Smile and say “qi!”

October 3, 2012

Chinese qi cultivation. image: healingocean.net

The other night, I took a qigong class with Master Yang Yang at The New York Open Center. It was a roomful of diverse folk who were looking for ways to alleviate the stress of everyday life. What we didn’t anticipate (or at least I didn’t), was an evening of joyful instruction, sprinkled with qigong exercises that relaxed and inspired. I came out a new woman.

Riding this inspiration, I’d like to answer some common questions. The first one is, “How do you pronounce the word Qi?” Well, it doesn’t exactly sound like the Q in Queen but more like the “ch” in cheese which is why with our boundless humor, holistic practitioners when taking photos together like to declare a cheerful, “qi!” Now that always makes a nice photo.

Up until now, I have been using “chi” in my writing for those not familiar with Chinese language phonetics. So today, I am making the big leap. I’m going to here on forward be using the correct spelling of qi. Look at that, we are slowing learning Chinese together!

Energy that we all possess. image: skagitacupuncture.com

Second question. “What is qi?” This is a lovely question and has an even lovelier answer. According to google definitions, it is “The circulating life force whose existence and properties are the basis of much Chinese philosophy and medicine.” Let me give you an example. You know those days that you feel beyond exhausted but some how you muster up the energy to do something you love. A craft project, a quick workout or a few minutes spent sitting quietly. You suddenly don’t feel tired anymore but your body has warmed up and you’re feeling grounded, almost energetically “fuller.” You just experienced your own personal qi cultivation. It’s what my work and most eastern and western practitioners’ work revolve around – getting individuals to their optimal qi levels so that they can live healthy lives.

Cultivating qi according to holistic practitioners should a person’s main goal. Master Yang Yang goes by a simple equation: Energy savings = Deposit – Withdrawal. Meaning we need to save our energy or qi as much as we can while depositing/cultivating more on a daily basis and withdrawing carefully. Things such as stress, insomnia and the like can be the culprits with over withdrawals.

What can you do to cultivate your qi today? Willing to try a qigong or taiji class? The NY Times has been talking about it for a while. I am working on improving my own daily qi practice. My winning equation has been Feng Shui, acupuncture and sitting meditation. I am now adding qigong to my repertoire and excited about its added benefits. Now it’s really time to say “qi!”

This Saturday, October 6th is National Qigong Day (yes it is!). Learn more about qigong at the National Qigong Association.

I love to hear your comments but unfortunately the comments section and newsletter link is not working. Hang tight – I hope to have it up and running in the next week or so!



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