Playing with Waves: This is probably my favourite movement in the Shibashi practice, not only because I love waves, but also because it generates so much calm but powerful Qi. If you experience insomnia, this is an excellent movement. It is also helpful for conditions related to the spleen, liver and lungs. Of course, working with the water element, playing with waves is also a good fit for our winter practice as it benefits the kidneys. Since pushing a wave is not possible, this movement helps us to practice wu wei (effortless effort) and cultivates ease and grace while strengthening body and energy.
Spreading your Wings: A beautiful movement, this is soothing for the nervous system and conditions the heart and lungs while balancing Qi flow through their meridians. Since this movement gently opens and loosens tension or holding in the chest, it is helpful in the case of depression and low self-esteem. By embodying a sense of natural avian pride as we open our wings, we open up to self-respect and honour of true nature.
This week we will review movements 8 and 9 of the Shibashi practice (Carrying the Moon and Twisting the Waist/Pushing Hands) then learn movements 10 and 11.
Playing with Clouds: This powerful but soft, beautiful practice relaxes the body’s “fight or flight” (sympathetic nervous system) response and switches us to the “rest, digest, heal” mode (parasympathetic nervous system). As a result, it is a very soothing movement that cultivates an alert, but relaxed state for the body and smooth Qi flow. The movement offers significant benefits to the digestive system and nervous system as well as increasing spiritual energy.
Scooping the Sea: Our image with this movement is that we’re scooping up fresh, positive energy from the sea and using it to cleanse our body and energy. This movement is sometimes called “Touch the Sea, Look at the Sky,” lending the image of gathering Qi from both sources, yin and yang. This form brings benefits to the lungs and large intestine, our “taking in” and “letting go” organs, but supports all of the yin organs, helps strengthen the legs and back, and increases spiritual energy while soothing the nervous system.
Carrying the Moon: This movement is perfect for this week’s new moon and Chinese New Year. It is helpful for conditions related to the spleen and stomach (earth element) and the liver and gallbladder (wood element). It is helpful, therefore, for digestion and weight loss, while boosting stamina. The spiraling of the movement increases Qi flow through the spine as well as the front and back body, which also tones the kidneys, heart and lungs. We use the image of the moon to soften and smooth our movements, while tapping into our ancient desire to understand and connect with the moon’s powerful cycles.
Twisting Waist and Pushing Hands: This movement also strengthens the spleen and stomach, so is good for digestion, and also strengthens the lower back. We will use our “yi” (imagination or intention) to push from an inner strength to cultivate a strong centre and be grounded in the earth element.
In addition to our Shibashi practice, we will move our focus to the bones, which are governed by the kidneys, our winter yin organ. Since we’ve cleared away a lot of held stress over the past three weeks, we will go into a deeper cleansing with the Bone Marrow Cleanse.
Join Sandra to celebrate International Women’s Day. She will guide you through a meditation, breath techniques, Qi self-massage, and standing Qi flow movements with a specific focus for supporting women in their body and life.
Empower three main energy centres
Balance hormones and nourish organs
Practice Qi self-massage and meditation
Increase Qi flow through energy pathways
Open the heart-mind, relax, and renew
Learn effective energy protection techniques
Find your centre.
Saturday, March 9, 2019, 2 – 4 p.m. Cranberry Community Hall (6828 Cranberry St., Powell River)
$40 (price includes an original, printed resource for your home practice)
Registration is required. To register email Sandra.
Rowing the Boat (in the Centre of the Lake): This very easy movement—circling arms back, up, and around to the front again—bring many benefits to the digestive system, opens the shoulders, and strengthen the arms, back, and kidneys. It is also said to increase mental clarity. The image of rowing in the middle of a calm and quiet lake cultivates a gentleness and peacefulness to our endurance. Also, notice that since you’re in the centre of the lake, you have already rowed half of your journey across.
Holding a Ball: This is a fun, light, movement—using the image of lifting a Qi ball across the body—and is said to increase spiritual energy and lift the spirit. Bringing some carefree and playful happiness to this movement, with a smooth and steady breath, increases the power and benefits cultivated. Because we’re twisting from the waist this movement is also very helpful for any conditions or imbalances, physical or energetic, related to the kidneys.
5. Twisting Waist/Rolling Arms: We move from the waist in this form, which stimulates the belt meridian, our only horizontal energy pathway. When we stimulate the belt meridian, which circles around all our other meridians, we stimulate all the meridians. The twisting of the waist and rolling of the arms are wonderful movements for shoulders, elbows, wrists, and low back, and opens the lungs. Energetically we are also bringing Qi flow to the wood element organs—liver and gallbladder, which benefit us in countless ways including eye health and detoxification, and activating the virtues of creativity, kindness and generosity.
If you’ve been to my qigong classes, you know I consider Qi self-massage an important part of qigong.
Just what is Qi self-massage and how does it work? This massage technique, an ancient, traditional Chinese medicine practice, is a powerful, yet safe and simple, way to clear energy blockages from the body’s meridians (energy pathways) and rejuvenate the body’s senses and organs. In short, it’s a way to help release held tension and stagnation so Qi (life-force energy) can flow in the body. When energy flows, health grows.
There are different techniques to stimulate the flow of energy. Stretching opens the meridians. Massaging, most often by using the fingers to rub small circles on acupressure points along the meridians, releases stagnation and stimulates energy flow in the fascia (connective tissue). Tapping knocks out toxins and causes vibrations from the outside in, deep into the bones. Healing sounds cause vibration from the inside of the body toward the outside. We massage and tap along the natural flow (direction) of the meridians—up the kidney, liver, spleen, lungs, pericardium and heart (the yin channels); down the stomach, gall bladder, bladder, small intestine, triple heater and large intestine (the yang channels).
We also work with the organs. In qigong, the organs are associated with both acquired emotions and natural virtues. For example, stuck or stagnant anger or frustration (emotions held in the liver) may cause blockages or depletion in one’s energy and therefore in one’s body and life. By working with the liver meridian—for example, massaging a potent liver point on the top of the foot—the organ and meridian can be stimulated, allowing for Qi to flow, and the liver’s natural virtues of kindness and creativity to expand. Energetically, when a blockage is freed up, so is the organ, the body, and one’s life in this particular instance.
What’s wonderful about Qi self-massage is that you do not need to understand traditional Chinese medicine or be an advanced qigong practitioner to experience significant benefits. This practice is easy and feels good. There is a Chinese proverb, “Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.” Qi self-massage helps us to relax into health, balance and harmony with healing energy flowing to our body, mind and spirit.
If you have not yet registered for the upcoming Qi Self-Massage workshop (Saturday, February 2, 2019, 2-4 pm) and would like to, click here for more details and/or email me to register. No experience is necessary for this workshop.
This week, we will learn and practice
the first three movements from the Taiji Qigong Shibashi forms sequence.
As discussed in an earlier blog, this wonderful 18-form sequence, created by Professor Lin Housheng in 1979, is the most popular routine in China today and practiced around the world by more than 10 million people. The routine, which includes 18 easy movements synchronized with the breath, is truly a peaceful experience and deeply relaxing.
Commencing form: This movement pumps qi from the lower dantian so it can flow through the whole body. It also helps to create grounding, deepen the breath, calm the mind, settle and unblock the liver, and inspire patience and composure. It is very easy to do, but the more one focuses on synchronizing the movement with the breath the more benefits are cultivated.
Opening the heart and lungs: This movement softens and opens the chest, conditioning the heart and lungs, and moves qi through their meridians (in the arms). This movement is very helpful for those with high blood pressure. It encourages smooth blood flow through both the cardiovascular and respiratory systems and is a great benefit to the nervous system as well. You may notice this movement helps cultivate a relaxed and spacious feeling in body and energy.
Dancing with rainbows: In this beautiful movement we imagine rainbows moving (dancing) between our hands (shining from the lao gong points) as we scoop colourful, healing qi into the bai hui (crown) point, benefiting the whole body. Physically, this movement also helps relieve back pain and decrease excess fat from the waist area.
One of the ways qigong is effective for those of us feeling stressed or anxious is through the power of the breath. In fact, the Harvard Medical School names qigong as one of the ways in which to “turn down your response to stress.”1The breath can bring space and softness to tension and held or blocked emotion. The lower belly breathing we do—breathing into the lower dantian or energy field—loosens up tense muscles and signals the brain that we are relaxing, so it can turn off the flight or fight stress response. Long, smooth breaths, in and out of the nose, shift us from the sympathetic nervous system (where we react to stress) to the parasympathetic nervous system (where we can rest and also digest both nutrition and life experience).
Registration is open for the upcoming Qigong for Stress and Anxietyworkshop where we will use the breath during guided meditation, dao yoga body breathing, and also our flowing qigong movements. We’ll also practice self-help sound healing and Qi self-massage to specifically move and address stress and anxiety.
Saturday, January 12, 2019, 2 – 4 pm Cranberry Community Hall (6828 Cranberry St., Powell River) $40 (price includes an original, printed resource for your home practice) Note: If you’ve already taken this workshop and would like to attend again you may do so for half the price.
Classes are scent-free. Please dress in layers. The room will be well heated, but windows will be cracked open for fresh Qi to circulate. For this workshop please bring indoor shoes and a blanket.
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, 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.
I’m looking forward to practicing with you.
If you’ve not yet registered for a winter session of classes, you can see more details on the schedule page and email me to register.