When I found yoga it changed my world. The Seasonal Yoga Academy I attended classes at was within walking distance of where I lived in Glasgow and it was there I was introduced to the practice of qigong. Seasonal yoga combines yoga, qigong and t’ai chi to practice holistic self-care seasonally.
My 200 hour Seasonal Yoga teacher training further developed my understanding of qigong and my enjoyment of integrating the qigong forms with yoga. Last summer I attended ‘qigong immersion training’ in London with Mimi Kuo-Deemer which deepened my knowledge and appreciation of the two practices woven together. During lockdown I have enjoyed practicing qigong and Daoist flow classes weekly with Mimi through Zoom.
There are thousands of forms of qigong so I am only just touching the surface with my studies and practice!
What is qigong? (pronounced chee – gong)
“Qigong is self-initiated health and wellness practice consisting of a combination of movement, meditation, and breathing… (it) is a combination of Qi (aka life-force, energy, creativity, consciousness, breath, function) and gong (cultivation or practice over time).” https://www.qigonginstitute.org/category/5/what-is-qigong
Why do I like it?
It slows me down! Physically and mentally. It enables a sense of steadiness, focus and presence. It calms my breathing. Nothing complicated but incredibly powerful.
I love the softness and flow-like nature of many of forms and they work so well with yoga asana. I find the meditative aspect of qigong and its principles of ‘yi’ (intention) and ‘chen’ (giving weight to the earth), truly enhance the experience of the yoga asana. For me it’s the permission to soften, to ease up, to accept what is, not to strive or get frustrated when the asana isn’t quite what I expect. There is the opportunity to let go and experience a more mindful presence of my body and perhaps notice more balance, fluidity and cohesion in how I approach and practice yoga.
I love the names of forms, often relating to something in nature. This helps to embody the form and actually sense the movement and/or stillness.
For example, flying crane, birds nesting and separating clouds.
Whilst the weather has been kind it’s been beautiful to have the opportunity to practice outside in the garden. Even my partner’s son has joined me.
I teach the children in my classes some of the forms and love how they get creative with names, shapes and movements, We have many more forms to explore.
What are my favourites forms to do?
I have been enjoying the Muscle Tendon Changing Practice and The 18 Forms most recently, as well as the Eight Brocades. Sometimes just parting clouds and diving into a pool can feel exhilarating!
There is a concept within qigong called ‘Wuwei’ which means effortless effort, going with the flow; only using what is necessary and no more than you need. It’s a “softening what is unnecessary force or gripping to change your experience of your practice”, Mimi Kuo-Deemer. I think it speaks volumes and is a wonderfully practical concept for both on and off the mat.
I am so excited to be bringing Qigong Yoga Flow Classes to Heather Yoga, I look forward to seeing you there.
Here are some resources you may find interesting to have a look at:
Her books are wonderful and she has another one being released next month.
This is one of my seasonal yoga teachers – she is a fountain of knowledge!