Summer Qigong

Fire is the element of summer’s yin organ—the heart. When we work with the heart (our middle dantian/energy centre) we are in the domain of the “palace of the spirit,” where our seat of consciousness sits. With a heart-centred practice we can release and enhance the flow of joy, passion, sincerity, love, honour, and happiness.

Heart Qi is the most powerful energy we have as humans. Blocks, imbalance, excess, or deficiency in energy here may result in experiences of sadness, hastiness, or hatred, and manifest in the form of heart disease, hot flashes, anxiety, or depression.

By opening, purging, strengthening, and cultivating Qi we can significantly impact the health, balance, and harmony of our heart energy, entire body, and life.

We will practice with the animals of the heart—the crane and work with cooling and calming cloud movements. We’ll move Qi along not only the heart meridian (energy pathway), but also the triple heater, pericardium, and small intestine (the yang organ for summer) meridians.

Come out to Lindsay Park to practice under the sky and beside the trees and open your heart to all the healing and soothing life force energy available to you.

To see the summer qigong drop-in class schedule, click here.

I look forward to practicing with you.

Namaste,
Sandra

© Sandra Tonn

week 5 of video series: 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” where our “Shen” (our spirit) resides. The heart center is also the location of the middle dantian. 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.

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,” but working with the heart, pericardium, triple heater and small intestine meridians will allow for energetic balance and flow and the expansion of our fire—our spirit and unique expression of life force.

I’m looking forward to practicing with you.

Namaste,
Sandra

© Sandra Tonn

week 4 of video series: WOOD

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 relate to the virtue of kindness and the energy of creativity, 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 opportunities for new growth and creativity is blocked or stagnant, we may instead experience the energy of anger and frustration.

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 crazy, it is even more important to commit to your practice—to move and breathe with the natural rhythm of your deepest self.

Namaste,
Sandra

© Sandra Tonn

week 3 of video series: WATER

Water itself is formless and may be still, calm, soft, and strong. The ocean’s tide may form a beach or sculpt stone. A stream may freeze and thaw again. A gentle rain may cleanse and a warm shower clean. The great Chinese sage Lao Tzu said, “Nothing in the world is more flexible and yielding than water.” We can learn a lot by embodying and mirroring the water element, and recognizing that we are mostly water.

The water element’s corresponding organs are the kidneys (yin organ), and the bladder (yang organ), the healing sound is “Choo,” and the energy colour is a deep blue and/or black. Physically, the kidneys govern the skeleton, brain, and all the body’s fluids, including water, bone marrow, cerebro-spinal 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 self-acupressure 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 the deeply nourishing and restorative Bone Marrow Cleansing.

I’m looking forward to practicing with you.

Namaste,
Sandra

© Sandra Tonn

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