week 2 of video series: METAL

Lao Tzu said, “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”

When we work with the metal element we are working with letting go and letting come. With breath and inspiration as well as letting go (literally releasing and not holding) of what is no longer needed or is naturally finished. Our ability to take in and let go affects our use and experience of oxygen, nutrition, waste, and energy. We can’t, for example, take in a new breath until we let the last one go. The same holds true for many of our emotions and life experiences.

Working with metal means working with the 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, shiny, brilliant white.

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 and 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 self-acupressure 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.

We will practice Kidney Breathing, Legs Up the Wall, Ocean Breathing, Tiger Claws, the Daoist Five Tonification for Lungs, and more.

I’m looking forward to practicing with you.

Namaste,
Sandra

© Sandra Tonn

week 1 of the Qigong video link series is EARTH

This week’s qigong class focuses 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. Earth is the element at the center of all the other elements and their seasons, where life originally 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.

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 good at 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 self-acupressure will focus on the spleen and stomach meridians.

We will practice Earth Qigong, and the Daoist Five tonifying movement for the Spleen, as well as Shibashi movements.

I’m looking forward to practicing with you.

Namaste,
Sandra

© Sandra Tonn

Working with the Wood Element

Spring is the first season in the cycle of nature and wood is a good representation of this beginning. This season has the energy, the Qi or life force, of wood—like a tree rooting into the earth at the same time it reaches for the sky. A lovely balance, like the balance of yin and yang energies in spring.

In the five elements theory, wood is said to regulate our vision, both physically and spiritually, as well as our ability to adapt to the changes and possible obstacles that this fresh new season brings. If the energy we need to act on our vision and adapt to changes is blocked or stagnant, we may instead experience the energy of anger and frustration.

I know quite a few people who quit their practice in the spring and summer because they feel too busy and many feel they need to stop because they have company coming and going. One person—instead of committing to the practice that keeps her grounded and healthy and honours her deepest calling for creativity and balance—endures panic attacks and visitors and waits for the rains of the fall and winter to then recover before beginning the cycle all over again.

Instead of feeling the pressures of mainstream society’s spring season—more commitments, company coming, and gardening to catch up on—spring can be a time to match nature and be inspired, energized, and supported by the balanced energies of wood.

Working with the liver and its meridians—the wood element’s yin organ—can help to get our wood Qi flowing. When we have strong wood energy we can clearly see our opportunities for new growth, new beginnings, fresh and new ways of being. With the help of the wood element’s yang organ—the gallbladder—we can be decisive about our goals and act on them with calm confidence and wu wei, effortless effort.

Root down into what nourishes and supports you and reach for the sky to grow and blossom naturally in whatever way feels absolutely perfect for you on this natural and incredible journey. When life seems to get busy, it is even more important to root down and reach up—to move and breathe with the natural rhythm of your deepest self.

Lao Tzu said, “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”

Namaste,
Sandra

© Sandra Tonn

Pal Dan Gum #7 and #8

#7 – Bending Over and Stretching Back

An excellent movement for preventing illness, this movement stimulates the kidney energy and increases vital energy. It is also very helpful in increasing flexibility of the waist and legs while stimulating all of the meridians that run through the legs—kidney, liver, spleen, stomach, gallbladder, and bladder.

#8 – Standing on Toes

The final Pal Dan Gum movement is very grounding and improves balance through work with the toes and calves, and also stimulates the stomach (Earth element) and the kidneys (nourishment). It stimulates the flow of qi through the central channel and is also said to increase the body’s harmony with nature and the cosmos.

Namaste,
Sandra

© Sandra Tonn

 

Pal Dan Gum #5 and #6

#5 – Swaying the Trunk and Swinging the Tail

While a balanced amount of fire element in the heart is healthy, excess fire as a result of too much wood (the liver element and emotions of anger and frustration) cause too much heart fire. This movement helps to release excess fire from the heart meridian. It also relaxes the kidneys (water element), which helps the overall balance and harmony.

#6 – Punching with Angry Eyes

This active movement increases strength and vitality of both the physical and energetic bodies and is excellent for releasing blocked qi in the shoulders, arms, jaw, and eyes. This movement also brings benefits to the heart and circulation, as well as the central nervous system.

Namaste,
Sandra

© Sandra Tonn

Pal Dan Gum #3 and #4

#3 – Separating Heaven and Earth

Doing this movement is powerful for stimulating and harmonizing the spleen and stomach meridians. Stretching up and down in opposite directions clears the digestive system by stretching the large and small intestine meridians that run along the arms. It also opens the lower and middle (lower belly and heart center) dantians and is helpful in ensuring healthy hands and wrists. Embody the monkey by pushing qi through long, arms.

#4 – Wise Owl Looks Back

This movement relieves fatigue and strengthens energy in the five yin organs—lungs, kidneys, liver, heart, and spleen. With eyes open and looking back from side to side, the eyes are strengthened as well, which positively affects the liver meridian.  Turning the head also gently stretches the neck to move stagnation in the cervical vertebrae and stimulate circulation to the head. This is a good movement to increase physical balance, relieve dizziness and tonify the central nervous system. The kidneys also get a massage through this movement. Embody the wise owl, with only your head moving, and ability to see into the darkness of yin.

Namaste,
Sandra

© Sandra Tonn

Pal Dan Gum #1 and #2

#1 – Holding up the Heavens

This movement energizes and improves circulation through all of the organs by stimulating the triple warmer energy pathway. It also releases toxicity from the body and helps to regulate body temperature. Holding up the Heavens also benefits the pericardium meridian flow as well as the heart and lung organs. As the lower half of the body is very grounded on the Earth, as the heaviness of a bear sinking down, while the upper body is lifted up. This opposite direction helps the flow of qi move more smoothly between the upper and lower parts of the body and also helps to improve physical and energetic balance.

 

 

#2 – Drawing the Bow

With the focus, clarity, and precision of the metal element energy, Drawing the Bow benefits the lungs by increasing lung capacity. This movement also strengthens the tendons and muscles of shoulders and tonifies the kidneys. A balanced qi flow throughout the body will also result from this practice.

 

 

See you next week for more winter practice and Pal Dan Gum #3 and #4.

 

Namaste,
Sandra

© Sandra Tonn

Pal Dan Gum (8 Silken Movements)

Ancient silk drawings show qigong practitioners moving through the exercises of Pal Dan Gum or the 8 Silken Movements (also known as “Ba Duan Jing”). The practice has been used in China and Korea for many thousands of years to develop and maintain radiant health, inside and out, by improving Qi (energy) flow through the body’s energy pathways. Physically, the practice stretches the tendons, making them as supple and resilient as silk in order to enjoy good posture, flexibility, and movement and also prevent injuries. Energetically, the movements activate and balance all of the 12 organ meridians and 8 extraordinary channels, which is why it is considered a complete qigong practice, even though it does not take long to do.

When done regularly, Pal Dan Gum is a very safe but extremely powerful practice for positively affecting the entire body. With just ten minutes a day, one may experience a decrease in symptoms, refreshment and rejuvenation, relaxation, and increase in energy and health.

Some of the many benefits that have been attributed to a regular Pal Dan Gum practice include:

  • increased and improved flow of life force energy in the body
  • improved physical and energetic balance and flexibility
  • healthy organs, including heart and lungs
  • improved digestion
  • increased flexibility of the spine, shoulders, and hips
  • increased brain health
  • improved clarity of thought
  • deeper and easier breathing
  • increased blood and energy circulation, immunity, and cardiovascular health
  • emotional clearing and balance
  • improved awareness and focus
  • promotion of longevity and radiant health
  • increase creativity and optimism
  • relaxation

All of the movements, together, offer amazing overall benefits and health.

I look forward to sharing this practice with you.

Namaste,
Sandra

© Sandra Tonn

Winter Dao Yoga series

Following nature’s lead, this series of Dao yoga classes will embrace the power and depth of stillness and quiet. Now is the time to recharge and rejuvenate our physical and energy bodies. The yin organs that resonates with this cool, dark season are the kidneys—our energy batteries and the home of our original Qi (life force energy).

Dao yogic movements and postures include a focus on the body’s energy pathways (meridians), as well as healing sounds, breathwork, and Qi Self-massage (acupressure points). We rest in the postures and movements (all on the mat, no standing) to allow for a deep release—safe and relaxing opening of the body’s held energies, tension, and connective tissues—so that healing and balancing Qi can flow.

The kidney meridians regulate all of the fluid in the body, including water, the blood, hormones, bone marrow and brain, cerebrospinal fluid, lymph, and joint lubrication. Water, the element that resonates with winter and the kidneys, will help inspire us to go with the flow for our winter practice.

Students in past Dao yoga classes have commented on the deep relaxation and calm they feel during and after the class and how their sleep has improved. It is a wonderful way to slow down, calm the nervous system, and bring balance to a busy and/or stressful lifestyle.

See the winter qigong class schedule and email me to register or drop in.

I’m looking forward to practicing with you.

Namaste,
Sandra

© Sandra Tonn

 

Winter Qigong series

When seasons change, our Qi (life force energy) should automatically, according to natural law, 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 in this class 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, inviting in resolution, trust, calm, and peace.

The winter practices I’ve prepared will focus on renewing and building up of energy reserves by nourishing the kidneys, and gently but powerfully transforming the stress and fear that cause blocks and stagnation in the flow of our human electrical energy system. We will also and cultivating the balancing emotions and energies of the water element, which reside in the spirit of the kidneys, including deep calm and peace, true wisdom and self-understanding, stillness, determination, will power, trust, and the ability to go with the flow—like water—to adapt to the constant and inevitable changes in our lives.

Join me to practice kidney breathing, bone marrow cleansing, turtle drinks from deep pools, and much more. We will also practice the amazingly beneficial Pal Dan Gum (8 silken) movements.

See the winter qigong class schedule and email me to register or drop in.

Namaste,
Sandra

© Sandra Tonn