Interested in trying Qigong but have no idea what to expect?

Interested in trying Qigong, but have no idea what to expect?  Qigong (pronounced chee-gong) is like a moving meditation that uses posture, movement, breathing, and focus to help participants connect mind and body.  All sessions are held outside in local parks (except in dangerous weather) and are designed to connect the natural rhythm of human health to Nature around us. 

What do I wear?

“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.”

The key is comfort! 

I recommend wearing clothes that are comfortable to move in and clothes that keep you comfortable in the weather. Here are a few things I’ve found helpful for practicing qigong in different kinds of weather:

Rain

A ballcap keeps rain off your face and hair, paired with a loose rain jacket that has a hood and you will stay mostly dry.  I also recommend quick dry pants and boots…or consider going barefoot in the grass!  If your hands tend to be painful when cold, waterproof mittens are an easy solution.

Cold

The most important cold-weather items are a hat, something to keep your neck warm (I use neck gaiter because it can be pulled up over your nose and mouth to keep your breath warm), and something to keep your feet warm (I use wool liners in the bottom of my shoes and wool socks).  

I also recommend layers of loose clothing that you can move easily in and mittens instead of gloves.

Heat

Light colored, loose cotton shirt and loose pants or skirt will allow air to move around your skin and reflect the heat of the sun.  A ballcap will keep sweat from running in your eyes while providing shade for your face. 

Wind

A ballcap will keep your hair and other things from blowing into your face, while glasses protect your eyes.  I also use a neck gaiter that can be pulled up to cover my mouth and nose to keep my breath steady.  Loose fitting long-sleeve shirt and pants will keep the air from drying out your skin.

Bugs

My personal nemesis!

Long sleeves and long pants sprayed with your choice of bug spray; wearing a ball cap sprayed with bug spray is helpful too.

Safety Tips

Please don’t leave valuables in your car.  I will have a spot where a few small items can be stored during our session.  The less you have to worry about, the more successful your Qigong session will be.

Skills and Equipment

Qigong doesn’t require any special skills (other than breathing) or equipment (other than your body).  That said, the entire session will be done standing. 

If you are unable to stand for 45 minutes or longer, I recommend you bring a folding chair.  All exercises can be modified for sitting. 

The only other equipment I recommend is a reusable water bottle filled with water (my top choices are filtered tap water or mineral water).

Frequently Asked Questions

Qigong (pronounced chee-gong) is an ancient Chinese practice that uses posture, movement, breathing, and focus to help people connect with their internal energy for wellness and vitality.

It’s a moving meditation that helps you center your mind and body to start your day full of energy, or to reduce stress and breathe deeply at the end of the day, or to shake loose negative thoughts and feelings.  Qigong is about relaxing and looking inwards so you can better understand your self – your health, what you want and who you are.  

Although Qigong is a gentle practice, it works your body in ways that may surprise you.  Many participants find strength, balance and renewed vigor after practicing Qigong, in addition to a myriad of other health benefits.

Qigong has been shown to provide many health benefits, such as reduced stress and increased energy.  

But Qigong isn’t math or grammar; there’s no one right answer, there’s no one right Way.  Qigong is a Way that travels in the general direction of wellness (a state of living) and health and well-being (states of being).  So Qigong is also an exploration—an exploration of yourself…your energy, your health, your thoughts, your beliefs, your well-being, and your Way.  

  • Wellness = the quality of state of [living] in good health especially as an actively sought goal (Merriam Webster)
  • Well-being = the state of being happy, healthy, or prosperous (Merriam Webster)
  • Health = the state of being sound in body, mind or spirit (Merriam Webster)

If you want to find your Way to wellness, Enroll in a session to give Qigong a try!

(Please note, there are some exercises that need to be avoided or adjusted for certain health circumstances.  Please let the Sherpa know if you have any health issues.)

There are “10-thousand” reasons (Qigong theory term for “many”) why Qigong is good for wellness, including these:

  • Reduces depression
  • Reduces stress
  • Lessens chronic fatigue
  • Boosts the immune response
  • Improves well-being of people with cancer
  • Improve balance
  • Improve blood pressure
  • Weight management

(References: American Journal of Health Promotion, International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, PubMed National Institute of Health and Cleveland Clinic)

Qigong is a root practice for many martial arts, including Tai Chi.   Qigong originated between 3000 and 5000 years ago, whereas Tai Chi originated only 800 years ago.  Qigong incorporates individual flowing movements repeated “without effort”, whereas Tai Chi uses a series of movements done in flowing succession that is then repeated

If you’re interested in a longer explanation, please read more on my teacher’s website at Holden Qigong.

Qigong was developed and practiced primarily to understand and work with your own internal life-force energy—your “Qi”.  But just as there are many Ways to use your energy, there are many Ways to practice Qigong.  

The three most common Ways are:

  • Medical – Qigong is one of the five tenets of Traditional Chinese Medicine
  • Martial 
  • Spiritual

So, yes, Qigong can be practiced as a martial art.

Immortal Tree Qigong sessions are designed specifically to help you learn how to listen to and feel your Qi.  Throughout sessions, principles from the medical, martial and spiritual aspects will be shared so that you can determine what resonates best for you. 

If you have a specific interest in one particular area, let your Sherpa know.

  • Qigong isn’t a religion; it’s a physical practice of moving your body based on Traditional Chinese Medicine principles.  That said, there are some spiritual aspects to Qigong.  If you’re interested in those, please let me know so I can share guidance about those when relevant.
  • Qigong isn’t a competition; it’s all about letting go and letting flow.  There are no belts, or tests, or awards.  We don’t “muscle through” or “push harder” because you only get the benefits of Qigong if you breathe deeply and relax.  Now relax more.  
  • Qigong doesn’t require any special skills (other than breathing) or equipment (other than your body).  That said, the entire session will be standing.  If you are unable to stand for 45 minutes or longer, I recommend you bring a folding chair.  All exercises can be modified for sitting.  
  • Qigong isn’t choreography.  There are no forms to learn, just Ways of moving your body. 
  • Qigong isn’t just for “old people.”  Qigong benefits all people regardless of age, gender, race, body size, socioeconomic status, athletic skill, and so on and so forth.  And regardless of your athletic ability, I PROMISE you will discover something new about your body from practicing Qigong.  

Just like any exploration, it’s helpful to have a guide—a Sherpa.  Sherpa are renowned for their skill as guides helping climbers scale the most challenging peaks in the most challenging mountain range in the world.  They don’t carry the climbers, and they rarely get their names in books or on accolades, but they know the lay of the land, the common obstacles and pitfalls, and how to read the signs of the Nature around them to safely guide others.  They know every climb and every climber is different.  The road to the top will never be the same Way twice.  So too with Qigong.

In Qigong theory, there are three forces at work in the world around us: 

  1. The Energy of the Universe—represented by the sun, the moon, the stars and the planets
  2. The Energy of the Earth—represented by the soil, the oceans, the rivers, the terrain, the rocks
  3. The Energy of “Conduit”—represented by everything that lives between, like trees … and humans

For those of you who are more comfortable with scientific terms, think of it this way.  The sun gives off light and heat (energy) which trees convert into energy through photosynthesis.  In addition, trees root deeply into the dirt where they absorb additional nutrients (created by the natural composting energy of the Earth) that then nourishes the tree and ostensibly improves it’s the quality of life.  Some even believe that trees never die, they are immortal.  

There’s no denying that trees are capable of living tremendously long healthy lives.  And so I have studied many theories and practices claiming to deliver long, healthy life.  But it was in studying and living with some of the healthiest, longest-lived people on Earth in one of the Blue Zones (Ikaria, Greece), I found the secret.

Here it is:  There is no one thing, no one Way that will make you healthy and well.  It’s the ten-thousand tiny things you do every day that support your specific needs that make the difference.  And the closer those ten-thousand things are to Nature, the healthier you’ll be.  

It was there I also understood the third force, because the energy of the sun is also converted by other plants that comprise the base of our entire food chain.  And those plants also absorb nutrients from the Earth, which we humans convert into energy for our bodies. “In turn, our energy produces “e-motion” or energy in motion.  “Emotion” has a loaded meaning, often negative.  But emotion comes from Latin meaning “to move,” or “to move out.”  Emotions not only move us, they impact the energy of those around us…like ripples. 

I believe that our power lies in these ripples, no matter how tiny.  I’ve witnessed the power of how tiny actions can create massive change in my own life.  So to become an Immortal Tree, to live a healthy live with vitality and wellness we will also be creating a better world for our children and seven generations from now.