Qigong, or Mindful Movement, is a fantastic form of gentle exercise and is appropriate for people of all ages. It helps to release stress and tension, builds up your reserves of energy, strengthens your core and just makes you feel great! Regular practice enables you to deal more easily with the stresses and strains of everyday life – you feel calmer and more able to cope. See further down the page for a short video of Lifting the Sky, one of the forms that make up the Luohan Hands Qigong set.
I run classes every Tuesday evening and Thursday afternoon in Coleraine, and in Castlerock on Wednesday evening. I also run Workshops for beginners every few months. Attending a beginners’ workshop allows you to join the established classes or you have have the workshop as a stand-alone event. Contact me for more details.
I can offer private classes by prior arrangement, these will normally be £30 for a 1-hour class.
What is Qigong?
Qi is the Chinese word for life energy or life force or just energy – there’s not really a direct, word for word translation. According to Chinese medicine, Qi is the animating power that flows through all living things, we are all full of Qi. A healthy person has an abundance of Qi and the life energy that they have is clear and flowing, not polluted, blocked or stagnant. Gong means work, so qigong means working with your life energy.
In the west we don’t usually regard the slow movements of Qigong as exercise. However, in Chinese medicine, disease can be caused by a blockage or imbalance of Qi energy and often shiatsu or other energy medicine practices such as acupuncture are used to address this. Qigong movements promote the smooth flow of energy. By performing the movements of a Qigong form in co-ordination with relaxed, natural breathing, you help to keep your Qi moving smoothly through the energy channels or meridians in your body. Therefore whilst doing these external movements, you are assisting the free flow of internal energy.
Aside from this, Qigong can help to increase flexibility and suppleness, and exercises the muscles. The smooth, gentle movements aid relaxation and help to keep your mind calm and focused. Medical Qigong – the forms I practice and teach – can be practiced as a form of self-healing.
A typical Qigong session
You don’t need any special equipment to do a qigong session. Although loose clothes that you can move in easily are better, you can even do the exercises in your work clothes – no high heels though as they mess up your posture. A session of Qigong is an ideal start or end to your day.
Sessions can be for varying amounts of time; my sessions are usually 30 or 60 minutes long. This involves a warm-up and working through a particular form of Qigong, such as Luohan Hands or perhaps one of the Shibashi forms and then a moving meditation. The Qigong taught very much depends on the needs and make-up of the participants in the class. When I am running a longer series of classes, then learning a longer form, such as Shibashi or 9-Forms is great fun to do. You get a sense of real achievement when you can do the form without prompting and when you can feel your Qi moving in response to the exercise.
As well as my community classes, I have previously taught on some executive education courses at the University of Oxford and I have taught senior members of staff in a variety of FTSE100 companies.