Do you ever feel sore, achy, or experience limited movement? How about fatigue? Last week, we discussed how Iron Shirt Qi Gong practices can help you to cultivate strength and vitality. Today, we’re going to expand on that conversation to explore some of Lee’s experiences, the way in which energy moves throughout the body, and the importance of taking care of all your connective tissues.
Lee’s Experience with Iron Shirt Qi Gong
Most of us know that Lee has dedicated his work to learning and teaching Qi Gong practices. He has studied on multiple continents and with countless instructors. He’s learned many specific practices from teachers who are masters in their respective areas. One of these practices is Iron Shirt Qi Gong.
Lee learned Iron Shirt Qi Gong from Mantak Chia in Thailand. In addition to studying directly under the esteemed master, Lee also helped him write a book on the subject called Nei Gong. Through that process, Lee gained a deep and intimate knowledge of the ancient art.
How Energy Moves Throughout the Body
Our health largely depends on how effortlessly our energy flows within us. Various Qi Gong practices focus on different techniques for cultivating and circulating Qi, as each is effective in different circumstances. In Iron Shirt Qi Gong, our focus is on pulsation. Understanding how pulsation works can help us to visualize the process during our Qi Gong practice.
Pulsation is a natural and essential process for the body. Even before we’re born, our hearts busily pump blood throughout all of the organs and elements within us. Each heartbeat represents a pulsation of energy within our blood vessels and arteries. As you probably know, when a doctor says “let’s check your pulse” that’s exactly what they’re referring too.
Pulsing isn’t specific to humans. If you watch a worm in the dirt you’ll notice that their movements are connected to the process of pulsation. Each contraction brings the back part of their body forward, while each expansion allows the front part to move forward another centimeter.
As we alluded to in the previous paragraph, each pulse has two parts: contraction and expansion. When your heart contracts it sends blood out into the rest of the body. When it expands, it receives blood into its chambers. Like all things in life, each pulse contains Yin and Yang energies. For the heart, the moment of receiving blood is Yin, while the moment of sending blood out is Yang. Each heartbeat reflects Yin and Yang working together to allow your life to continue.
Although the heart offers a very clear example of pulsation, there are countless ways in which energy flows throughout your body with the same process. One of these occurs in your ligaments and tendons.
Just as your heart contracts to squeeze blood, your ligaments and tendons contract to move muscles and bones. While you’re not always conscious of all your connective tissues, they’re constantly transferring energy with each movement of your body. This process reflects the beautiful way in which Qi circulates and flows. In Qi Gong, we seek to harness the laws of nature to elevate our beings. Therefore, Iron Shirt Qi Gong focuses on practices that help us pulse our Qi throughout the mind, body, and heart. Many of these practices include postures, although activation and flowing exercises are used as well.
Benefits of Iron Shirt Qi Gong
The benefits of practicing Iron Shirt Qi Gong are many. For athletes and those who enjoy exercise, strengthening your ligaments and tendons can help you prevent injuries. It’s well known that most physical exercise strengthens muscles much more quickly than their connective tissues. Therefore, if you lift weights or engage in physical activity regularly it doesn’t take long for your muscles to be able to overpower your ligaments and tendons. This is one of the reasons why football players with huge muscles can still get seriously injured by a small, wrong movement. This knowledge is extremely important in rock climbing, where climbers know that if you constantly push your limits your muscles will take you beyond the capacity of your ligaments and injury will inevitably ensue. Iron Shirt Qi Gong is one valuable step you can take to prevent serious injuries during vigorous exercise.
Even though traumatic injuries offer a clear indication that something is off, they aren’t the only signs that your body is out of balance. Some issues are slower to build but still create painful and prolonged effects on your joints. One common ailment is arthritis, which happens when the connection between bones is no longer healthy and well supported. Even if someone doesn’t have arthritis, it doesn’t mean they’re free from aches and pains. In all cases, we can each benefit from cultivating strong and supple connective tissues that allow greater mobility and a fluid Qi circulation.
Not only do healthy tendons and ligaments allow your body to flow more gracefully, but they also help to elevate your mind and emotions. By doing so, you can experience an increase in energy and vitality that impacts all aspects of your health and well being.
Iron Shirt Qi Gong practices primarily use eight specific postures to cultivate energy. Although traditionally these postures are done in a standing position, you can also do them in a sitting position as well. Like all Qi Gong practices, there’s no limit on who can learn them, and there’s always a version of the practice that will work for everyone. Also, Lee can happily offer suggestions for alternative positions or movements when a traditional practice doesn’t work with your body.
Iron Shirt Qi Gong II Workshop
On March 1st, Lee will be teaching a special workshop called Iron Shirt Qi Gong II. This workshop will teach exercises and practices to help you harness the pulsing energy of Qi and build strength in your tendons and ligaments. It also will be building on his popular proceeding workshop, Iron Shirt I. Therefore, it’s important to take that workshop first before registering for this one. Iron Shirt I is a wonderful opportunity to learn similar practices and set the foundation for Iron Shirt II. Iron Shirt I is an online course that you can do from the comfort of your own home.
Whether you’re a novice practitioner or Tier 2 Teacher, this workshop series is an amazing opportunity to learn a powerful, ancient practice that you can apply in your modern life. Check out the workshop page today to learn more and continue the journey.
By Ian Drogin