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Building Your Qi

By Jenny Layton

Working with Qi is great for mind and body but JUST CAN’T DO IT? Confession – me too. BUT!! What about Qi gong or Taiji quan (Tai chi)? I’ve been doing these on and off for years, and more regularly lately, and it is about the most JOYFUL form of exercise I’ve ever come across (ok, there are potentially quite a few I haven’t tried, I’ll admit..)

How do they work? You know when you have acupuncture and you arrive a tangled mess and leave so much clearer and calmer? That is because the acupuncture restores correct qi flow. Qi (pronounced chi, don’t ask me who decided a q was a good idea) is our energy, the energy of life, the seasons, everything that moves and flows and changes.

The central idea of acupuncture theory is that problems (physical or emotional, or often both) are due to blocked or incorrect qi flow along the channels, and conversely, “where there is free flow there is no pain” (or tension or disharmony).

Qi gong is qi work – exercises everyone can do to stimulate and regulate their own qi flow. Tai chi is similar, with longer forms of linked movements. Research shows that these ancient arts are not purely relaxing - the nervous system is also toned and invigorated, making you feel vitalised as well as relaxed.

This reflects the historical association of qi gong and tai chi with the ‘harder’ and equally beautiful Chinese martial arts. Different teachers may explain the martial links to a greater or lesser extent, according to their tradition. All styles are beneficial.

The movements in tai chi and qi gong are generally slow and flowing but also strong; they train the body to work as one, and the mind to focus. The internal qi is cultivated, and our innate connection to heaven and earth is aligned and stabilised. Muscles are definitely worked, and strength and flexibility are improved. It is not about being the best, you can work at your own level and progress at your own pace.

Best of all, you gain an understanding and control of your own qi. We are so imposed upon by the competing demands of everyday life, it is no wonder our qi flow is in disarray. Qi gong and tai chi enable us to reclaim and know our own qi, and ride the ups and downs of our own flow a bit easier.

Some local schools are listed here, or look for others - try out what appeals to you. Exercise can be beautiful after all!

Five Elements Martial Arts, Torquay A range of arts including qigong and tai qi, and great online resources / videos for members

Lilac Moon Tai Chi School Tai qi and qi gong

Qi gong classes - Geelong West Neighbourhood House, instructor Paul Burns, Chinese Medicine Practitioner

Enjoy, Jen xx

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