Back in 2013, a healer said to me “Nicole, you should try Qigong… I think you’d like it”
My response was: I don’t know what that is.
I went home and googled Qigong and discovered that it was a self-healing practice of movement, breath-work and awareness connected to Eastern Medicine. I found the person that would become my first Qigong teacher; Lee Holden and I started practising at home. It felt good, I felt a sense of ease and alignment a sense of inner connection.
Pronounced ‘chee-gong’ and often spelt in a variety of different ways; Qigong, Chi Kung or Chi Gong, it is two words. The first ‘Qi’ meaning life energy and the other ‘Gong’ meaning work, cultivate or training.
The dictionary describes Qigong as ‘a Chinese system of physical exercises and breathing control related to tai chi’. It’s not a great definition, I describe it as a practice of presence, consciousness and connection. In effect, it’s a moving meditation that explores acupressure, slow stretches, gentle flowing movement and stillness. In terms of its relationship to Tai Chi, you can think of Tai Chi as the most well-known form of Qigong. It is said that Tai Chi is Qigong but Qigong is not Tai Chi!
Our modern lifestyles are often characterised by busyness; cramming as much as we can into each day, in every area of life; family, business and leisure. In a nutshell, modern life is Yang – active, engaged, rapid. The opposite aspect of Yang is Yin. Yin is the opposing yet complementary opposite. Think receptive, passive, slow, calm, soft.
To be in balance we must have both Yin and Yang… one cannot exist in harmony without the other. Active, engaged and busy needs slow, rest and calm to endure. It is not possible to have Yang without Yin… not for very long. Too much Yang leads to burnout, overwhelm and depletion.
Qigong is the ultimate yin practice and various studies show us that regular practice delivers many physical, emotional and mental health benefits. An article in Time (2017) titled ‘Why Tai Chi as good for you as Crossfit’ shares that health benefits can include regulated blood pressure, improved immunity and cardiovascular health, as well as lower rates of insomnia, depression, illness and
inflammation. Dr Peter Wayne, director of research at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Harvard Medical School describes it as ‘meditation on wheels’. You receive all the cognitive benefits you might get from meditation; mental clarity and focus and lower stress, AND you’re getting physical exercise.
Ultimately we don’t need more yang, most people seek out high-intensity leisure and fitness activities as a way to relieve stress and overwhelm when what their bodies, minds and spirits are calling for is more yin…more rest, calmer.
Some of the things I love about Qigong…
- It’s accessible. It is possible for people of all levels of fitness and mobility to undertake, the movements and postures are scalable and adaptable depending on a person’s needs.
- It’s easy. You don’t need to twist yourself into a pretzel or almost make yourself sick from exertion.
- You don’t need anything. You can do it anywhere, anytime and in just a few minutes if that is all you have.
- It’s engaging in a completely different way than most other activities and exercise, it’s about practising presence and mastery.
- Doing less. This is a fundamental aspect of the practice. Unlike the rest of our lives (a lot of the time) qigong is about doing less – being more.
Back in 2013 when I discovered Qigong I had no idea that I would end up teaching the practice and that it would change my life in so many ways. I often describe it as a practice of becoming intimately connected to yourself and I believe when you really know yourself you are able to better connect to others and the world around you.
While Qigong has been around for thousands of years it really is still an emerging self-care practice in our modern world… if you’re keen to try it out you can find lots of free videos online, or a Google search will connect you to an in-person Qigong experience where you can not only experience the practice but what is referred to as the ‘Qichang’… the feeling of collective energy produced from practising in a group!
Nicole Lee is internationally certified in Qigong, trained in both Modern and Classical styles, she is also trained in meditation, mindfulness & holds a Bachelor Degree in Complementary Medicine. Founder of a boutique studio ‘Chi Space’, dedicated to the practice of Qigong where she offers classes, workshops and teacher training programs.
Nicole will be taking a Qi Gong class at out upcoming Soul Star Festival. Come see Nicole and all our other amazing speakers at our Soul Star Festival March 1, 2020, in Port Melbourne. To grab your tickets & see the details use this link for Eventbrite.