For eight years now, I have the fortune to shape the daily qigong program at the O so it suits the needs of people in early recovery. When you are detoxing from booze or opiates, it is pretty hard to stand inside yourself.
Some die hard Qigong Masters might say I offer â€œqigong liteâ€ for the 30 minutes each day, but there is nothing â€œliteâ€ about setting aside time to allow the body, mind and spirit to meet.
Iâ€™d also say a good stretch and easy movement can be the perfect morning warm up for anyone who wants to feel better. And at the O it can be the first time someone makes the shift from being beside themselves, to finding comfort in their own skin.
It is by far the most rewarding
work Iâ€™ve ever had. And as a tai chi teacher, that is really saying something!
When I started to learn Tai Chi, I didnâ€™t even know what it was called, and I sure never heard of Qigong. Neither was very popular at the time, but I heard it was good for old people and hippies. It was a good fit for me then, it’sÂ a good fit for me now.
The warm up moves we did before each class, were great. They usually came in sets of eight, had emphasis on the breath and body working together and even had cool names, like Embrace the Moon or Dragon Spreads Her Claws; â€” to me, they were nice warm ups. In my mind, they were meant to loosen you up and calm you down for the Tai Chi lesson that would follow.
Iâ€™m not sure when I realized we were practicing qigong before every tai chi class, nor did I really care. It was part of the class, I liked it, learn it, and continued to think of the practice as a nice warm up to the real reason I came to the class â€” Tai Chi.
In 1994, I traveled to Shanghai as part of an American friendship tour. We had the opportunity to study with Tai Chi Grand Masters, Fu Zhen Wen and Ma Yueh-liang. We also learned the Gou Lin Qigong with Master Ju Ben Yi. It was all quite wonderful. Well, almost all of it was wonderful.
We didnâ€™t know at the time of signing up for the trip that we would have to give and watch A LOT of Tai Chi demos every single day. No one in our group wanted to demo. We were unruly and unique individuals who wanted to study, not preform. But, the Chinese players knew how to put on a demo and they were fun to watch!
Now, the point of my story.
There was one demo that I admit to laughing out loud at when I saw it. This demo just cracked me up because it was weird, familiar, and very different from the martial arts we had been watching.
In this big gymnasium, we sat in the bleachers, and watched, at least 50 women march in very straight lines to horrendous music. All of them wearing beautiful, matching white silk outfits, and same make up. (deep red lipstick and painted circles of red rouge on their cheeks). They were a sight to behold and once they found their place, they demoedâ€¦…….. WARM UPS!!
What a hoot, I knew these moves! These women moved with precision,Â the very graceful and gentle moves called, Eight Pieces of Silk, also known to me as â€” warm ups!
Qigong! It is a powerful and healing art. Qigong is a stand alone practice, an enlightening demo, and Qigong is a perfect warm up for any day!