Upcoming Workshop on Joint Opening and Loosening Exercises, Saturday 6/28/14

For additional information, please visit the event page for this workshop, and indicate your plans for attendance.

Here Are the Basics:

Topic: Joint Opening and Loosening Exercises
Date: Saturday, June 28, 2014
Time: 10:00 am to 1:00 pm
Location: Oriental Medicine and Health Services, 1201 Philadelphia Pike, Suite D, Wilmington, DE 19809
Cost: $65 for the workshop which includes my instructional DVD on the topic (for details on the DVD, click here)
Registration: You must be registered and paid by Thursday, June 19, 2014. Call me at 302-792-2831 or email me at info@omhs.biz for more information. Space is limited, so it is first come first served.

Workshop Content:

You will learning the set of Joint Opening and Loosening Exercises. Below is a video of me doing the set, but trust me, the movements are not as they appear. During the workshop, you will be given very detailed instructions on how to do the movements. You will find yourself learning a very different way of moving than what you are used to. In addition, you will learn how to pressure test the movements so that you can be certain that you are doing them correctly. Remember, you will also be given my instructional DVD on the topic to serve as a reference for your practice at home.

It is Qìgōng (氣功).

The joint opening and loosening exercise set makes for an excellent daily qìgōng routine. It is relatively simple to perform and only takes between 10 to 15 minutes to complete depending on pace. By opening and loosening the joints, you are also helping to open the acupuncture channels in the body, thereby aiding in the circulation of your and blood. There is a saying in China that roughly translates to “a used door hinge never rots.” Regular practice of this set while working on becoming more correct in how you do the set will bring you many worthwhile benefits.

It is also Jīběngōng (基本功).

Jīběngōng translates roughly as basic exercises. This set of joint opening and loosening exercises serves as a set of basic training exercises for developing foundational skills in tàijí. Having open and loose joints is a requirement in tàijí, and in my opinion is an important part of the “sinking” that is also part of tàijí. Doing this set regularly and correctly will help build part of your martial arts foundation.

Additional Benefits

If done conventionally, this set has value in that is keeps you moving and able to maintain range of motion into your old age if practiced carefully and daily. However, I do these movements in a specific manner driven by awareness. Done this way, this set is a vehicle for discovery of what it means for a joint to be open and how to maintain that openness. Having open joints, in my opinion, is not only a basic requirement for internal martial arts and for allowing forces to pass through the body, but it is also an important part of good qìgōng, allowing for better circulation of the and blood. I feel that if physical forces can get stuck in your body at certain points, then the and blood flow can be negatively affected at those points as well. Therefore, not only will regular correct practice of this set help bring about many health benefits including more freedom of movement, but it can also improve your practice of ANY martial art.

A FREE Bonus

Though the workshop ends at 1:00 pm, we will be breaking for lunch and returning at 2:00 pm to watch a kung fu movie. I have not yet decided which movie to show, but as a workshop attendee, you are welcome to watch the movie with me. If you are a kung fu movie fan, then you know it will be fun.

The Flyer

Click on the flyer for a larger, printable version.

JOLE workshop 140621

Click this link for a PDF file of the flyer.

Video of the Set of Joint Opening and Loosening Exercises

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Thanks for taking to the time to look at all of this. I hope to see you there.

Soft Does Not Mean Weak

soft

In martial arts there are two very different types of systems: soft, internal styles and hard, external styles. There are others as well and those that purport to mix, but I want to focus on those two, and in particular, the soft, internal styles as a contrast to the hard, external styles. The words “soft” and “hard,” as commonly used in English, are opposites, polar opposites in fact, representing a continuum of strong, resistant solidity. I feel this common usage of those terms has clouded the meanings and roused misconceptions, particularly of “soft” as used in internal martial arts. Note that in this article, I will be, for ease of explanation, over-simplifying a bit, but not to the point of error.

There is a common phrase from Chinese philosophy that states that “softness overcomes hardness” or that “the soft overcomes the hard.” People often look at this as philosophical mumbo jumbo. I have listened to someone say that if they took their hard finger and poked someone in their soft eye, the finger would win. That statement says a lot. It pokes (pun intended) fun at ancient wisdom and shows that soft things have a weakness that is ready to be exploited by hard things. It also highlights a major misconception which I will expand on later. As a counterpoint, the classic example of water is given: water erodes rock and creates things such as the Grand Canyon. However, this is not practical in a fight. Am I to drool on someone continuously over centuries, patiently awaiting victory? No.

Is it the case that the phrase should not be taken literally? Is soft weak? No, and no. The phrase is very literal, and soft does not mean weak. In martial arts the term hard is used in the common way. It means solid, strong, powerful. Of course, within the broad category of external martial arts there are styles that are considered hard and those that are considered soft. However, the word “soft” as used in external styles does not have the same meaning as “soft” as used in internal styles or T’ai Chi in particular. Even within internal martial arts, there are styles that are seen as hard and those that are seen as soft. However, “hard” as used in internal styles does not have the same meaning as “hard” as used in external styles. I am not going to cover all of those variations. I will stick to the original contrast.

If soft is not weak, then why is it perceived as such? I feel it is the result of two very closely related issues. One is that people have trouble getting away from the preconceived notion of soft and hard as being polar opposites. The other is widespread incorrect practice of soft, internal martial arts.

Hard is simple to do. It is how we would normally react. I tend to use the phrase “conventional strength” when talking about hard strength as used in external martial arts. Kids fighting in the playground or adults fighting in a bar are examples of hard, though not necessarily trained or skilled hard. External martial arts train hard to become harder, stronger, and faster through use of good structure, strength training, more stamina, and efficient strategies. There is much overt and visible strength in these hard styles.

Let us return to soft now. Hard seems clear and much strength is used. If soft is the polar opposite of hard, then much less strength must be used, right? This is where the problem is and can be seen in bad T’ai Chi all over the world. There is a saying about T’ai Chi that goes something like this: “Done right, T’ai Chi is the best martial art. Done wrong, it is the worst.” Best and worst are both extreme, and I am not going to get into that, especially the idea of T’ai Chi being the best. I do not want to start that kind of argument here. However, done poorly, T’ai Chi is a very, very bad martial art. This is because those people want to be soft without really knowing what soft is. They relax because they know they should relax without really knowing what the right kind of relaxation is. They give up using as much conventional strength as they can because they know they are not supposed to be forceful. So, what happens then? The person ends up being relaxed in a way that still has the joints closed even though the joints should be open. Because they lack clarity as to what soft is and they have tried to give up conventional strength, what they end up doing is using tiny bits of conventional strength in order to move around. Being “relaxed” and using tiny bits of conventional strength may seem radically different than methods employed by hard external martial arts, but it is actually the same, still hard, just much, much less hard. This is why bad T’ai Chi is not effective as a martial art. What we end up having is someone being hard and strong against someone being hard (without knowing it) while at the same time being passive and weak (tiny amounts of conventional strength).

This is not what soft is supposed to be in internal martial arts. The soft of internal martial arts is not the polar opposite of the hard of external martial arts. They are not on a continuum. You cannot get to one from the other. They are different things, even though they both use the human body in similar shapes performing similar techniques. When encountering a force from an opponent, if being hard, there are 2 main possibilities: resist or withdraw. For those not trained or skilled, this can be blatant; resisting becomes hard clashes and withdrawing becomes moving out of the way or even running away. For those with training and skills, it becomes more subtle, resisting and withdrawing are done at angles to the force, and timing becomes very important. However, conventional strength is still being used to either do something to the force or to get away from the force, and because conventional strength is still being used, it is hard and external. What, then, is soft?

In T’ai Chi, it is said that one should neither resist nor withdraw. Those 2 options are so typical and ingrained that it is difficult for people to even fathom that there is a 3rd possibility. However, it is this 3rd possibility that is the realm of softness. When teaching beginners, I refer to it as option 3 or door number 3. Furthermore, it is because option 3 is something very different than the other 2 options that I can say that this kind of soft is not on a continuum with that kind of hard. In fact, engaging in resisting or withdrawing keeps option 3 from happening. So, what is option 3?

Option 3 is allowing the force to pass through your body without it adversely affecting your balance or stability. This cannot happen if you withdraw from the force. If you withdraw, then the force does not enter in order to pass through. This also cannot happen if you resist, even if you use just a tiny bit of conventional force as your resistance. If you resist a force, then the force will land on and / or in you depending on various factors. If the force lands on and / or in you, then, once again, it cannot pass cleanly through you. For instance, if someone strongly grabs you and you hold strongly against it (resisting) so as to remain upright and in control of yourself, then the force of the interaction lands in you and will be felt in the areas of tension in your body. Your muscles would be strongly stabilizing your joints so you could try to be stable, and other muscles would be engaged in order to act out against the force. In this kind of situation, the bigger, stronger, faster person wins because the forces involved have less of an effect on their balance and stability, and therefore, ability to generate power, than the smaller, weaker, slower person. Of course, as I mentioned earlier, hard external training aims at making you stronger and faster, but also teaches strategy involving angles and timing in order to minimize the effect of the strength of the opponent on your stability and balance. However, by neither withdrawing nor resisting (option 3), you allow the force to enter your body and pass cleanly through it without it affecting your stability and balance, thereby preserving your power base and upsetting the power base of your opponent. The opponent’s power base gets upset because in most cases (depending on specifics regarding intention and technique of the soft internal practitioner), the power is returned to the opponent using various methods (depending on the style and branch of soft internal martial art). The harder they are and the more direct force they use, the more force that gets returned to them. It is as if they are fighting themselves. Furthermore, it confuses them to some degree because they are not getting the tactile feedback that they are used to getting.

All throughout life, the norm is using conventional force and either withdrawing from or resisting against forces that your encounter. Your body and mind are conditioned to what that all feels like. It becomes your sense of physical reality. If you are being hard and strong and your opponent is doing option 3, that will feel very different from what you are used to feeling. It is that odd feeling that is labeled as “soft.” That is the meaning of soft, and it is not weak. In fact, ideally it is as strong as whatever force is being manipulated.

So far, I have only touched on using the opponent’s force, but there are various ways of creating a force from the core of your body near your center of gravity (different styles and branches of internal martial arts may use different methods) that do not require you to brace hard and strongly against the ground in order to impact your opponent. When that force you create is “released” it passes cleanly through through your body in the same way that your opponent’s force passes cleanly through your body. This force is in addition to any force that your opponent is unwittingly supplying to the equation. Again, because this released force does not have a background of resisting or withdrawing to it, the way it feels to an opponent does not coincide with his normal sense of feel in a physical contest. It has that same odd feeling that is labeled as “soft.”

Other than feeling odd, what else is soft? The main characteristic seems to be that it is difficult to detect where the force is coming from. The “softer” the practitioner is, meaning the more cleanly the forces can pass through them, the more difficult it is to detect where the force is coming from when they apply it to you. Because your normal sense of physical interactions involve you either resisting or withdrawing from a force, when you encounter a force but cannot feel where the force is coming from, you cannot resist it because you cannot properly align against it. Also, depending on how well the internal martial artist can stick to and follow you, it can be also become very difficult to withdraw from them.

How does one become soft, allowing forces to pass through? That is a different discussion for a different time. However, I hope that I have given you a sense of what soft is and why it feels odd. Furthermore, I hope you now understand that this soft is not the polar opposite of and on a continuum with hard and so should not be considered as weak. It is the internal practitioners who do not enter door number 3 or who do enter but never get sufficiently skilled at it (the overwhelming majority of people who practice internal martial arts) who end up still using tiny bits of conventional strength and evasively withdraw from forces that have allowed the perpetuation of the misconception that soft is weak. Me? I keep working on becoming a clear conduit for forces, stripping away the errors little by little.

Pole Squats

Pole Squat

Below is my video that depicts a variation of an exercise used in internal martial arts referred to as wall squats or face the wall squats. Instead of facing a wall, one faces a pole in order to use the pole for balance. Note that the feet are together, side by side, in this exercise. Therefore, it is more difficult to do a full squat without falling backwards. If the feet were shoulder width apart, this exercise would be much easier in that regard. However, please keep the feet together.

A main goal of this exercise is to help open and loosen the yao, including the lumbar spine, the sacrum, the pelvis, and the hips. Keep relaxed during the exercise, and do not let the buttocks protrude. The head and torso should move together down or up as a single unit with the legs folding and unfolding naturally. Do not bend the legs purposefully, and do not push up from the ground. Try to depend on the pole as little as possible until you are able to do the exercise without using your hands on the pole. At that point, you can just do regular face the wall squats.

Here is the video, and do not forget to subscribe to my channel:

My T’ai Chi Journey and How I Met My Teacher, Chung-jen Chang

bca and cjc

Before telling the part of the tale involving my teacher, I have to start a little further back to put it all into context. It was 1990. I saw a flyer for a local kung fu school, and one of the styles that it offered was T’ai Chi. I already had previous martial arts experience, but I had always wanted to learn kung fu, and I was previously not aware of any local kung fu schools. This was great, I thought, and the fact that T’ai Chi was being offered made it even better.

About 2 years prior, I was at a friend’s house watching a martial arts documentary, The Warrior Within. Masters from various martial arts were showcased including a few from various styles of kung fu. Of particular interest to me was the demonstration by Eagle Claw Master Leung Shum. Rather than demonstrating Eagle Claw, however, he performed Wu Style T’ai Chi. I had not seen anything like that before, and that combined with the hypnotic 1970’s styled deep-voiced commentary had me hooked. I needed to study T’ai Chi.

Back to the flyer: there it was, T’ai Chi at a local kung fu school. I enthusiastically signed up and studied everything they offered including various external styles of kung fu, many traditional kung fu weapons, and, of course, T’ai Chi. The T’ai Chi classes had much less attendance than the external style classes. It was not everyone’s cup of tea. As time passed, I became an instructor at the school, teaching both the external style classes, including weapons, and the T’ai Chi classes. At first, I assisted in teaching the T’ai Chi classes, and then later, I completely led the classes.

During that time, I competed in various tournaments, competing in external styles, both empty hand and weapons, and in T’ai Chi, both forms divisions and pushing hands divisions. I placed in every tournament I every competed in without exception. I thought that I was good at T’ai Chi and that I knew what I was doing. Hey, I even read the Classics. My T’ai Chi seemed to work well even in sparring against external styles. Even though I was not able to duplicate the feats attributed to masters of the past, I assumed that if I continued to practice what I had been taught, that I would continue getting better at what I had been taught, and that it would all come together. Little did I know that I could not get there from where I was. Unfortunately, that is just how T’ai Chi is: off by an inch, miss by a mile. Without a proper foundation, you will never do more than an external representation of T’ai Chi. No matter how clever and sensitive your moves, no matter how effective your techniques, it will still not be T’ai Chi. I, however, was blissfully ignorant. How could I have known?

It is time to introduce an important character in this story: Bill. Bill had joined the same kung fu school after I had already become an instructor. Initially, he studied both the external styles offered and T’ai Chi, however, in time, he had settled in with just T’ai Chi. He was my most dedicated student and took it all very seriously. He eventually plateaued and made me aware of my own plateau. At this point, I had been with that kung fu school over 5 years. The head teacher of the school did not seem to have anything else to offer in regards to T’ai Chi. Bill asked me if I could recommend another teacher that he could study with. I did not know of anyone in the area, but I gave it some thought. I remembered that one of the friends that I made at the tournaments, Al Jean, was an instructor under Yang Jwing-Ming. Both Bill and I were familiar with Yang Jwing-Ming through some of his books and videos. Though Al Jean did live in Boston, I knew at the time that he had recently moved to the Baltimore, MD area. I knew Al always did well at the tournaments, and I assumed that if he was an instructor under Yang Jwing-Ming, then he must have a decent set of T’ai Chi knowledge and skill. So, I recommended that Bill get in touch with him. I cannot recall if it was I or Bill who had found his contact information, regardless, Bill contacted Al Jean and had a fateful conversation.

Bill explained to Al who he was, how he knew me, and what he was looking to learn. Al decided to steer Bill in another direction. Al was under instructions from his own teacher, Yang Jwing-Ming, to seek out instruction from Chung-jen Chang of Bowie, MD while Al was living in Baltimore. Yang Jwing-Ming would have Chung-jen Chang teach various workshops at his school in Boston and thought highly of him, so he thought his own advanced student / assistant Al would do well to study with Chung-jen while he had the chance. Bill contacted Chung-jen and started studying with him in 1995.

For about a year while he was taking private lessons with Chung-jen, Bill would still work out with me regularly. He would show me what he was learning, which was a lot of basic exercises, no work on the form. Considering the T’ai Chi background that I had, this seemed strange to me, and the basic exercises seemed similar to ones that I had already taught Bill. Of course, my eyes only saw the outer shell of things because I did not know any better. Bill insisted, however, that Chung-jen was very knowledgeable and skilled.

About a year later, June 1996, the kung fu school at which I taught was set to perform during the Masters’ Demonstration at the 3rd World Wushu Games held in Baltimore, MD. Bill informed me that Chung-jen would be there performing as well. I was excited about getting to meet Chung-jen. During the event (when I was not engaged in conversation with Cynthia Rothrock), Bill kindly introduced me to Chung-jen. He seemed friendly enough, but I did not know what to think. I was anxious to see him perform.

Wow! I sure did see him perform. Though I did not really know the depth involved in what I was seeing, I could plainly see that it was qualitatively different than any other T’ai Chi performance that I had ever seen. His movements seemed very precise, very together, and very flowing. His stances were low, but he looked very relaxed. In the Yang style sword form that he performed, the sword was clearly an extension of his body, a part of the whole. The Zhaobao small frame (Hulei Jia) form that he performed, showed me a coordination, flexibility, and type of strength that I had never seen.

I was seriously impressed. About a month later in July 1996, I started studying with Chung-jen. Bill and I were taking private lessons together in Yang style T’ai Chi at the rate of about 1 to 2 lessons per month. After about a year or so later, I started learning Chen style T’ai Chi with Chung-jen on Saturdays in a class setting rather than having private instruction. During that time, I continued the private lessons in Yang style T’ai Chi at the same rate. I did not mind the 2 hour drive each way at all. It was worth it. This went on until November 1999 when I moved to San Diego.

I learned much during that time period, but I was never quite able to pick up what Chung-jen was putting down when it came to internal power. I found a good training partner, Jim Hogg, while I was in San Diego, and we worked out for hours at a time, usually twice a week. I also visited the East coast twice and had more private lessons with Chung-jen. Then, one day, in mid 2001, I got sick.

To say I got sick is an understatement. This would end up being a chronic illness that wasted me away, literally dropping my weight down to 106 lbs at 5’ 5”, an illness that lasted a trying 9 years. I had some type of dysautonomia which was never fully diagnosed let alone adequately treated. I had to stop the workouts. It took all of my strength just to finish Chinese Medical School, which is why I was in San Diego. During 2004, my last year in San Diego, I had just enough strength to start training again, but only for very small periods of time. At first, I would work out literally for just one minute. I was determined.

I moved back to Delaware at the end of December 2004. A few months later, I had regained another small portion of strength, enough to get my Chinese medical practice up and running. I also decided to teach T’ai Chi and Qigong. Honestly, teaching those two classes was the only physical activity I was capable of doing. Somehow, I was able to teach and do those 2 things and mostly feel OK while doing them, but nothing else. Have me walk down the street or up a flight of steps or carry groceries into the house, and I was beat. It did help that my students were mostly there for the health benefits and not for martial arts training.

I knew my skill level was not what it should have been. I was, however, blessed with a good memory, and so I continued practicing all that Chung-jen had taught me and did get better at what I had been doing, but I had truly plateaued once more. I knew I wanted to study with Chung-jen again, but I was embarrassed. I was a weak shell of my former physically fit, strong, flexible self. Then, one day, I got a new training partner. This was in March 2010.

He would work out with me a few times a week. I slowly started to build up stamina and strength from the workouts, and luckily, some of that extended to my activities outside of T’ai Chi and Qigong. I tried to get him to understand the inner workings of what Chung-jen was trying to teach me, but it was futile being that I did not have a good grasp of it myself. We did, however, get very efficient at what we were doing, but in the end it was still mostly external.

A few months later, my training partner declared that he absolutely must start studying with Chung-jen and that I must go, too. Though I was still feeling embarrassed and inadequate, I called Chung-jen and set up a lesson. I had kept in touch with him over the years via Christmas cards and occasional letters, so it was not quite like I was just calling out of the blue. Still, he was glad to hear from me, and we set up a private lesson for July 2010.

We showed Chung-jen what we had been working on, and he seemed interested that we had discovered a few things. That lesson, he taught us some things that made a major difference in my T’ai Chi. The door had opened. Chung-jen stated to me, “You have been in high school long enough. It is time to graduate and go to college.” I was totally psyched.

As we continued with private lessons, I was finally catching on to what Chung-jen had been trying to teach me previously and what I had been working on for so long. There were times when Bill, who introduced me to Chung-jen, would attend the private lessons with us as well. My training partner and I worked out several times a week, a few hours at a time. Also, during this time period, my health situation changed for the better rather quickly, and though I am now still not 100%, and I still must avoid certain activities, I am doing much better. I completely credit the “new” T’ai Chi that I was learning from Chung-jen and practicing regularly with my training partner. We got what we thought was really good, really fast. However, each time we would go for another lesson, Chung-jen effortlessly showed us the great divide between our skill level and his. He did not do this explicitly. It would just become very obvious during the course of the lesson. This went on until September 2013 when it finally sunk in about how to judge myself and what it was I needed to do in order to continue to acquire more and more skill. I felt like a total dummy leaving that lesson, but within a week, I realized that in many ways, it was my best lesson yet.

It is now March 2014, and I have not had a lesson with Chung-jen since that September 2013 lesson. Worse yet, circumstances have changed, and my training partner and I do not have the same access to one another like we used to have. Workouts have been infrequent. During this time period, I have once again started focusing on basics. I have been trying to build a better root and work on being more song (relaxed). This is what Chung-jen kept trying to tell me. The “higher level” stuff, mostly involving yi (mind intend) that I was doing would fall apart against someone with skill because I did not have a good enough physical foundation behind it. I am, however, glad that Chung-jen answered all of my questions, humoring me, showing me how to do higher level skills. This kept me motivated; I felt like I was getting somewhere, having something to show for my efforts. It got me healthy.

Now, though, it is time to really get down to business. I have a lesson this coming Sunday with Chung-jen, a long overdue one. I really just want to work on zhan zhuang (standing), song (relaxing), and how to properly move my arms and legs. I cannot emphasize just how important those things are. The first 30 minutes of the lesson are going to be jibengong (basic exercises) as usual, and it scares me to think about it. Honestly, it is like you have to train to get into shape to just be able to make it through those exercises with him. Then, I am going to feel wasted for the next 30 minutes, as I try to get my body to behave after that initial gauntlet, if you will. It will be worth it though, because the rest of the lesson will be chock full of basics, just like I want, just like I need.

So, that is my T’ai Chi story, up until now. I hope you enjoyed it. I know I have.

Can qigong be practiced too much?

standingstake

I have neglected this blog for far too long. Part of the reason for that is that I have so many different topic and tidbits to share that I never know where to begin, so I put it off.

However, a student recently asked me if she could practice qigong too much. While giving my answer, I decided that I should include that information here. After all, my blog is supposed to be an extension of my website which contains only basic information about what I do and offer at OHMS. My blog gives me a chance to expand and further reveal.

The qigong that I teach is general in a way that works the entire body evenly, and when practiced correctly, there are no dangers of creating blockages or stagnations. Though qigong practices that are specific to certain areas of the body or to certain acupuncture channels do have their uses and benefits, I feel a general qigong practice is going to be more beneficial overall, a better long-term strategy for health, and safer.

So, can one practice qigong  too much?

The short answer is yes and no. Let me explain.

If you are practicing correctly and the qigong that you are practicing is a safe one (not all qigong practices cultivate health or healthy mental states), then you cannot practice too much providing the following circumstances are considered and met also.

  1. You need to sleep. Is your practice interfering with your ability to achieve good sleep? Are you practicing when you should be sleeping? Good sleep is very important and should not be sacrificed for practice.

  2. You need to eat. Is your practice interfering with your appetite or digestive abilities? Are you practicing so much that you neglect eating? Eating good food at regular intervals is another important aspect of a healthy life and should not be sacrificed for practice. Drinking (mostly water) is also included in this notion.

  3. Do not neglect personal hygiene. Practicing to the exclusion of personal hygiene is not acceptable. Personal hygiene plays an important roll in good health that should not be overlooked.

  4. Do not ignore your social, fiscal, or educational duties. We are social creatures, and though some people have more active social lives than others, this edict still applies. If you have friends and family that you normally talk to or hang out with, do not isolate yourself from them or cut ties with them just because of qigong practice. Interactions with friends and family are part of good mental health. Also, if you work, keep working. Do not miss work because of your qigong practice. Do not forget to pay your bills, either. If you are in school, definitely keep up with your studies. Qigong practice can be fit into your free time, even if free time is scarce and at irregular intervals.

  5. Basically, numbers 1 through 4 can be over-simplified as “do not become obsessed.” This is an actual danger of practice. There is also a validly recognized physiological disorder called “qigong psychosis” (aka qigong deviation syndrome). This comes about from too much incorrect practice or from too much or non-supervised practice of more specific (and possibly dangerous) qigong exercises. I will not go into all of the details here, but a decent read on the topic can be found here.

  6. Do not practice while you are ill. I know that sounds a little strange because qigong is supposed to make us healthier, right? Basically, one should not practice during the acute stages of a disease process or illness. For instance, if you are coming down with a “cold,” then do not practice qigong during that time. However, if the acute symptoms of the “cold” are gone but you have a lingering productive cough, you may practice. In fact, the right kind of practice can help to open the lungs and clear the phlegm.

  7. Do not wear yourself out. If you are practicing so much that you are physically worn out and lacking energy most of the time, then you have practiced too much. Even easy, gentle exercises can eventually take their toll. There is nothing wrong with getting a good workout if that is your intention, but you must allow for recovery time.

Those are the main points, and to many they will seem like common sense. However, the above issues are all worth enumerating and explaining. Qigong is a great practice and can do us much good, but there are potential negative results.

My suggestions for practicing qigong are as follows:

  1. Set aside at least 30 continuous minutes to practice qigong. If time and your physical condition allows, 60 minutes or even 120 minutes would be better. This large continuous block of time should constitute your main practice for the day. If you are able to do this twice a day, then that is fine also. Do not let this guideline scare or discourage you. If you can only find 10 or 15 minutes, then use that time to practice because a little bit is better than nothing.

  2. Not everyone can manage to provide for such a block of continuous time each day. Whether you can or not, you can practice more, at shorter intervals, throughout the day. If you have 5 free minutes here, and 10 there, and 3 at another time, then you can utilize those minutes to work on specific aspects of your qigong practice. For instance you can just work on keeping a clear mind, or you can just work on relaxed, slow abdominal breathing. You may choose to just stand and work specifically on relaxing your hips and waist area. You get the idea. Use the small amounts of free time that you have throughout the day to help fine-tune your practice or to help you get over those sticking points. That way, when you do have a larger continuous block of time, your practice can be more meaningful.

That’s about it. Qigong has tremendous depth. There is much to be discovered in even the simplest of exercises, and the more correctly it is done, the more benefits you will get from your practice. Also, practice is the key, so spend as much time practicing as you can. Like I said above, the things I stated here are fairly basic, but I think it helps to have it all spelled out and in one place. I hope this helps you.

If you have any questions about these points, please let me know.

Welcome to My Blog

This blog represents my thoughts about me, my business, Oriental Medicine, the profession, T’ai Chi, and Qigong.

I will also be posting more in-depth information  and articles about various topic found in the main pages of my website.  Therefore, my blog also supplements my website.

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