The Power of Chi (Qi)

  This fascinating film has just come out and I’d say it’s worth every penny of the few pounds you need to pay to watch it. It mostly features tai chi teacher Adam Mizner whom I spent a weekend with in Brussels a few years back. Watch him effortlessly overcome the world’s strongest man, three mixed martial arts champions, an Olympic gold medal fencer and a basketball legend with the mysterious power generated through the dedicated practice of tai chi.
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New year resolutions

I think most of us approach the new year with some idea of what we might want to do differently or better. Whether we achieve that is another matter, but the opportunity is there. So here’s a simple invitation to engage with a qigong practice that – when committed to – can really change our mental and physical health and wellbeing. I’m starting a regular class in the baduanjin (eight silken movements) qigong form (Tuesdays 7.15pm UK time). Over a thousand years old, it incorporates all the time-tested wisdom of what is known as the ‘internal arts’ tradition. In practice
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    “The three months of winter, they denote securing and storing. The water is frozen and the earth breaks open … Go to rest early and rise late. You must wait for the sun to shine. … Avoid cold and seek warmth”. The Yellow Emperor’s Inner Classic, compiled between 100 BCE and 100 CE Here in the Northern hemisphere, today is the winter solstice – the shortest day when yin reaches its maximum point. From now on, yang starts to grow – a glimmer at first but before too long the days begin to lengthen and we dare to think
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 I’ve created a free 30 minute introductory qigong course. It explains the basic qigong standing position and then explores three practices to help integrate body, breath and mind to usher us into the ‘qigong state’. It can be practised on its own or as preparation for a longer session, and is especially helpful for calming anxiety and fear and for building energy. You’ll need to register on my school website to access it but it’s free and you’ll also find a lot more free videos, articles etc. there.  
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Yinyang in qigong 4: coiling and uncoiling

“For all [to practice] this Way: You must coil, you must contract, You must uncoil, you must expand, You must be firm, you must be regular [in this practice] Nei-Yeh (Inward Training), China, 4th century BCE[1] Neigong/qigong One of the key characteristics of the Chinese ‘internal’ mind-breath-bodywork tradition, is the practice of lengthening or uncoiling (yang) and settling back or coiling (yin). These movements are performed through the whole elastic body, slowly (in synchronicity with lower abdominal breathing), mindfully, with the minimum of muscular tension and not to our full stretched capacity. Indeed stretching feels like the wrong word since
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Yinyang in qigong 3: internal and external

Yinyang in qigong 3: internal and external Chinese martial arts are commonly differentiated into two styles: external-yang (waijia) and internal-yin (neijia). Of course the distinction is not rigid, since like all yinyang differentiation, each contains elements of the other. However it can be a useful shorthand. Waijia – external – yang Mention Chinese martial arts to most people and they likely think of people flying through the air, yelling and delivering dramatic kicks and punches, maybe even smashing bricks with their bare hands. Typified by the Shaolin fighting monks, this is waijia (pronounced whyjeea). Like much modern exercise, these external styles aim for
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Yinyang in qigong 2: strength and softness

“Being strong without letting strength go too far, being flexible without becoming ineffective, strength is joined to flexibility and flexibility is applied with strength.” Liu I-ming, 18th century CE In this second blog discussing the application of yinyang theory to qigong, I want to discuss the complementary opposites of strength and softness. Strength – yang We all need to build and maintain sufficient strength to accomplish whatever we want to do in life. For most of us that doesn’t involve anything heroic. In a varied and ‘natural’ life, we probably want to carry all kinds of things – children, shopping,
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Yinyang in qigong 1: Nourishing and moving

“Flowing waters do not stagnate because they move. The qi and the body are also like this. If the body does not move the qi will coagulate.” The Annals of Lu Buwei, 3rd century BCE “Moving, be like water, still, be like a mirror”. Zhuangzi, 3rd century BCE This is the first in a series of blogs about yinyang in the practice of qigong. Though outwardly simple, yinyang theory offers meaning and insight into almost every aspect of our existence and it could be argued that the whole of qigong is an exercise in understanding, embodying and playing with it. [At the
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Qigong workshop

I’m offering a two-part workshop in the famous baduanjin (eight silken movements) practice that dates back to the 11th century. It contains all the essential ingredients of qigong – cultivation of the three skills of body, breath and mind. In these challenging times qigong can help us stay grounded and resilient. Cultivating the body, we develop elasticity, strength, stability and alignment. Cultivating the breath, we learn how to move into a nourishing and healing, relaxed parasympathetic state. Cultivating the mind, we build mindful presence and actually start to change the physical structure of the brain, building areas responsible for managing
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Finding My Way: Memoirs and Short Stories

I spent part of lockdown writing a new book, with all profits going to the Chinese Medicine Forestry Trust. It’s a raw and honest account of childhood, teen rebellion, drugs and hippie travelling, transformation into a natural foods pioneer, studying Chinese medicine and more.  It’s available as an e-book from Amazon (you don’t need a Kindle device – you can download a free app for phones, tablets, laptops etc.). Apologies for using Amazon but it’s realistically the best option, with for authors and readers – I guess that’s why they are so successful. Here is a sample from Chapter14: Music When
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