Uncategorized

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 Solstice Qigong class (Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019)

Lao Tzu said, “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them—that only creates sorrow. Let things flow naturally in whatever way they like.”

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. Without a natural transition we are more vulnerable to imbalance and illness. Dedicating some time to support this transition, by spending time in nature and gathering for our qigong practice, we can help ourselves to mirror nature and go with the flow of life and its changes.

Winter brings us the element of water, which helps to remind us to go with the flow of life. The yin organ that resonates with this season and element is the kidneys. The healing sound is “Choo,” and the energy colour is a deep blue and/or black.

While the holiday season gets seemingly longer and louder and busier and brighter, we only have to look to nature to be reminded that winter is actually a time and place for moving inward. It is naturally 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 so we have the energy required for new growth in the spring. Winter is also a time to tend to and transform fear, stress, and loneliness. It is the perfect time of year to sit down with the darkness—to embrace it and feel it and let long-held energies flow.

I hope you will join me—Sat. Dec. 21 from 10-11:15 a.m.—to welcome winter with this class to help us transition to this special time during our practice.

Class size is restricted, so please email me to save your space.

Namaste,
Sandra

© Sandra Tonn

Qigong for Digestion workshop (Sunday, Nov. 17th)

Breath with mindfulness and posture = qigong. All three, together, help to bring about the state in which we can improve digestion, remove energy blocks, and move stagnant energy, allowing Qi—life force energy—to flow. When Qi flows, we are healthy and can digest our food and our life experiences as nature intended.

Without proper digestion, a cascade of health imbalances may result, including allergies and food sensitivities, inflammation, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, auto-intoxication, blood sugar imbalance and on and on and on. Digestion literally affects everything. Just as poor digestion affects the whole body, good digestion also affects the whole body—cultivating amazingly good health and energy.

Qigong’s approach to digestive function is through the stomach (yang) and spleen (yin) organs, which are associated with the Earth element and govern the process of digestion. Energetically, the stomach and spleen are where the body holds anxiety, over-thinking, and worry, all of which interfere with Qi flow and balance and, therefore, digestion. The natural energies of the stomach and spleen—the counter balance to anxiety, over-thinking, and worry—include trust, centredness, and balance itself. When we activate these energies within us and bring them in from the Earth, we can find the healthy Qi flow we need for relaxing and optimum digestion.

In addition, the gallbladder (yang) and liver (yin) organs, help to keep things moving smoothly, and the intestines, small and large, take in nutrients and remove wastes. In qigong, the gut is the location of the lower dantian (energy centre) and is considered the second brain, the only energy centre where energy can be stored. Master Mantak Chia, of the Universal Healing Tao (the teacher of two of my teachers) compares the structure of the intestines to a battery that can charge energy. This is where we can recharge the body with Qi, including food Qi, and the Qi we breathe in from our environment. Taking steps to nourish and strengthen these organs, and move Qi through their meridians (energy pathways) helps to address digestion on many levels, including physical, emotional, energetic, and even spiritual.

To heal, enhance and balance digestion, we will work with the classic inner smile meditation, specific acupressure points, and the mindful movement that switches the brain and body over to the parasympathetic nervous system, where healing and digestion take place.

If you’d like to join me for this important and empowering workshop, Sunday, November 17, 2 – 4 pm at Cran Hall, please email me to register as space is limited. The $40 workshop fee includes a 12-page, take-home booklet to support a home practice.

Namaste,
Sandra

© Sandra Tonn