Qi force: what is qi?
Life, it is said in the Chinese medical classics, is a gathering of Qi. A healthy (and happy) human being is a dynamic but harmonious mixture of all the aspects of qi that make up who we are
The ancient Chinese character (above) for qi comprises two parts. The upper radical signifies vapour and the lower is rice. This indicates that qi is a subtle substance that can be both immaterial (steam, vapour, gas) and material (grain of rice).
Qi is functional energy in all its manifestations, from the most material aspects of energy (such as the earth beneath your feet, your computer, and flesh and blood) to the most immaterial aspects (light, movement, heat, nerve impulses, thought, and emotion).
Qi is in a state of continuous flux, transforming endlessly from one aspect of qi into another. It is neither created nor is it ever destroyed; it simply changes in its manifestation.
In fact, in China, the understanding of qi is inherent in the very language. For instance, the literal translation of the Chinese character meaning “health” is “original qi”, “vitality” is “high quality qi”, and “friendly” is “peaceful qi".
In the human body there are many forms of qi. Yuan qi or ancestral qi is the qi you are born with. The qi we absorb through food, water, air and also the practice of qigong is houtian qi or post-heaven qi. Qi changes its form according to its locality and function. Nutritive qi exists in the interior of the body. Defensive qi is on the exterior and protects the body. Each internal organ has its own qi, such as Spleen qi or Liver qi. Ultimately these are all just different manifestations of the same qi energy.
In daoist terms there is yin qi and yang qi and many qigong exercises draw upon nature: the qi of heaven and earth and that of the plants, animals, mountains, rivers etc.
Qigong involves the cultivation and circulation of qi through the organs and meridians of the body to improve health and vitality. According to traditional Chinese medicine theory, stagnation or blockages of qi in the meridians causes pain or illness, hence the importance of Moving Qi for health, through qigong and taiji exercise, tuina massage and acupuncture.
Moving Qi classes:
- NEW Qigong course Fridays 10-11am: Starts 24 October for 6 weeks
- Clissold Park outdoor taiji and qigong classes fortnightly, next class Saturday 18 Oct & 1 Nov
Chinese exercises for energy, balance & mindfulness
Yang Sheng is a fundamental aspect of TCM. Translated as “nourishing life” or “health preservation” Yang Sheng includes daily exercise, balanced diet and and a calm, clear mind.
An awareness of qi (vital or functional energy) can be achieved through qigong, together with improved balance, posture, calming the shen (mind/spirit), developing internal strength and a sense of dantian (centre).
In a small group qigong course Laura will assess your health needs and tailor the qigong exercises to the health needs of each participant. and tailor an exercise routine to suit your condition, eg, Dao Yin sets for the Heart, Diabetes, Liver, Lung; 5-minute meditation. She will teach a set of exercises to practice at home and incorporate into your daily life.
Cost: 6x1hr £150
for bookings call Laura on 07939 043580 or email email@example.com
MSc Chinese Medicine (Acupuncture), MBCCMA
Laura is an acupuncturist with 16 years’ experience as a taiji and qigong teacher. Find out more at www.movingqi.co.uk
Moving Qi has now set up an acupuncture, tuina and taiji & qigong practice at Waterloo on Fridays. Click here for more information.
Exercise for the lungs:
Dry Wash Yinxiang points (Ganyu Yingxiang)
This exercise is part of the Dao Yin Lung set and is good for sinusitis, runny nose, blocked nose, itching or swelling of the face, hay fever, trigeminal neuralgia, facial paralysis etc.
Yinxiang (LI20) is a point on the Large Intestine channel, the paired organ with the Lung or metal element, associated with autumn.
- Feet together. Raise the hands and place the first metacarpal joint (knuckle of the thumb) on jinxing points either side of the nose, but not pushing on the nostrils or air-ducts
- Breathing in - as you press push up to the inner can thus between the eyes
- Breathing out - move down again
- Do 4 times
- Breathing in - turn the body and head as far as you can to the left blocking off the left nostril
- Breathing out - come back to face the front again with the nostril still blocked
- Repeat to the right side
- Do a total of twice each side
|Staying healthy through autumn
The Huang Di Nei Jing (Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon), one of the principal medical books of Traditional Chinese Medicine, was written thousands of years ago. In Chapter 2, the Daoist master Qi Bo states that “in the 3 months of autumn, the shapes of all living things on earth become mature naturally and are ready to be harvested. In autumn, the wind is vigorous and rapid, the environment on earth is clear and bright, so during this period, one should go to bed early to stay away from the chilliness, get up early to appreciate the crisp air of autumn, keep the spirit tranquil and stable to separate oneself from the sough of autumn by means of restraining the spirit and energy internally and guard the mind against anxiety and impetuosity. In this way, one’s tranquillity can still be maintained even in the sough of autumn atmosphere, and the breath of the lung can be kept even as well.”(1) These tips stand true thousands of years later.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the autumn is by the metal element, which is characterised by expansion, contraction, and transformation on physical, emotional, and spiritual levels. It brings with it a desire to know who we are and to find value and meaning in what we do. Also associated are the emotions of grief, sadness, reflection and “letting go”.
The lungs and large intestine are the metal organs and autumn is particularly associated with health problems in the lungs (such as allergies and asthma are common) and the large intestines; as well as being associated with skin disorders (such as eczema and psoriasis) and poor immunity.
Tips for autumn:
1. Huang di nei jing, transl. P Unschuld
- Eat fresh seasonal foods - see what is available at your local farmer’s market
- Get out into nature - our emotional state and energy levels are affected by the decreasing levels of sunlight, an awareness of the nature of autumn should help us avoid the symptoms associated with S.A.D.
- Have a clean out - this should help with the emotional factors
- Carry layers of clothing - protection your body from wind and cold
- Eat soups - use seasonal meats and vegetables with warming nutrients
- Keep hydrated - the moisture of the humid summer gives way to autumn dryness. Drink tea or room temperature water to help your body remain hydrated
- Get enough sleep - regenerative and keeps the immune system strong
- Exercise - keeps the lungs strong and moods stable.
- Decrease stress - try meditation, qigong, taiji, art or music, laughter, taking up a hobby, enjoying time with friends and family or gardening