Qigong is an ancient practice of aligning breath, movement and mindfulness. Qigong literally means “life energy cultivation, or work.” What better way to change your energy and cultivate balance than enjoying this beautiful mind and body moving meditation.
Qigong has its roots in Chinese medicine, the martial arts such as Tai Chi, and is even considered a branch of philosophy. Qigong harnesses and balances qi, your life force, and is a wonderful complement to Water Up, Fire Down exercises.
Think of Qigong as the energetic flip side of aerobics! Whereas aerobics is meant to get your heart rate up and go for the burn--calories and muscles--Qigong pumps up the volume on your energy flow and ‘works’ the subtle body for that healthy auric glow.
Qigong typically involves slow, deep and rhythmic breathing along with slow, fluid choreographed movements according to stylized forms, and visualizing Qi circulating through your body. Ancient texts describe 75 Qigong forms and modern day Qigong has 56 forms. There are Qigong forms named after the natural world, including the Five Elements (wood, fire, earth, metal and water); the spiritual realm, Heaven; forms named after emperors and leaders; and even some modern forms inspired by people’s personal healing experiences with Qigong.
From a philosophical viewpoint, Qigong is believed to awaken, cultivate and show you how to utilize your highest human potential.
Qigong is a slow and meditative exercise that puts practically no stress on the joints and is easy on the body. Qigong is ideal for those who are recovering from illness or injury, have restricted movement, or otherwise prefer a slower pace to intense cardio workouts.
Here are six basic Qigong postures for cultivating Qi in your body to prepare for actual Qigong form practice. Use them as warm up before practice, or just to start your day!
(From Dahnhak Kigong by Ilchi Lee)
One Beginning Pose — This posture helps you align your hips and breathing naturally descends to the Dahn-jon (abdomen). Stand with your arms relaxed by your sides. Relax your jaw and touch the tip of your tongue lightly to the roof of your mouth as you breathe. Bend your knees slightly and bring your hands into prayer pose at your throat. Relax your upper body and, using the muscles of your buttocks and legs, gently pull the perineum forward and upward to align the three energy points between your head and sacrum.
One Origin Pose — From One Beginning pose, move your left foot so that your feet are about a shoulder width apart. Keep your knees slightly bent and tuck in your tailbone forward and upward. Hold this post for several minutes.
One Heaven Pose — Also called the ‘horse riding stance,’ this pose requires physical strength to hold the legs in a bent position for a long period, but it can also strengthen the thighs if you work up to it slowly.Standing tall with feet together and hands in prayer position at your throat, place your feet about one and half to two shoulder widths apart, toes turned slightly outward. Bend your knees and lower your torso, keeping your spine perpendicular to the ground. Keep your shoulders relaxed and your breath even. Hold this posture from 30 seconds to two minutes, depending on your strength.
One Mind Pose — From the One Origin posture, move your right (or left) foot to the back, about one shoulder width between your back and front foot. Bend your back leg to 90 degrees, with the ball of your back foot resting on the ground and the heel raised. Raise one arm, elbow bent at the side of your head, with your palm facing outward, in a “block” position. Put your other arm out straight, even with your shoulder, pressing your palm outward. Your torso will be slightly twisted toward your outstretched arm. Hold the posture for several breaths. Repeat on opposite side.
One Humanity Pose — From One Heaven posture, bend your right (or left) knee and straighten your other leg. Block upward with your right (or left) hand and push outward with your other hand at mid-torso. Deepen this pose by lowering your body, bracing your stance with the outer edge of your outstretched foot. Hold for several breaths. Repeat on opposite side.
One Earth Pose — Also called a front stance, in this pose the upper body is kept erect with the center of gravity at your middle Dahn-jon. From the One Heaven posture, turn your upper body to the right (or left). Step one leg in front of you and bend your front knee. Set your left leg back, about two feet wide, and straighten your back leg, keeping your foot flat on the ground. Hold your hands in front of you, in line with your bent front knee, in prayer pose. Hold for several breaths. Repeat on opposite side.