About Sandratonn

Posts by Sandratonn:

WINTER SOLSTICE

When seasons change, our Qi (life force energy) should naturally adjust to match nature’s new frequency. In our modern life this does not always happen smoothly or naturally. Without a smooth transition we are more vulnerable to imbalance and illness. Water is the element that represents and resonates with winter, so we will use it to help during this special and important time of transition—winter solstice.  The yin organ for winter is the kidneys. The healing sound is “Choo,” and the energy colour is a deep blue and/or black.

Winter brings us to the time and place of moving inward. It is a very yin, slow, quiet, still, and meditative time. Just as nature draws inward and slows while growth takes a pause, it is our time for deep resting, regeneration, building and conserving energy, and filling up our reserves. Winter is also a time to tend to and transform fear, stress, and loneliness. I’ve wondered lately if the busy and bright Christmas season, with all of its spending, socializing, drinking, and overeating, has become an acceptable way to escape our intuitive need and natural drive to sit down with the darkness—to embrace it and feel it and learn from it. Spring, our time of growth and busyness will be here soon enough, and we will need the true energy, calm, and wisdom from our winter work to be strong and healthy when life speeds up again and new adventures enter our lives.

The balancing emotions and virtues of the water element, which reside in the spirit of the kidneys, include deep calm and peace, deep wisdom and self-understanding, stillness, determination, will power, and the ability to go with the flow—like water—and adapt to the constant and inevitable changes in our lives. With qigong we can gently work to transform fear and stress.

The kidney meridians (energy pathways) have a connection to not only all the fluid and bones in the body, but also to the limbic system in the brain, which decides whether to panic or relax in any given situation or life experience. Qigong can, therefore, strongly influence body-mind connection.

Blocks, stagnation, imbalance, deficiency or excess in the kidney energy, may show up as brittle bones, low back pain, knee pain, loss of will or personal power, lack of sex drive, and urinary or reproductive issues. The kidneys is also where held or frozen shock or trauma may cause imbalance. An imbalanced lifestyle, such as overworking and anything else that drains life force, will deplete the precious store of Jing (original essence) in the kidneys, which means we will have to cultivate even more Qi from other sources to recharge and bring balance to live a healthy life into old age.

Flowing and balanced kidney Qi helps us to stand in our power and have healthy ambition, and increases our ability to adapt to situations including stress. Kidney Qi can also clear confusing thoughts, improve memory, and give us the energy to pull ourselves out of heaviness. With strong kidney Qi we produce the hormones necessary to transition through life’s stresses and changes and to age and live with grace.

Through the inner smile meditation to the heart and kidneys, Qi self-massage to stimulate the kidney meridian and acupressure points, and simple yet powerful energy work through qigong flow, we will invite winter and the deeply restorative, strengthening, and peaceful Qi it cultivates.

For details about the upcoming Winter Solstice qigong class click here.

I’m looking forward to practicing with you.

Namaste,

Sandra

© Sandra Tonn

FIVE ELEMENTS

In this week’s qigong class, the last in our six-week series, we will practice with all of the elements together. Through the past five weeks we’ve moved through the elements in the order of what’s know as the control cycle, but this week we will move in tune with the seasons, using the cycle of creation.

There are many ways to move through the inner smile meditation. I always like to begin in the heart, since it is our center and the hub of the other organs and elements. We will also send smiling energy through the digestive and nervous systems.

This week we bring all of the six healing sounds together—the five organs plus the triple warmer. Doing all of the six healing sounds together powerful. When doing all the sounds together we always start with the lungs (metal element) because they are the flywheels for qi. Doing the six sounds before bed is helpful to purge the day and clear the mind and body for a deep, restful sleep. The sounds are also helpful, any time of day, for transforming depression, anxiety, and anger. In his book, The Six Healing Sounds: Taoist techniques for balancing chi (Destiny Books, 2009), Grand Master Mantak Chia says, “When the organ sounds are pronounced, the gas trapped in the organs is released and exchanged. The fresh energy releases or transforms negative emotions into more positive or life-giving energy.”

We’ve been practicing one of the Daoist Five Yin tonifying exercises each week. Now we’ll put them all together and we’ll also add the very simple, but extremely effective, Daoist Five Yang tonifying exercise, which is an excellent practice for filling the lower dantian with Qi, and also for firing up digestive power.

We will revisit some favourite qigong movements from the past five classes, such as Trembling Horse, Dragon Awakens its Spine, Swimming Dragon, and Crane Walking.

I’m amazed at how much of a foundation we’ve created, and how much Qi we’ve cultivated, in this six-week series with the elements—and all the organs, meridians, and emotions that go with them—as our guides. I am so inspired to hear from many of you how the practice is positively affecting you and your life, and I am, as always, so grateful for the power and practice of qigong.

I’m looking forward to practicing with you.

Namaste,
Sandra

© Sandra Tonn

WATER

This week’s qigong class focuses on the element water and its corresponding organs, the kidneys (yin organ), and the bladder (yang organ). The associated sense organ is the ears (hearing). The healing sound is “Choo,” and the energy colour is a deep blue and/or black. The season of water and kidneys is winter.

Water itself is formless and may be still, calm, and strong, just as the ocean’s tide may form a beach or sculpt stone. Just as a stream may freeze and thaw again.  The great Chinese sage Lao Tzu said, “Nothing in the world is more flexible and yielding than water.”

Just as a waterfall is uplifting to the spirit, the ocean is expansive and energizing, and a calm lake is calming and meditative, the element water greatly influences our physical and energy bodies.

Physically, the kidneys govern the skeleton, brain, and all the body’s fluids, including water, bone marrow, cerebrospinal fluid, lymph, and joint lubrication, and the kidneys filter 15 gallons of blood every hour. They also control hormones, which are extremely important to the health and function of the body, especially as we age. Work with kidney energy (and that of the liver) is effective for women in the pre-menopause, menopause, and post-menopause transitions.

Both the kidney and bladder meridians (energy pathways) have a connection to the limbic system in the brain, which decides whether to panic or relax in any given situation or life experience. Qigong—breath work, visualization, and meditative movement—can, therefore, strongly influence body-mind connection.

Energetically, the kidneys are our rechargeable batteries and the home of our original qi (life force) or essence, known as Jing. Since this is the storehouse for our vitality, the kidney energy needs to remain strong and in balance for the rest of the body to function well.

The acquired emotions associated with the kidneys include fear, stress, and loneliness. This is also where held or frozen shock or trauma may cause imbalance. Blocks or deficiencies may also show up as brittle bones, low back pain, knee pain, loss of will or personal power, lack of sex drive, and urinary or reproductive issues. An imbalanced lifestyle, such as overworking and anything else that drains life force, will deplete the kidneys precious store of jing, which means we will have to cultivate even more qi from other sources to recharge and bring balance, and to live a healthy life into old age. To build kidney qi we need to find the balance between doing and being.

The balancing and natural virtues of the kidneys include wisdom, self-understanding, will power, determination, calm, peace, and gentleness. Working with kidney energy can be deeply restorative, strengthening, and very peaceful all at once.

Flowing and balanced water/kidney Qi helps us to stand in our power and have healthy ambition, increases our ability to adapt to situations including stress, clear confusing thoughts, improve memory, and give us the energy to pull ourselves out of heaviness. With strong kidney Qi we produce the hormones necessary to transition through life’s changes and to age and live with grace.

This week we will use the inner smile meditation and kidney healing sound to practice the alchemy of transforming held or stuck fear and stress, inviting our natural virtues of wisdom, strength, and calm to expand. Our Qi self-massage will focus on stimulating the kidney meridian and the longest meridian in the body, the bladder meridian.

We will practice Ocean Breathing, the Daoist Five tonifying movement for the Kidney, and we’ll do one of my favourite qigong movements, Turtle Drinks from Deep Pools.

I’m looking forward to practicing with you.

Namaste,
Sandra

© Sandra Tonn

Winter Solstice qigong class

Registration is now open for the upcoming, one-time, Winter Solstice qigong class. Join Sandra for this special qigong class to welcome and breathe in winter’s energy–rejuvenation, rest, wisdom, and deep, deep peace.

Choose a morning or afternoon class:

  • Friday, December 22, 2017 from 10-11:30 am
  • Friday, December 22, 2017 from 2-3:30 pm
    Cranberry Community Hall (6828 Cranberry St., Powell River)

Each class above is $16.  Class size will be restricted. To register email Sandra.

EARTH

This week’s qigong class focusses on the element earth and its corresponding organs, the spleen (yin organ), and the stomach (yang organ). The corresponding sense organ is the mouth (taste). The healing sound is “Whoo” and the energy colour is yellow. The season of earth and spleen is late summer, or is sometimes thought of as the element at the center of all the other elements and their seasons, where life arises.

Our source of nourishment, grounding, gravity, and stability, earth is our mother and she is our home.

Physically, the spleen, which is about the same size as the heart and sits just behind the stomach on the left side of the body, is an important organ of digestion. It governs our food-qi by extracting and converting the pure essence of our food and liquid. It is also the site where white blood cells work to prevent infection, where lymphocytes are produced to destroy and recycle old red blood cells, and where blood is stored for emergencies.

Energetically, the earth provides us with a center, enabling us to balance our lives and live with harmony. Emotionally, earth element helps us to digest, or absorb, our life experiences, and is associated with growing, nourishing, producing (as in a late summer harvest), and change.

The acquired emotions or states of the spleen may include worry, anxiety, nervousness, overthinking, obsession, and self-worth issues. The balancing and natural virtues of the spleen include trust, openness, resolution, centeredness, balance, and equanimity.

Imbalance, blocks, excess or deficiency in the earth energy may show up as mouth sores, digestive ailments, fatigue, weight challenges, allergies, chronic immune disorders, candidiasis, disrupted cycles, and addiction. The classic symptom of earth element imbalance is seen in the person who has difficulty receiving love and support, but is very giving it to others.

As always, the other elements (and organs) play a role in the health of the spleen and balance of earth element. Wood (liver) regulates earth (spleen), just as tree roots hold soil. Also, earth (spleen) generates metal (lungs). Compassion and kindness (liver) can help to regulate worry and imbalance (spleen). The ability to trust, be open and take in nourishment (spleen) can result in the production of integrity and strength (metal).

Flowing and balanced spleen Qi helps us to find our balance, our center, to take in life and to trust in the divine unfolding of our journey.

This week we will use the inner smile meditation and spleen healing sound to practice the alchemy of transforming held or stuck worry and anxiety, inviting our natural virtues of trust and openness to expand. Our Qi self-massage will focus on stimulating the spleen and stomach meridians.

We will practice Earth Qigong, Golden Phoenix, and the Daoist Five tonifying movement for the Spleen, and more.

I’m looking forward to practicing with you.

Namaste,
Sandra

© Sandra Tonn

Will I be able to practice qigong on my own at home?

A very good question from a student recently. It is always, absolutely my wish and intention that anything I share and teach—be it memoir writing, yoga, meditation, or qigong—be brought into one’s personal life outside the class in some way, big or small.

The current qigong series is a whirlwind introduction to qigong to help people get a feel for qigong—literally. Qigong is not something to simply learn by memory, like a dance step, or to know intellectually. You could read ten books about qigong or watch dozens of videos and still not be actually doing or benefiting from qigong. It is something that is experienced, felt and practiced over time. It is the subtle, yet powerful, change in perception and relationship with one’s organs, body, breath, energy, mind, earth, universe, and nature. It is true alchemy and transformation.

My approach to teaching qigong is to offer a simple, fun, and supported means of cultivating change. I like to make things simple, enjoyable and accessible for people. With a foundation, without rushing to a destination, we can build and know our practice in an authentic way, through experience. The current series was not intended to be mastered, memorized or understood on all levels, but rather to begin the exciting practice of cultivating energy and all the benefits of the practice over time. That said, as many of you know, benefits happen immediately—calmer mind and body, better sleep, more energy, and so on.

Further practice, especially when we slow down in the upcoming sessions and spend eight weeks with each element and organ, will build our practice. By the end of the Winter Qigong series, for example, you will know, with full confidence, how and why to do the Bone Marrow Cleansing movements, and how and why to do Kidney Breathing and Packing. Workshops will allow us to go even deeper and give you the details of the practice along with written resources to bring home for self practice.

For now, you do know enough already to practice at home if you choose. You can fashion an inner smile meditation, do whatever Qi self-massage you like or remember, and move energy with some of the standing qigong we do each week, such as swinging and hitting, shaking the body, showering Qi, and moving your Qi ball. Qigong need not be a set or strict routine. It is working with your posture, breath and focus to cultivate flowing, healthy energy. Often, I will simply stop in the middle of my day and stand in qigong stance or do a flowing movement for just one minute.

For those who are practicing with me regularly and do want to practice more seriously at home, I will be offering a workshop on how to create a home practice.

If you don’t choose to practice on your own at home, that’s perfectly fine, too! Showing up to class, practicing with your qigong community and working with your energy will cultivate change and still influence the rest of your life—your breath, body and awareness—even without extra formal practice.

Whatever you do, don’t forget the power of smiling while you do it.  😊

Namaste,
Sandra

© Sandra Tonn

WOOD

This week’s qigong class focuses on the element wood and its corresponding organs, the liver (yin organ), and the gallbladder (yang organ). The corresponding sense organ is the eyes (sight). The healing sound is “Shhh” and the energy colour is the fresh, new green of spring. The season of wood and liver is spring, with its energy of renewal, growth and fresh, new life.

In the Daoist philosophy the liver is known as the “tree of life.” The tree symbolized the wood element with its roots reaching deep into the earth and its branches outstretched toward the sun. A tree’s stability and flexibility are also characteristics of the liver. A tree is rooted, but can bend in the wind. The liver meridians maintain the health of the tendons, ligaments, muscles, and connective tissue, including the fascia, helping to keep us resilient and flexible.

Physically, just as trees emit cleansing oxygen, the liver is a major detoxifying organ, and controls the circulation and storage of blood. Energetically, the liver is in charge of how qi flows in the whole body. Spiritually, the liver is said to hold the blueprint of the soul’s purpose and is related to inner spiritual sight.

The acquired emotions or states of the liver may include anger, frustration, irritability, envy, and resentment. The balancing and natural virtues of the liver include generosity, kindness, creativity, adaptability, and compassion.

Blocks or imbalance in the wood element are often related to headaches, allergies, menstrual irregularities, digestive ailments, high blood pressure, arthritis, muscle weakness or stiffness, uneven emotions, fatigue, resistance, and vision problems.

Since wood (liver) feeds fire (heart), liver health is directly related to heart health. The liver’s function is to cool (soothe) the heart, but if there is not enough blood and energy for the liver to do its job, the heart suffers with excess heat resulting in hot emotion and anxiety.

Because the liver is like a filter, when a woman experiences hormonal shifts and over-activity of the limbic system (stress and emotion), this affects an overloaded liver and manifests as irritability, anger, or even rage. Anger can be a helpful emotion, but not if one is stuck in an excess of it.

Flowing and balanced liver Qi helps us to make sound decisions, put our plans into action without procrastination, and be flexible and able to adapt and change. We have a vision and are able to walk our unique path without blindly following what others think is our best course. We are able to connect with others and be compassionate, creative, and kind to ourselves and to others.

This week we will use the inner smile meditation and liver healing sound to practice the alchemy of transforming held or stuck anger or frustration, inviting our natural virtues to expand. Our Qi self-massage will focus on stimulating the liver and gallbladder meridians, and our stretching, breath work and qigong flows will move energy and flood the physical and energetic bodies with fresh Qi.

We will practice Dragon Awakens its Spine, Tree Stance, the Daoist Five tonifying movements for the Liver and Lungs, and more.

I’m looking forward to practicing with you.

Namaste,
Sandra

© Sandra Tonn

METAL

This week’s qigong class focusses on the element of metal and its corresponding organs, the lungs (yin organ), and the large intestine (yang organ). The corresponding body part is the nose (smell) and also the skin. The healing sound is “Sss” and the energy colour is a pure, brilliant white. The season of metal and lungs is fall, which we are experiencing, with all this lovely dry weather, sun and colour, right now.

The lungs, like metal, offer strength, structure, and nourishment. This element, as with both the lungs and large intestine (and nose and skin), govern the ability to take in and let go—of oxygen, nutrition, waste, and energy.

The acquired emotions or states of the lungs may include grief, sadness, sorrow, depression, shame, guilt, and despair, as well as anxiety, which may manifest in many of the organ/energy centers. The balancing and natural virtues of the lungs include integrity, resiliency, courage, strength, honesty, reverence, justice, righteousness, and detachment.

Blocks or imbalance in the metal element, are often related to constipation, diarrhea, headache, lung disorders (such as asthma), sinus congestion, allergies, fatigue, and loss of enthusiasm for life. Unresolved grief, especially from childhood, is often at the core of many lung and colon ailments. We get emotionally stopped up and instead of taking in and letting out, we hold.

When open balanced, metal Qi is experienced as the ability to encounter difficulty with tenacity, a willingness to endure, confidence, and a willingness to release physical and emotional wastes, including old beliefs, habits and behaviours, as well as unhealthy relationships and work. The ability to experience our moments as precious and be present in them, whether they are happy or sad, is the power of lung Qi.

This week we will use the inner smile meditation and lung healing sound to practice the alchemy of transforming held or stuck energy. Our Qi self-massage will focus on stimulating the lung and small intestine meridians to further allow for energetic balance and flow. Our stretching, posture, breath work, and flowing qigong movements will connect us with our lungs, open, purge, tone, and bring loads of fresh and supportive Qi into the physical and energy bodies. The heart (fire element) is a helper to the lungs. Just as fire can melt metal, love from the heart can help to melt grief and sadness in the lungs.

We will practice Ocean Breathing, Tiger Claws, the Daoist Five Tonification for Heart and Lungs, and more.

I’m looking forward to practicing with you.

Namaste,
Sandra

© Sandra Tonn

FIRE

This week’s qigong class focuses on the element of fire and its corresponding organs, the heart (yin organ), and the small intestine (yang organ). The corresponding body part is the tongue (speech). The healing sound is “Haaa” and the energy colour is red (or pink). Fire—the heart—is our radiant light, like the sun that sustains life on earth. This warm, spark of life is what is traditionally called the “Palace of the Spirit.”

The heart center is the location of the middle dantian, where energy is both stored and generated. The heart is traditionally thought to be the home of the soul or spirit—the heart-mind. We now know, through scientific research, just how true this ancient idea of “heart-mind” is since there is more electromagnetic energy and neurons in the heart than in the brain.

The acquired emotions or states of the heart may include impatience, hastiness, sorrow, arrogance, cruelty and hate. The balancing and natural virtues of the heart include joy, passion, sincerity, honour, love, forgiveness, healthy boundaries, order, and creativity. A closed or blocked heart, or imbalance in the fire element, are often related cold hands and feet, hot flashes, hard arteries, high blood pressure, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, and anxiety. Digestive ailments, such as heartburn, diarrhea and constipation may be related to excess heat caused by an imbalance in the fire element.

When open and in balance, heart Qi is experienced as innate joy, nourishment and the feeling of warmth, the ability to build healthy relationships, a willingness to forgive, the ability to follow one’s passion and complete projects, and a feeling of interconnection with nature and life.

One of the easiest and best things for the heart is to laugh, which vibrates the energy of joy and lightness through the body, uplifting the spirit. We will also work with the element water (kidney) to help balance fire.

This week we will use the inner smile meditation and heart healing sound to practice the alchemy of transforming held or stuck energy into flowing and expanding virtues. Emotions are not bad and our goal isn’t to “get rid of” them. Working with the heart, pericardium, triple heater and small intestine meridians will further allow for energetic balance and flow. Our stretching, posture, breath work, and flowing qigong movements will connect us with our heart center as well as ever nourishing earth and universe energy.

Slow, soothing movements and deep breathing calm and cool the heart. We will practice Swimming Dragon, Great Heart Breathing, Crane Walking, Showering Qi, the Five Elements Tonifying for Heart and Kidney, and more.

I’m looking forward to practicing with you.

Namaste,
Sandra

© Sandra Tonn

 

Qigong classes start next week!

With the five elements as your guide, discover the fire, breath, creativity, ground, and peace in you. Cultivate energy, harmony, and health with the gentle, yet powerful practice of qigong.

The Five Elements Qigong series runs for six weeks beginning the week of October 23rd and will introduce you to all of the elements, including their corresponding organs, energy pathways, emotions, and virtues. The Tuesday morning class is full, but there is still space in the Tuesday early evening class (5:30-6:45 pm), and a just few spots left in the Friday morning class (10-11:15 am). You can save a drop-in spot by emailing me.