It works for me! It’s the right energy work for me. It compliments my acupuncture. I feel better when I practice regularly. I love the people I know through qigong. I love Master Li.
I started Sheng Zhen Qigong when my acupuncturist recommended qigong and a local teacher, Kimberly, taught Sheng Zhen Gong. Kimberly was great! The gentle movements of the Sheng Zhen form were pretty and felt pleasing. The other students seemed to be having fun too. The room was filled with really good feelings. It was apparent that everyone had different abilities, yet the movements seemed right for each one of us. The climate in the room was supportive, not competitive at all.
When I started Sheng Zhen Gong my mood was a little anxious and sad. Tai chi (a martial arts form of qigong) which I had practiced for many years before was great for my balance when I practiced. And had helped a bit with anxiety. It still is a quick fix when my balance gets a little off, but that is rare now. What the qigong did for my moods was amazing. The longer I took the class and practiced the better I felt. In the years that I have practiced and studied I have also had some pain problems and also vertigo. Qigong helps with both of those problems. It also keeps me flexible and strong.
I continue to train annually with Master Li Junfeng. After each 10 day training I feel so clear and relaxed, ready to tackle any challenge.
The spiritual benefits are for another blog post. But the feelings of openheartedness that result from this practice are clearly connected to being relaxed and happy.
Check the Classes page for my schedule. Or you can contact me and we can get together anytime. Introductory classes are always free. I would love a group class. If you have space, I have time.
We are told to stand up straight put our shoulders back and pull in our tummies. Our appearance is so important. The shoulders back and relaxed is actually a healthy way to stand for our breathing if we don’t over do it and push past what is comfortable. To find that sweet spot of comfort and good posture I usually push until it is a little uncomfortable and then release a little. Relaxing the shoulders is important too. Now the chest is open and the lungs can fill comfortably.
But that “pull in the tummy” part is not the best for good full breaths. Singers know this and sing from their bellies. But I’m not talking about holding that note forever, so just a gentle rise and fall of the belly is the goal. If you can, take a few minutes to watch a baby breathe. If not try to watch a cat or dog. Watch the belly rise and fall. We should still breathe like babies do.
I find lying on the floor with your hands gently on the belly is the best way to practice belly breathing. A bed or couch will do though. With your hands on your belly you can close your eyes and feel the rise and fall. The idea is to just let the belly fill and then the chest. If you are lying down you are less likely to contort the body to make this happen. Then let the air out gently and slowly but naturally. I practiced on the floor many times before it felt natural. This is the best way to breathe all the time but is important for any energy work like qigong, yoga and tai chi or for stretching, exercise and meditation.
It is so relaxing and healthy getting all that oxygen.
Here is a link to some fun breathing exercises from Dr Weil. I have used the relaxing breath technique before but have gotten out of the habit. I’m going to start again. I forgot how effective it is.
“Sometimes people get the mistaken notion that spirituality is a separate department of life, the penthouse of existence. But rightly understood, it is a vital awareness that pervades all realms of our being.”
~ David Steindl-Rast ~
Most of us live in the real world. We are not monks, priests or nuns living cloistered or separated lives. We have family, jobs, friends and stuff to get done. Spirituality should be reflected in and reflective of our daily lives. Otherwise what’s the point.
I think spirituality without reality has great potential, at least for me, to become an escape mechanism making it actually more difficult to live in my life. Escape and denial have occasional value but in my experience present a whole host of other problems.
One of the ways I integrate spirituality in my life is through gratitude. I use a stop and smell the roses approach. What can I appreciate and show thanks for? It makes me more mindful as I go about my day looking at things from the point of view what to be grateful for. Living on Maui gives a lot of opportunity for gratefulness. It is especially easy for me to be grateful now with the birth last month of my granddaughter.
I have friends who have kept gratitude journals. Usually at the end of the day they write down what they have to be thankful for. Some days it is just a beautiful flower they passed on a walk.
Another way I integrate spiritually in my daily life is to try and do something nice for someone or something. Maybe it’s remote like picking up some trash on the beach or more direct like calling a friend who has been a little down. Connecting is part of my spirituality practice.
Sheng Zhen Qigong is a large part of my spiritual practice too, but more about that in another post.
Tell me what you do to in your practical spirituality.
What to bring: No mats, no props, just you and your intention. A cheerful spirit is helpful but not required.
I usually start classes with some of what I call body awareness moves, like swinging your arms, light stretching. This is so we can all become aware of where our body is today, what it needs and what to avoid or do more gently. A little light chatter usually accompanies this especially in evening classes as we wind down from the day.
The qigong itself can be done to any fitness level. Even imaging a movement is beneficial if you can’t physically make that movement today (or ever). There are seated forms and standing forms. Standing forms can be modified for sitting.
There is an opening movement that sets the tone to begin. This is serious but joyous stuff so a smile is encouraged. I like to teach Heaven and Nature Gong or Awakening the Soul to beginners. We end the class with the same movements as we use to open our practice, in thankfulness for the opportunity to practice and be with others.
If you click on the names of the forms above you can see Master Li (my teacher) demonstrate the forms. Only the first 5 movements of Heaven and Nature are shown in this video.