How to start your qigong journey

Member Sue Dunham set us some advice:

If you’re here then qigong (pronounced chee gung) has probably already come onto your radar. You may want to start trying it NOW. Read on before leaping into action!

For avoidance of doubt, the simplest translation of qigong is energy work. A more helpful ‘translation’ might be Chinese exercise for health. It’s less known than the more popular Tai Chi Chuan (a martial art) but qigong is something that you could consider if your primary interest is in health, mental or physical.

Many come to qigong via Tai Chi Chuan, liking the repetitive exercises and meditations that are typical of qigong they have found embedded in their Tai Chi class. Others pick up on the scant media coverage: qigong recently featured – briefly – on Countryfile.

Or perhaps it has been recommended by your acupuncturist or an enlightened health professional often to help you manage the stress of a chronic condition.
However you come to qigong, please be assured that you will be welcomed and that a good instructor will be able to teach you within your health limitations. Much qigong can be done seated, completely without compromise. I have seen students with Dementia and Downs syndrome embraced in classes.

So how do you start your qigong journey?

First, be clear on what you want.

• Classes for your own benefit
• Classes that lead to a qualification, possibly to teaching

Second, where do you wish to learn

  • Online
  • Locally
  • Or might you be prepared to be ‘geographically and financially inconvenienced’ as Leonard Cohen said!

Third, what type of person are you?

  • I’ll be happy with just a basic understanding, following along in a class will be fine
  • I’ll probably want to know a bit more
  • I’m willing to train independently
  • I’m interested in exploring the meditation and deeper energetic work
  • I really want to study with the best teacher in this country/in the world

I know students of all these types and each has their own character and life situation that drives their journey. Most students fall into the first and second categories.

It is only worth considering how to find a suitable teacher, in my opinion, if you have clarity on the above 3 questions.

There is a quote from the Dao De Jing ‘A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step’. Here are a few pointers to help you with that first step:

  • Qigong teaching is not regulated so you need to use your own judgement or follow a recommendation
  • You will not be ‘taught’ by free online videos.
  • Find out whether there is a local school or teacher
  • You will probably need to try a class, online or in person, to see if it is right for you
  • We all had to start once so there is no need to feel uncomfortable or inadequate.
  • Instead, focus on absorbing the atmosphere and protocol observed in the class. There may, for example, be no opportunity to ask questions – and yet somehow they will be answered.

Qigong is a challenging subject which will provide you with a life long interest so good luck with finding a school and teacher that is right for you!

Featured Image: Photo by Rade Šaptović on Unsplash Temple of Heaven, Dongcheng, Beijing, China