Qi Gong Practices

Less Stress | More Energy 

Preventing Disease | Prolonging Life

Qi Gong is an ancient system of postures, exercises, breathing techniques, and meditations dating back over 5,000 years in China. Tai Chi, which may be better known in the West, began much later in the 1700s as a secret self- defense system and is considered a branch or tributary of Qi Gong. Qi Gong is a gentle form of exercise that helps improve health and overall well-being while empowering us to live with calm and peace no matter what is happening around us. Qi Gong may be thought of as ‘the art of effortless power’. Do less and accomplish more.

“Qi” is the Chinese word for life energy and “Gong” means work or skill cultivated through consistent practice. Put together, Qi Gong means ‘cultivating your body's internal energy.’  The three basic roots or forms of Qi Gong are: a) Martial Arts - Military Qi Gong, b) Healing - Medical Qi Gong, and c) Spiritual- Philosophical Qi Gong.

The Qi Gong that Prof Harvey Skinner teaches is modeled after the Holden QiGong School where Prof Skinner is a Certified Tier 1 Holden QiGong
Teacher
(https://www.holdenqigong.com/). These practices draw on the Five Elements (metal, water, wood, fire, earth) and the Three Treasures (jing, qi, shen). Each session includes various exercises that are sequenced according to seven main components:

  1. Breathwork: Deep, slow breathing to slow down the mind and relax the body
  2. Activation Exercises that energize, tonify and strengthen
  3. Stretching Exercises for releasing tension and energy blockages
  4. Massage and Acupressure Practices for release and healing by stimulating the body's energy meridians and acupressure points
  5. Purging Exercises for 'letting go' of negative energy, thoughts, feelings
  6. Flowing Movements that are slow and fluid for centering and balancing
  7. Meditations for calming the mind and being in the moment (mindfulness).

The exercises involve gentle, rhythmic movements mirroring those found in nature such as: a river flowing down a mountain, or a cloud floating through the sky, or a tree in the wind. In Tai Chi various practices may be linked together in a dance like sequence, such as the Beijing 24-posture Simplified Form. There is a saying in Qi Gong that: ‘running water doesn’t get stagnant; swinging door hinges don’t squeak or rust’. Indeed, motion is potion for the body, mind, emotions and spirit.

Qi Gong's practices are designed to enliven the body’s Qi - the fundamental life energy responsible for health and vitality. The three aspects of Qi include the Heaven Qi (all encompassing), the Earth Qi and the Human Qi (each individual, animal and plant has its own Qi field). Human Qi can be differentiated by pre-natal Qi: what we are born with genetically from parents – our basic ‘battery’, and Qi that is gathered from external forces for charging and recharging our battery (especially the lower ‘dan tian’ or ‘hara’).

Think of our body’s meridians as electrical wires, acupressure points as on-off switches, and Qi as the fundamental electricity-energy flowing (or blocked) through our body and the external world. Blocked Qi is like stagnant water, or a hose that has a chink.

In one practice, Qi Gong offers the calming and insight benefits of a meditation session, the flexibility and balance of a yoga class, and the strength and endurance building of a bodyworks or weight training routine.

‘What You Need to Know’

The Qi Gong mind and body practices we practice have evolved over many centuries and generally have good safety records when done properly as I will instruct. Listen to your body and how you are feeling. Not all Qi Gong practices may be good for you. You know your own restrictions so do not push yourself outside of your comfort zone. Under do Principle: Stay under 80% of your maximum effort: the 80% rule. Remember that Qi Gong is your personal journey.

Go gentle. Move smoothly. Avoid sharp pain.

*** Please talk with me about any questions or concerns you have.***

 The Growing Evidence Base

 Research suggest that mind and body practices are helpful for a variety of conditions.

  • Qi Gong – Tai Chi may help improve balance and stability, reduce back pain and pain from knee osteoarthritis, and improve quality of life in people with heart disease, cancer, and other chronic illnesses. Also, Qi Gong can help maintain or improve cognitive function as well as improve core strength and balance. This is important for healthy aging, and especially in the elderly for preventing falls.
  • Meditation may help reduce blood pressure, symptoms of anxiety and depression, and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and flare-ups in people with ulcerative colitis. Meditation may also benefit people with insomnia.
  • Acupuncture - Acupressure may help ease types of pain that are often chronic, such as low-back pain, neck pain, and osteoarthritis/knee pain. Acupuncture may also help reduce the frequency of tension headaches and prevent migraine headaches.
  • Yoga may benefit wellness by relieving stress, supporting good health habits, and improving mental/emotional health, sleep, and balance. Yoga may also help with low-back pain and neck pain, anxiety or depressive symptoms associated with difficult life situations, quitting smoking, and quality of life for people with chronic diseases.

Getting Ready to Practice Qi Gong

Here is important information for getting started with your practice.

  1. The day before each session I will send an email message to participants regarding the theme and focus of the Also, I will send the Zoom link and a reminder to be in Waiting Room by 5 minutes before the start so that I can let you in before the Qi Gong practice begins.
  2. Wear comfortable, loose fitting cloths. I prefer to do the practices in bare feet, so that I can feel grounded to the earth. However, you may choose to wear close fitting slippers or shoes that have good traction.
  3. Have enough space to swing your arms freely in all directions.
  4. Stand where you can best see your computer screen.
  5. Before the practices start, I will ask everyone to have their Zoom program in ‘Speaker’ View so that you can best see me to follow the movements. Also, everyone should Mute their voice connection. I suggest that you keep your Video on so that I can see some of you, but feel free to turn it off.
  6. The Qi Gong practices will run for 30 minutes from noon to 12:30pm. We will start and end on time - I use a timer. After, I will stay online for a Q&A discussion, but this is Optional for everyone.
  7. If you have time before the first session, please read over the Qi Gong Overview on the Stress Busting website: https://stressbusting.info.yorku.ca/. (There will NOT be a test!)
  8. Most Important: look forward to having an active, calming and fun 30 minutes with me, followed by 15 minutes of questions and answers about the practices.

A Simple Explanation of Qi Gong 

When someone asks, “what is Qi Gong?,” the simplest and most clear answer is, “it’s a practice for less stress and more energy.”

Even though this answer doesn’t explain how Qi Gong works, it captures two of the fundamental intentions of the practice. Overwhelmingly, most people respond with a variation of “oh wow, I could use more of that!”

Of course, there are many different layers of Qi Gong. Some are satisfied with the simple answer stated above. And then there are others who are intrigued and want to know more…

For those interested in digging deeper, it’s often a great idea to share a brief history of the practice and explain the meaning of the word, Qi Gong.

Qi Gong was developed by Taoist sages in ancient China over 4,000 years ago. Since that time, it has been an important part of Traditional Chinese Medicine, offering numerous benefits for physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing.

“Qi” means “life-force energy.” Everything that takes place within the body is a reflection of this mysterious energy. Your thoughts, feelings, and physical experiences are all manifestations of Qi within you.

“Gong” means “to work with.” Therefore, Qi Gong means “to work with life-force energy.”

In Qi Gong, working with life-force energy often focuses on letting go of stress, cultivating joy, and boosting physical vitality and health. However, there are limitless ways to apply the principles of Qi Gong to help you live your best life.

Benefits of Qi Gong

Once someone has a basic understanding of what Qi Gong is, they often want to learn what the benefits of the practice are. Here’s where things can get exciting.

First, since Qi Gong is a movement practice, it has many of the same benefits as other forms of exercise. It improves circulation, strengthens the muscles, and increases cardiovascular health. Since there are so many different types of Qi Gong exercises, everyone can find practices to suit their level of physical fitness.

If someone recognizes the importance of going on hikes or working out at the gym, it shouldn’t be difficult for them to understand the value of Qi Gong when it comes to physical fitness.

Second, Qi Gong focuses on gentle stretching exercises that can increase flexibility. Just as people do yoga or stretch their bodies, Qi Gong is another practice that offers the wonderful benefits associated with stretching and flexibility.

Focusing on flexibility is an important part of staying mobile and preventing injury. This is especially true as people grow older. Tao Yin is a form of Qi Gong that emphasizes stretching exercises.

Third, Qi Gong is a form of meditation. Just like physical exercise and stretching, most people recognize the value of meditation. By practicing Qi Gong, it’s easy to experience many of the same benefits of meditation —calming the mind, letting go of stress, and cultivating emotional balance.

In other words, Qi Gong combines the benefits of physical exercise, stretching, and meditation in one practice!

Because Qi Gong offers all three of these positive qualities, it’s a great practice for those who don’t have a lot of time in their schedule for self-care. Instead of meditating, going to the gym, and doing a yoga class, many practitioners feel that many of their needs are still met just by practicing Qi Gong.

Of course, a lot of practitioners also do additional exercise activities and meditation, but qi gong still adds tremendously to their self-care routine.