The seminar was hosted by Joe Worthington of Jungle Brothers Movement.
Qi can be thought of as bioelectrical / magnetic energy.
Stan dispensing the knowledge
Check Stan out on Facebook and the web
Five Aspects of Traditional Chinese Medicine
Only Qigong is a solo practice. Also known as Daoyin.
External exercise - Jiu Jitsu, Martial Arts, Weight Training, etc. depletes energy.
Internal exercise / Qigong is like recharging a battery.
Qigong is of two types:
Static - both standing and seated
Big 3 Foundational Principles
- Regulating the Body
- Regulating the Breath
- Regulating the Mind
Regulating the Body
Bowling ball posture - feet shoulder width apart, tilt the bottom of the pelvis forward and bend the knees slightly. Knees should not go in front of the toes. Hold the hands near the waist as if you are holding an imaginary bowling ball. Over time, you may begin to "feel" a ball of energy and your fingers begin to tingle as the qi flows.
Shaking/bouncing - from the centre, not the legs
Twisting - fast, arms loose
Twisting two - slap lower back and chest with alternate hands as you twist to each side
Bend from the waist and shake alternate arms downwards - centre, left and right
A video demonstrating these appears below.
Regulating the Breath
Sleeping posture - lie on the back, feet drawn up, let knees fall out to the side in a butterfly position. Hands have fingers interlaced and rest on the belly / Tan tien. Can also have arms overhead to reduce anxiety.
Sleeping on the side - Sleep on right side, so the heart is on the upside and not smothered by other organs' weight. Knees are not stacked.
The yoga Child Pose (Balasana) with outstretched arms can be adopted immediately after waking if you are feeling fatigued or otherwise out of sorts on waking. Hold for up to 10 minutes. Also a good posture for upper back mobility.
Child Pose (Balasana)
Seated Meditation and Breathing
A small cushion to sit on is recommended to make the posture easier and help stop you rounding the back.
Place one heel directly in front of the perineum (between anus and genitals). The Kegel exercise targets this part of the anatomy. It is believed that Qi will leak from here unless the heel is there to block it. The other heel goes directly in front of that foot. The posture is Siddhasana in Yoga (the Adept's Pose). As in the image below, though the hand position is different.
Move the butt back on the cushion so you have a very slight forward lean. This will help prevent rounding your back from fatigue.
Place your thumb on your palm the pad of your thumb touching the palm just below the ring finger. Close the fist around the thumb lightly but completely. Rest each upturned fist on the corresponding knee.
From here, clench the fist over the thumb
Types of Breathing
In all cases we try to breath using the diaphragm, and not the clavicular muscles. You should be able to "breathe into the kidneys" so the breath expands the lower ribs and abdomen out to the sides and rear.
Regular breathing - as you inhale, deep into the lower lobes of the lungs, allow the abdomen to expand out. As you exhale, the abdomen comes in.
Reverse breathing - as you inhale, pull the abdomen in, and lift the perineum and anus up. Hold this position briefly, everything drawn in and up (rising). Relax as you exhale and allow the abdomen to expand out, sinking into the abdomen.
Combination breathing - inhale into the upper chest, pulling in the abdomen and pelvic floor. Hold, relax and transfer the breath down sinking down into the lower lobes of the lungs as the abdomen goes out. Exhale. Like a see saw.
In general, static qigong uses regular breathing, moving qigong uses reverse breathing. But you can practice both styles either way.
We performed an exercise for the lung meridian (see videos below)
Regulating the Mind
In Chinese Medicine, there is a concept of the Heart Mind. As if we had two brains, one in the head and the second in the solar plexus (where the is an anatomical nerve plexus).
We did a standing exercise where it was important to lift and inhale as we raised our arms up, twisting our shoulders one way and our pelvis the other, so the nexus of the twist was in the spine at solar plexus level. To be honest I can't remember this that well and probably conflated it with the third qigong exercise in the videos below.
We sit, as for seated breath meditation above, and perform the "turtle breath", tilting out heads far back so ass to engage the traps as we inhale and imagine breathing in white smoke or white light. Then we take our head forward as we exhale all our worry, stress, fear and negativity.
Internal Exercise has been described as working IN, not working out.
Internal exercise left column, external right
Wim Hof's methods have a different purpose than does Qigong. Adrenalizing the body to withstand extreme cold or other stress. Impressive as hell, but for different goals than those of Qigong.
Eastern philosophy is about experiential thinking, seeing for yourself.
Western philosophy is more logic and theory.
Videos and Qigong Exercises
Most of these videos were taken the day after the seminar. Obviously, I had just learned the exercises and have much practice to undertake. Use them to jog your memory, not as any sort of technical reference.
In general, inhale when the body extends or straightens, exhale when contracting or bending. There are exceptions to this rule which I try to elucidate below as necessary. Staying relaxed and keeping a flow going with the breath is better than tensing up to try to keep too "correct" a breathing pattern. It would be a mistake to take my breathing cadences in the descriptions as gospel. They are my best memories, and in some cases, guesses.
For some movements you must learn to "budget" your breath to match the movements, not breathing too fast or too slow. If you cannot sustain a particular breathing patter, because it takes too long, try speeding up the movement to match your breath capabilities.
Return to the bowling ball position between exercises.
Shake, Twist, etc. for Regulating the Body
Not sure the last one (bending) is quite right.
Shake, rattle and roll
You hear breathing during the videos below, taken at Red Boat Wing Chun Global HQ. I don't think it's me, there are other people off camera doing "external" exercise (Jiu Jitsu) 😉
Exercise for the Lung Meridian
From the bowling ball position, inhale and lift your hands to the prayer position. (Exhale and?) push forward shoulder high, arms horizontal, leading with the fingers, getting a stretch across the upper thoracic spine. Inhale, open and stretch the arms to the sides, leading with the wrists. Hold the breath, clench the fists and tense the arms while outstretched. Slowly lower the arms, exhaling, while progressively relaxing shoulders, elbows, wrists, fingers. Repeat. (In the video the final relaxation phase is done too early and too fast).
First Qigong Exercise
Still inhaling, open arms wide to the sides, leading with the wrists.
Exhale, bring the arms back in to the front, leading with the palm heels , no closer than shoulder width (otherwise you start to clench the pecs). Still exhaling, lower arms, palm heels leading, back next to your hips. Repeat.
You are "swimming in air", according to Stan.
Second Qigong Exercise - The Six Harmonies
Exhale, reach out forward with your open left hand, turning the body and extending the shoulder into it, but not bending at the waist. Grasp an imaginary object and inhale, bringing the fist back to your side.
Repeat with the right hand.
Reach out with your left hand, exhaling, to the left side, grasp and inhale as you return. Your gaze follows your hand.
Repeat on the right side.
Turn to your left and reach back behind you with your left hand, exhaling, grasp, inhale and return, gaze following your hand.
Repeat on the right side.
Bring your left palm up in front of your face, as if you are a waiter offering a menu. The hand circles down toward the floor as you exhale, bend forward at the waist, and continues behind you and up until overhead as you inhale, straighten your body up again, continuing forward and down, exhale, bending at the waist until your hand nears your left foot. Now swing your left hand across towards your right foot, continuing over to the right and inhale, circling overhead as you straighten up, continuing out to your left side, exhaling, once again reaching and grasping an imaginary object. Inhaale and bring the fist back to the hip. So your arm first circles forward in the direction of the sagittal/medial plane, and then sideways the direction of the coronal/frontal plane.
Repeat on the right side.
Third Exercise - Press Up, Grab from the Earth
This exercise activates the Triple Warmer (San Jaio) and associated TCM internal structures.
From the bowling ball position, inhale and lift your forearms, palm side down, until your hands are level with your shoulders. At the same time, turn your shoulders about 45 degrees to the left, while trying to turn your pelvis, back the other way, so you are getting torsion in your spine centred around the solar plexus level. Continuing the movement, still inhaling,turn the palms over and press upward with the hands, to full extension, but not tense, keeping the twist. Now exhale, reverse the direction of the push, coming back down and pushing toward the floor, still keeping the twist to the left. As you reach the limit of your mobility (without strain), inhale and reach out with your hands and scoop up and imaginary double handful of good energy from the earth. Bring it back up to the bowling ball position.
Repeat on the other side, turning to the right.
Fourth Exercise - Waist Twist
Bowling ball position. Bring your palms up and cross your arms at the wrists, left hand on top. Inhale and push the hands out horizontally as far as you can without strain, then, still inhaling, open the arms out to the side. Without moving your feet or bending over, exhale and twist at the waist to look behind you, as your left hand moves down. until the back of the hand is resting on your lower spine at the level of your Tan Tien (a bit below the level of your belly button), and your the back of your right hand is out in front of your forehead. Unwind and return to the crucifix position, inhaling, and still inhaling, bring your elbows in to your sides, contract, bring the knees in, bending the wrists, to what Stan calls the "retarded duck" position. Exhale, open out to the crucifix position and then lower your arms to the bowling ball position.
Repeat pressing out with the right hand on top, and twisting to the right. Slight moment of indecision in the video as I struggle to remember which hand is on top.
Fifth Exercise - Teacup
I'm not sure my explanation will add much to the video itself. You will notice I had a small kerfuffle at the start deciding which hand should be on top. Also, the feet should be slightly wider apart for this exercise than the others, and the way I did it in the video.
This exercise is excellent for shoulder, elbow and wrist mobility. Visualise you are holding a Chinese teacup in the hand and endeavouring to do the entire movement without spilling any tea.
Perform 6 reps of each exercise. If pressed for time, can drop to 3 each of the longer ones. There isn't a lot of point doing more than 6 per session.
There was a closing sequence - 3 lift arms sideways bring down in front, abdominal circles with folded hands on stomach, and some massage exercises as well. I need to revisit this with Stan when I get an opportunity.
UPDATE 28 Mar 2017 - Stan kindly made a video of the closing sequence at my request and uploaded it to Facebook.
Qigong Closing Sequence