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Breath and Relaxation
Breath and relaxation are intricately involved one with the other. We have seen this in our yoga, felt the opening and release through breath in our stretches, worked with breath for release in Savasana, and even seen how to take this powerful tool into everyday life.
All the mind body modalities use breath. It is that powerful. Some include movement. When there is stillness within us – in body, mind, and spirit, our breathing is smooth, calm, relaxed.
Leaving yoga with the yogic thought that the truth is one, with the paths there many, let us turn to experience another beautiful and powerful modality, the practice and art of qigong. I love using the different modalities. Not only is mixing it up fun but we see how everything in life can be flexible. There is no one real hard core single solitary rule: what is good for you at the moment is what is good for you. Keep it simple. It’s not complicated. Allow yourself choice.
Relaxation through Qigong Movement and Breathing
I have learned a wonderful breathing practice from the visual and written works of qigong master, Kenneth Cohen. Having practiced yoga for 33 years, I find that qigong and yoga compliment one another. Each is looking to unlock the subtle beneath the dense. What has taken me some time to ingrain in myself is the very different use of the body. The movement in qigong is loose, free, and flowing. Everything seems bending, curved, round, with all joints released, never locked. Yoga, on the other hand, is angular. The movements follow one plane and joints are locked in place to protect them in the movement. Switching back and forth between these two modalities is good. Each has a gift for us.
Our Second Program for Relaxation
A Qigong Routine for Healthy Breathing
Followed by a Qigong Sequential Relaxation
The qigong routine which follows promotes relaxation through movement and breath. The way to practice is to allow the body to teach you, having your movement lead you in your breath. Don’t force the breath, don’t try to figure it. Move the body. Observe what you see in yourself. When you begin, your breath may be shallow, feel stuck. Once you’ve finished this second program and you begin to move back into your every day routines, you will find your body letting go. Muscles have a memory. We can remind them how to relax by working with them. The key is to be patient. You did not get this stressed and uncomfortable in just one moment. Getting back into a position of flow is a journey. The significant thing to remember is that in working with yourself, and the current condition within your physical body, you take the step you need to put you on the path to change. You will get there. You will relax. Be patient. Give yourself that permission.
Qigong focuses upon energy, the qi of life: qi in the body and qi in the universe. Qi is energy, so in qigong, the practitioner learns to gather, purify, circulate, and disperse energy. Though one does not need to understand or have a background in Chinese medicine to benefit from qigong, the qigong movements are rooted in the principles and philosophy contained therein. Both Kenneth S. Cohen and Dr. Yang, Jwing Ming, are wonderful sources of reading, each having printed, audio, visual, and web materials.
Let us now begin our program, learning qigong to help us relax.