Tai Chi and Qi Gong
|Tai Chi and Qi Gong|
|In China there is no conceptual distinction made between Tai Chi and Qi Gong, in fact, the terms are used interchangeably. The term Qi Gong is usually used to denote not only Tai Chi and “classic” Qi Gong, but is also used to describe such practices as Hsing I, calisthenics, yoga, meditation and chanting.
Even if we were to stick with the narrowest interpretation of the term Qi Gong, we would find that in China alone there are thousands, if not tens of thousands of variations and iterations of Qi Gong practice. These styles would loosely fall into three major categories; Qi Gong used as an external and usually martial practice, Qi Gong used as an internal and usually medically or health related practice, and finally Qi Gong used as an internal art that is for the cultivation of higher spiritual consciousness and even enlightenment.
There are inherently potential problems with all forms of Qi Gong. The nature of Qi Gong in general is to raise the Yang Qi, that is the motive or metabolic aspect of one’s “ bio-energy” ( as opposed to Yin which is the quiescent and substantial aspect of ones “bio-energy”). Yang Qi is brought up in the body either by increasing the actual amount of Yang Qi or by bringing Qi from the lower part of the body to the upper part. The problem with an overabundance of Yang in the body is that Yang Qi is heat and an overabundance of heat in the body can cause; headaches, dizziness, a propensity to anger and aggression. Excess Yang Qi eventually leads to over consumption of yin fluids which in turn generates more heat and can lead to psychosis, stroke and eventual death. This is especially problematic with the continued use of martial Qi Gongs.
One drawback to Qi Gong as a vehicle to spiritual cultivation is similar, the novice tends to become so enamored of the art that too much time is spent in practice and again an overabundance of Yang Qi causes the same excess heat symptoms of headache, dizziness and visual distortion. Eventually the practitioner can become so excessively Yang in nature that a condition develops that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association labels “Qi Gong Psychosis”.
Another problem with this type of practice is that it usually demands strict control of the breath. Whenever the natural breathing pattern is changed, the body’s entire physiology and psychology changes. Unless those changes are monitored closely by someone experienced in what changes can and should be expected and unless that person is able to intervene if the changes become pathological, there is the very real potential for permanent mental and physical damage.
The problems with the aforementioned Qi Gong types can be lessened if the student is under the expert and watchful eye of a very experienced teacher and the student is kept from “over practice”. Practice that is forced, too frequent or done with the wrong motivation (martial Qi Gong for the sole purpose of show or violence for instance), should be avoided at all costs. Even if these cautions are taken though, the practitioner needs to know this; long term practice of martial Qi Gongs will shorten the life span, period.
A third reason for Qi Gong practice is that of health maintenance. Health maintenance Qi Gong is divided into two categories; Qi Gong can be used to supplement and boost the Qi (bio-energy), of the body, or Qi Gong can be used to “dirrigate” or clear the channels and pathways through which the Qi flows.
Clearing Qi Gong is used only when the organ is hyper-functional or the meridian system is blocked. Using clearing on a weak organ system or on channels that are already free flowing can cause vital bio-energy to be drained away which in turn aggravates the deficit condition or weakens the meridian network.
One type of Chi Gong that balances clearing and supplementation is the Jade Dragon Qi Gong. Jade Dragon is a blended harmony of movements and meditations that supplement the five major organ systems while at the same time removing blockages from the entire meridian system. This simple, yet effective, Qi Gong was developed in China but refined in North America to fit more appropriately the average American’s diet and life-style. Most Qi Gongs were developed in rural China for rural Chinese, and without modification can be inappropriate of the typical North American’s needs.
Jade Dragon is the one system of Qi Going that I, as a Doctor of Chinese Medicine, can endorse for just about any body regardless of their medical pattern. The system is so balanced that in the fifteen years that I have been prescribing it to patients, I have never once had any negative feedback associated with it. It is also so easy to learn, that it is one of the few Qi Gong systems that can be taught via video. One to one instruction is best, and that goes for the Jade Dragon Qi Gong as well. But, the Jade Dragon video was developed by a doctor for his patients, and as such is quite unique in the realm Qi Gong video instruction.
Jade Dragon Qi Gong is available on DVD from Island Wellness, for information on purchasing this DVD, contact us at email@example.com.
Robert Kienitz, D.Ac.