At Melbourne Acupuncture Centre, we present Tai Chi as well as Qi Gong classes, as part of our health and wellness therapy range.
Most people know what Tai Chi is or at least are familiar with the image of group’s old Chinese people moving gracefully through a sequence of flowing movements in a park. At Melbourne Acupuncture Centre – here is Tai Chi and Qi Gong near you!
Qi Gong is generally less well known but is the foundation of Tai Chi, indeed it can be said that if Tai Chi is the base of the tree, Qi Gong is the roots. By extension Kung Fu is the trunk and branches that stem from it.
Tai Chi very roughly translates as shadow boxing, the opponent is always the self or more specifically our shadow side and the purpose is to move the Qi (energy) through the body so as to align and harmonise the flow of energy, release stagnant Qi which causes disharmony and illness, improve the posture, soothe the mind and prepare us for a deeper integration of mind body and spirit.
Qi Gong roughly translates as energy work but the key to truly experiencing the benefits of Qi Gong is to not work the energy but rather to allow the energy to work us, to fell intuitively into the body, to surrender to the flow of energy and to allow the energy to express itself through our movements.
There are many schools and styles of both Tai Chi and Qi Gong all with prescribed sequences of movements and to feel the full benefit it is helpful to learn a sequence of movements and have an understanding of their purpose in order to reap the benefits.
Energy follows intent is the tenet underpinning both Tai Chi and Qi Gong as we are using our intention to move energy through the body. With Tai Chi we extend our arm, bend our leg, rotate our hips, step and move with the intention of directing the Qi through that part of the body. Our intention determines where the energy moves. While this is also true of Qi Gong and there are specific movements to learn the real healing takes place when we surrender to the flow of energy and allow it to work us.
Fully surrendering to Qi gong induces a neurogenic release in the body, tremoring. This tremoring is an autonomic response, an involuntary release of tension and trauma held within the fibres of the body. It releases muscle tension, tightness and bunching, adhesions of the fascia, joint stiffness etc. This tremoring may then proceed into a compulsion to stretch and contort the body to jump and shake and make sounds which can manifests as words or as absolute gibberish, it matters not.
What really matters is our ability to get ourselves out of the way, to let go of our attachment of how it is supposed to be, look, feel and just let it happen. . In Traditional Chinese Medicine we refer to this tension and trauma as stagnant Qi. Stagnant Qi like stagnant water becomes dirty polluted and can cause illness. While we begin with the prescribed sequence of movements we then allow the body’s innate intelligence to take over and release how and where it needs to.
The neurogenic response is part of the body’s innate wisdom and occurs throughout nature in all animals including humans. When we have been involved in a traumatic event e.g. car crash we experience a trembling through our body for 8-10 minutes in which our body discharges the adrenalin coursing through our system. This only happens after a traumatic event.
Our lives, however, are filled with tiny conflicts on a daily basis; moments when we have to bite our tongue or keep a lid on things because it may be deemed inappropriate or we simply don’t feel comfortable expressing it. Overwork, worry, anxiousness causes stress hormones to be released in our body but not quite to the extent that neurogenic discharge automatically happens like it would with a traumatic event. Therefore we get a build up of the stress hormones which cause our body muscles and sinews to tighten and tighten more and more until it manifests as a headache, back pain, neck pain, injury etc etc.
The practice of Qi Gong or any other form of exercise which induces the neurogenic discharge e.g. TRE, neurogenic Yoga, kundalini allows the body to release the physical tension and discharge the stress hormones contained within. If done on a daily basis this could be like a “somatic debrief” allowing us to process and release the stress of our daily lives.
Thus in relationship to Tai Chi and Qi gong, we utilise Qi Gong and allow the energy to work our body and release stagnation. This then allows us to have a more powerful experience of “energy following intent” in our body. With less stagnation to stem the flow of Qi the energy which we are moving with our intention flows like a river rather than a stream, with more power and force at our disposal. This then increases the effectiveness of our Tai Chi practice allowing our bodies to become more supple and powerful.
The analogy of the reed bending in the wind comes to mind. When the reed is rigid and dry it breaks in a strong wind. When it is supple and hydrated it bends and moves with the wind and endures. The fascia hydrates and nourishes the muscles and organs. When the fascia is adhered the muscles are tight and unyielding, the organs are weak. Tight facial fibres will not absorb moisture so drinking more water is not going to make much of a difference, but when stretched gently and allowed to release the expand and absorb water thus hydrating the muscles and organs. This is like the reed in the wind whose suppleness is its strength. The neurogenic response is not just about tremoring and shaking but also allowing your body to unfold in its own stretching and releasing of tightness which affects both the muscles and fascia in addition to the sinews and joints. Too much resistance undermines our resilience.
Lao Tzu said “nothing is softer and more flexible than water and yet nothing can resist it.”
Water represents our emotional body. We need to allow our water/emotions to flow. When we attempt to resist the flow of water/emotions we become disturbed. When we allow it to flow we are in harmony, at peace. The neurogenic response of Qi gong is a way of allowing the water to flow without resisting it, to wear away the obstacles of our intransigence which cause disharmony in our being. Directing the flow of our energy through Tai Chi allows us to keep the pathway clear so that the energy is on hand and ready to move with our intention.
Together they form a powerful foundation for deep healing, cleansing and harmonising the body’s energy so that we can experience a smoother flow in all aspects of our life.
Feel free to join us for a class, to feel how your body responds to this age-old technique at Melbourne Acupuncture Centre.