A Qigong class could take many formats depending on what the teacher wants to focus on and what their philosophy is and where they received their Qigong training, and what their cultural backgound is. If you have never been exposed to Qigong before and have mostly been surrounded by Western influences in your life, you would probably get most benefit out of attending a class that incorporates a modern approach, and explains why you do certain exercises throughout the class. So, what is modern Qigong and why should you start with it over any other type of Qigong?
Western belief systems can interfere with perception of value.
As Qigong originated in China and eastern culture is very different to the culture in the West, it can mean that many people who would otherwise benefit from Qigoing in the west might miss it completetely because they may not relate to to the way a certain Qigong master teaches. Qigong embraces Taoist principles and is therefore a different way of thinking than the west in relation to approaching not only specific exercsises, but also daily life.
Qigong teaches us to go with the flow.
Flowing with life rather than pushing against it is central to Taoist philosophy, but when starting out with Qigong, it is best not to get hung up on termininology. The goal when starting out is just to have an experience of what practicing Qigong feels like. The Tao teaches us to embrace nature and its cycles. Western culture for the most part ignores the cycles in nature when it comes to health. For example, it is not unusual for health clubs and gyms to schedule very hard core exercise classes at night time. This goes against the bodies natural cicadian rhythm as night is the time to enter into a more gentle way of being and let go of the days stress and get into a more receptive mode. If you are engaging in very physically strenuous exercise at night, you are actually adding to your bodies stress rather than taking it away.
The structure of a modern Qigong class.
A modern Qigong class is divided into three sections:
- The class wiill start with exercises that are focussed around activating the energy in your body. This usually revolves around self massage techniques or slapping/tapping/thumping on specific areas of the body that are related to the acupressure points. Breathing exercises will be combined with this, or as a stand alone exercise to begin with.
- The next exercises would focus on stretching specific lines of tension in the body-not only from a muscular point of view, but also stetching areas where specifc energy meridian flows are which correlate to the acupucture points that traditional Chinese medicine makes use of.
- The final exercises of a modern Qigong class move into a flow series where breath and gentle flowing movements are combined to circulate the energy that was activated from the self massage techniques as well as the stretching exercises.
Mental imagery is highlighted to give the mind a specific point of attention which focuses on the way nature moves and behaves. The class may conclude with a centering exercise and then bring the energy back down by placing the hands one on top of the other over the lower part of the belly and staying in touch with the natural movement of the breath.