a spiritual component should you decide to deepen your practice intentionally.
So then it just comes down to which is right for you? Yoga or QiGong? Or both?
Similarities each Yoga and QiGong offer:
Tones physical body
Gently assists in the recovery effort, from chronic disease, surgery, injury and emotional trauma
Nurtures mind, body and soul
Improves Energy Levels, restoring enthusiasm for life
Improves Focus allowing a forward progression
Improves Balance, allowing an easier movement through life. Literally.
Improves Outlook, which has an outward ripple effect on others
Improves Confidence, when you’re taking care of yourself, you restore your natural sense of purpose
Inspires You to begin to plan for the future, while fully embracing today.
For beginning either a yoga or QiGong practice from home, I recommend two options available for free on YouTube: Yoga with Adriene or Move with James. Both provide an excellent jumping-off point and you can choose the level of intensity from a host of videos available from either. You can also choose videos to practice that target certain sweet spots, i.e. shoulders and hips, or a 15 Minute Morning QiGong (which is my personal favorite for walking up the entire body gently).
If you just want to dip your toes, try just doing the warm-up shaking exercise as soon as you put your feet on the floor as you get up each morning and feel an immediate improvement in how your joints move as you make your way to the bathroom each day. That alone will help to alleviate joint stiffness and lubricate joints so that everything moves a little easier. It eases arthritis pain almost instantly.
If and when people start to gather again and physical classes are offered in-person again, I strongly recommend attending classes in person as there is a collective connection that is very restorative in sharing a meditative practice in the presence of others that simply isn’t achieved to that extent when practicing alone. The collective energy of an in-person class/practice increases the intensity of shared energy and the mind-body-spirit connection.
Kimberly is a yoga practitioner and QiGong instructor and provides private and group lessons in person or via zoom. Please contact me directly for more info.