Qi Gong and Tai Chi, are both two of my favorite forms of physical practice. Especially as I get older. I’ve been very fortunate to have experienced Tai Chi many years ago with a great instructor, Jon Belanger, at an all-day seminar I presented in Southern California called ‘Present Day’. I’d seen Tai Chi many times and thought it was absolutely beautiful but had never actually experienced it myself.
Then, many years later, my own daughter traveled to Beijing, China on special scholarship from University of California Irvine where she attended school and got to practice every single morning with the instructor who taught 3000 participants to perform at the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Olympics. She got up very early every morning to take advantage of what she knew was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. My daughter’s father teaches Aikido and she began that practice from the time she was able to walk. A couple years later she began ballet practice which she has continued her whole life. I think she was well prepared for the movement and fluidity of Tai Chi or Qi Gong and especially the gracefullness. But don’t let this fool you. As with martial arts training, the practice itself appears quite harmless and even dance-like. Qi Gong is described as a centuries-old system of coordinated body-posture and movement, breathing, and meditation used for the purposes of health, spirituality, and martial-arts training. Like ballet, Qi Gong is a daily practice and lifestyle. Here’s a vid of the opening ceremonies at the Beijing Olympics. This is just their practice session! So beautiful!
Here’s a photo from the actual opening ceremonies.
Recently I came upon a great video for a simple morning routine that I absolutely love. And, you’ll love this part I’m sure — it takes only 5 minutes. I recommend it being the very first thing you do when you get out of bed. Seriously. As in use the bathroom first if needed and get right to it. When I say anyone can do it, I mean ANYONE can do it. And the biggest benefit to me is that you can memorize this routine after doing it a few times and then do it virtually anywhere. At home, outside, in a hotel room, etc. Literally anywhere. Better yet check your local community and join a group that practices regularly in a beautiful environment outdoors.
My phenom athlete nephew is an incredible baseball player. When I recently went to his baseball tryouts I was (once again) reminded how little, if any, stretching athletes do. The pros do it eventually. Just ask Raphel Nadal. He didn’t believe he needed to stretch before getting on the court. Until he started having problems. And boy oh boy did he have problems. It’s only now that he has incorporated stretching into his routine.
I talked to my nephew and felt he actually listened to me. Especially since his parents supported what I had to say. I sent him this 5-minute video and he has been doing it ever since. I told him I truly believe if he stretches and makes it an integral part of his daily lifestyle, he could have a full and very successful career in baseball. If not, I promised him with confidence that he would have a setback at some point. Maybe next week, next month, next year, or in a few years. But that it would definitely happen.
Having taught Yoga for over 25 years now and many years of martial arts before that, I am still amazed how many athletes think they don’t need to stretch. That they can brutalize their bodies with unnatural movement, take hits not meant to be taken, and put themselves through work-outs without stretching. Top athletes mostly get it because they’ve learned the hard way. But starting young while the body is so pliable is really ideal.
So here’s that vid. Try to really pay attention to the form and copy it exactly. Notice your breathing. And if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out. Also, Jon Belanger whom I mentioned at the beginning of this blog is going to be streaming vids soon. Let me know if you’d like me to contact you when this happens.
Qi Gong 5-minute Morning Practice:
Originally published at http://www.jeanoshima.com on February 22, 2020.