I love the water and have been an aquafitness instructor/trainer for 25 years. While studying qigong I asked one of my teachers what he thought about practicing Qigong in the water. He told me that water is an excellent medium for Qigong because water magnifies the benefits of Qigong. Many years ago I went to an aquatic therapy conference in Washington D.C., while there I learned about Tai chi in the water and later became certified to teach Ai Chi. Ai Chi is a set of Tai chi movements designed for the water. Both Tai chi and Qigong are perfect for the water. When you watch someone do Qigong and Tai chi it looks like they are in the water. Water supports the slow flowing movements and helps the learner achieve success early. Fluid Zen is a combination of Ai Chi and many forms of Qigong done in a warm pool (90 degrees). I begin and end each class with a few movements of Ai Chi, followed by several qigong poses from the different styles I have learned. Currently, I incorporate the 18 Luohan hands and the five yin organ routine. In September 2018 I will be adding Shibashi. Shibashi is beautiful flowing form and will be perfect in the water! Practicing in the water allows for more freedom of movement. You can get more range of motion in the water, sink deeper into the poses and the warm water assists with relaxation. Come and try a class! I am so excited to be teaching at two pools in Oakville! Click here to see where you can experience Fluid Zen.
This is a question that is rarely asked. However, I know everyone wants to ask it. Can you feel it? What does it feel like? What am I suppose to feel? First, what is Qi? Qi is the universal energy force that flows through everything. Like water, it flows freely around us, and through our bodies via energy channels or meridians. We can manipulate this energy by practicing qigong, tai chi or yoga. All these energy practices move your energy. For more, read my blog post What is Qi. Can I feel the Qi? Yes, I feel it. Did I always feel it? No, I did not always feel the qi. What does it feel like? People report different sensations. I can report the following: After performing some of the 18 Luohan hands I feel the Qi rushing to my hands, it feels like tingling and sometimes the hands feel like they are swelling (but they are not - nothing you can see). Other times, when I am practicing a step in the 5 step routine called "flowing breeze swaying willow" I feel the Qi spiraling up, and my whole body wants to follow the spiral. Other times it feels like a subtle wave going through my whole body. The thing to remember about qi is it is very subtle, and gentle. Often I feel qi as heat. Lots of heat. No, it is not a hot flash. Those are very different. The heat from Qi is gradual, and not as intense as a hot flash. No nausea, or sweating. So how do you learn to feel the Qi? The only way is to practice. Do your very best to enter zen and go [...]
Here is an introduction to the history, philosophy, and practice of The 18 Luohan Hands. In romanized Chinese, the 18 Luohan Hands is written Shiba Luohan Shou, which is pronounced as follows: • Shi (like the word “ship” but without the “p”) • Ba (rhymes with “La”, ) • Luo (rhymes with “claw”) • Han (rhymes with “con”) • Shou (sounds like “show”) The word Luohan comes from the Sanskrit word Arhat. Both words refer to a person who has cultivated a high level of spirituality. After the Buddha passed away roughly 2500 years ago, 500 of his top disciples gathered together in a grand council. Together, they reviewed and discussed his teachings word by word. These disciples became known as the 500 Arhats. When Buddhism spread from India to China, there were some cultural adjustments. For example, the Chinese paid special homage to 18 of the 500 Arhats. Statues of these 18 Luohan are often found in Buddhist temples today. When Bodhidharma taught at the Shaolin Temple (roughly 1000 years after the passing of the Buddha), he chose to pay homage to these 18 Luohan, perhaps in an effort to reach across the cultural divide. So he named a set of Qigong techniques after them. The word Shou means “hands”, but refers to the 18 techniques. So a figurative translation would be the 18 Techniques of the Enlightened Ones. Over time, the 18 Luohan Hands evolved into the 18 Luohan Fists. Here, “fists” also refers to the techniques, but implies that they are not just for health. In other words, it was a form of Kung Fu. This was the birth of Shaolin Kung Fu, a martial art that would become legendary. The 18 [...]
1. I practice daily! This is a feat in of itself. Half of the population in Canada is not active enough for health. In addition to my Qigong practice I swim, walk, hike, inline skate, cycle and I teach aquafitness. 2. I am passionate about movement and I believe movement is medicine, taken daily you can ward off most ailments including aging. 3. I am a fitness and physical activity specialist. I have worked in the fitness industry for 25 years. I have many certifications including: aquafit( instructor, trainer, therapist), Bone fit certified, Watsu 1,11,111, Ahi chi, Tai chi, Yoga, and Qigong teacher training. 4. I am a health promotion specialist who worked in public health promoting physical activity and chronic disease prevention. If you live in Halton, you may remember me as the coordinator for Active Halton, a group of government and private organizations dedicated to increasing the physical activity levels of Halton residents. We did some amazing work that still influences decision making of local governments. I coordinated the Mississauga Halton Fall Prevention Initiative and promoted the Home Support Exercise Program to Mississauga and Halton residents. I ended my career in the health sector (public health, and the Mississauga Halton LHIN) after spending 18 months with a non government organization - Osteoporosis Canada. While there, I encouraged health care professionals (surgeons and physicians) to implement best practices in Osteoporosis diagnosis and treatment. I assisted with best practice implementation at 3 hospitals in York Region - all three implemented the best practice guidelines and received awards. 5. I know chronic illness, if there is something I don’t know I am good at finding out causes, treatment and best practices. In addition, [...]
Is Qigong difficult to do? Most qigong is very easy to do. The forms I teach are not physically demanding. The movements are simple and easy to learn. In fact, the form is not the most important part of the practice. So, you can butcher the movement. I won't correct you, or tell you you are doing it wrong. Everyone is encouraged to move within their personal comfort zone. The most important part of Qigong practice is learning how to relax, followed by learning how to breathe. Yes, relaxing and breathing. Practicing qigong is training your body to enter the relaxation response quickly and effortlessly. Only then can the body heal. Being relaxed allows the energy in the body to move freely. This movement facilitates healing. The dynamic & static postures enhance the movement of qi through the energy meridians. Practicing regularly helps you to discover and feel the qi. Once you are at this stage you become very in tune with your physical body and learn how to move the energy to your benefit. Do I need a yoga mat? You do not need a mat or any special equipment. Do I have to sit on the floor? All the qigong movements I teach are in a standing position. You will never have to sit on the floor. If you learn a meditation from me, you will be standing or sitting in a chair. It is very important to have your feet on the floor for all qigong movements and meditations. What do I wear? Wear comfortable clothing and non slip indoor shoes. Loose clothing that is not restrictive. What ever you are comfortable in. I usually teach at yoga studios and they [...]
Qi pronounced chi, is the universal life force that runs through everything. Qi is the life force which sustains every activity of the body, mind and spirit. If you practice yoga, you know this energy as prana, if you are familiar with Shiatsu you know it as Ki. The Chinese are the leaders in knowledge of this life force. Chinese doctors have mapped the energy system of the body. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is based on balancing and enhancing these energies in the body. TCM and Qigong have been in use to enhance health for over 5000 years. Your Qi can be enhanced with herbs, food, acupuncture, and Qigong. What is Qigong? Qigong, pronounced Chi Kung consists of static postures, moving postures, and meditation. There are numerous studies that confirm the benefits of Qigong and many more are available in Chinese. In China, qigong exercises are done daily in school to prevent the need for eye glasses. People practice Qigong for health, to learn about themselves, and to learn how to follow the breath to find peace. According to TCM theory, we need to protect our life force and ensure it is flowing freely. In order to do that we need to eat properly, spend time in nature, and move the energetic body. Qigong exercises or movements are designed to move the energy through the energy meridians, transform energy, and store energy. Where does Qi or energy come from? Your original Qi comes from your parents – we are born with an energy body, we obtain Qi from food, the air, earth and the heavens (planets & stars). Qi is the life force – without it, there is no life. As we age, our energy [...]
Shooting Arrows This movement is one of the most challenging to learn. It uses the one finger zen hand form, which is a special Shaolin technique that brings energy to the hands and index finger. The movement begins with the arms crossed in a horse stance, and the hands in the one finger zen position. You then alternate stepping to the side and shooting an arrow to the opposite side. This movement is best learned from a teacher and practiced many times. Practicing shooting arrows sends energy to the lung and heart meridians. It is useful for skin problems, respiratory issues, high blood pressure, depression, self confidence and memory issues.
The five organ routine is a very powerful set of Qigong movements that move energy through the kidneys, lungs, heart, liver and spleen. These are very important organs that work in harmony to sustain life. When one of these organs is not functioning optimally it will affect the others. The five yin organ routine is designed to disperse/release toxic Qi and collect/send healing energizing Qi to the five yin organs. Why do we want to ensure energy is flowing freely through these 5 organs? According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), the five are connected and when there is an energy block or disturbance in one, there can be a domino affect. Energy disturbances can occur from external sources and from unprocessed emotions. To read more about these 5 organs from a TCM perspective click here The five yin organs are easily disrupted by the seven emotions (anger, joy, worry, grief, sadness, fear, and shock) than are the Yang organs. The emotions are said to be the primal force behind energy transformation; however, each person will have different reaction to emotional changes, based on his or her dominant elemental pattern. Each organ has an element associated with it, and each person has a dominant element. Below are the seven emotions, the corresponding organ, and the element. 1. Anger - Liver -Wood Symptoms of disharmony include, blurred vision, headaches, high blood pressure, insomnia. 2. Joy - Heart - Fire Symptoms of disharmony include anxiety, insomnia, elbow problems, obsessive compulsive disorders 3. Worry - Spleen - Earth Symptoms of disharmony include, nausea, weight loss, belching and easy bruising. 4. Grief and Sorrow - Lungs - Metal Symptoms of disharmony often appear on the skin in the [...]
Qigong is amazing! It makes you feel so good and has lasting benefits. The more you do, the more benefits you receive. The forms I teach are for health. They are gentle and easy to do. Dancing Crane # 10 of the 18 Luohan Hands Qigong is dynamic meditation and is perfect for those that find it difficult to meditate. We practice qigong from a standing position, move slowly, gently, and with our eyes closed. Practicing this way forces the brain to focus on the movements, which in turn tricks the mind into going into a meditative state. With no distractions from the outside world, the mind naturally focuses on moving, flowing, breathing and effortlessly enters zen (a meditative state). Qigong has the power to improve you physically, balance your emotions, and affect you on a spiritual level. Physically, qigong will challenge your balance, improve your strength and endurance. Qigong helps to clear stagnant energy & emotional blocks, in fact this is one of the most beneficial aspects of the practice. According to Chinese medicine, an emotional block is how disease starts in the body. On a spiritual level, qigong allows you to access spirit and become your true self. Another benefit is experiencing a very relaxed state or zen. There is nothing like entering zen to improve your health. The more you do, the better you get at it and you can take this relaxed state with you everywhere. When the body is relaxed and the chatter stops in the mind, your body can heal. If you want to see some changes in any of these areas, try qigong!
Plucking Stars Plucking Stars is a simple movement that requires you to reach for the stars with one hand while pressing down with the other hand. Plucking stars improves digestion by bringing energy to the spleen and stomach meridians. According to Chinese medical theory and western medicine, good digestion is essential for good health and vitality. Plucking stars can help with virtually any digestive problem. Add plucking stars to your routine to help with indigestion, acid reflux, diarrhea, constipation, diabetes, liver and gallbladder problems, Crohn’s disease, diverticulosis, tennis elbow, endometriosis, yeast infections, dysmenorrhea, vaginitis and ovarian cysts. In addition, plucking stars opens up the 8 Extraordinary Meridians along the sides of the body, these are important energy reservoirs. Learn more about the Extraordinary Meridians in a future blog post.