There comes a point in many students’ journeys when they want to create their own Qi Gong routines. After all, each person is unique and has their own set of wants and needs.
Lee’s classes not only help practitioners drop into a nourishing flow state with other students, but they also provide the opportunity to learn a vast variety of different exercises. These can be combined to create personalized routines that you can do whenever you want.
While following an experienced teacher like Lee is certainly a wonderful experience, there are also benefits to being your own guide. In a self-led routine, you’re able to really turn inward and attune yourself to what’s happening within, allowing you to focus on the exact practices that your body and mind need at the present moment.
Sometimes, a self-led routine means that you might linger a little longer on a heart-opening practice to cultivate love and compassion for a friend or family member. Or, perhaps your body will tell you that it wants some extra attention for cultivating liver Qi and the wood element. Whatever your individual needs are, they will come to light when your gaze is facing inward.
While a Qi Gong routine can be a completely organic and unstructured process, it can sometimes be helpful to keep some of the practice’s core principles in mind. These seven principles are present in most of Lee’s classes, and help to provide a foundational framework for working with energy.
Of course, there are countless practices you can choose from that all fall within this practice structure. The idea here is just to create an intentional progression of exercises to work with your Qi in the way that is most nourishing for you.
Here are the steps, or principles, that you can use to create your own routines. These principles underlie many of Lee’s classes:
- Breathwork: Your breath is the quickest source of energy that you have access to. Working with the breath is also one of the easiest ways to connect all parts of yourself in order to calm your mind and energize your body.
By starting your practice with some slow, deep breathing as you bring your attention to your practice, it helps you to prepare for the exercises that follow. The power of the breath makes it a valuable tool for athletics, yoga, meditation, and Qi Gong.
Wave Breathing is one exercise that Lee commonly uses at the beginning of his classes. It allows you to connect your awareness (mind) to different parts of your physical form (body) while bringing in nourishing oxygen (Qi) that flows throughout your entire being.
This is the first step to departing from your daily routine and embarking on your Qi Gong practice journey.
- Activation Exercises: The next principle is activation, which is the process of waking up the body’s energy and stepping into your potential power.
When you’re going through your daily routine, it can be easy for your energy to become dormant within your body. Activation practices bring it to the surface so you have direct access to working with it.
The process of activating can feel positive because it quickly “turns on” parts of your body and mind that were previously not experiencing an abundant flow of Qi. Knocking on the Door of Life is one common activation practice in which you tap on the navel and lower back to awaken the energy in your Lower Tan Tien. Qi Massage is another practice that stimulates the meridians so Qi can flow more easily.
- Warm-Up Practices: Warm-up practices help to strengthen the body and further tap into the energy that is within. While activation exercises often involve tapping on various parts of the body, warm-ups typically engage your muscles and condition the body.
Moving the Body Like a River is one exercise that engages several muscle groups and builds strength.
- Stretching: Stretching plays an important role in both physical and emotional wellbeing. Stretching exercises lengthen your muscles and improve mobility, which allows you to enjoy the following practices more deeply. Also, it helps to clear emotional energy that can become lodged within you, it also creates spaciousness in the body.
Stretching exercises are often Yin, and they help to balance any Yang exercises that focus on strength. Together, Yin and Yang practices create balance and resiliency within your mind, emotions, and body.
- Flows: Once you’re Qi is engaged and you’ve created spaciousness in your body, it’s time to work with your internal energy.
In all of the previous exercises, you have been the one moving the Qi. In other words, you have been applying your own will power to affect the energy within you.
In flowing practices, you allow the Qi to move you. Instead of using your own volition to make something happen, you relax into the flow of energy that already exists inside your body. Flowing movements are the reason that Qi Gong is sometimes referred to as, “the art of effortless power.”
When you’re in flow, you’re moving with the energies of nature and the universe. There can be a feeling of oneness with the world around you that is deeply peaceful and calming.
The Five Element flows is a practice in which you connect with the energies of metal, water, wood, fire, and earth. By doing so, you can integrate the gifts within yourself that constantly surround you.
- Postures: Postures help you to further cultivate the energies you wish to experience. Generally, postures focus on the structure of your body and finding alignment with the energy of the natural world.
For example, gravity is a form of Earth Qi that all living beings must relate to. As a human, it’s important to align your body in such a way that it is in harmony with this worldly energy. If your spine is slouched, the misalignment will eventually lead to pain or health issues. On the other hand, if you practice sound alignment and posture, your bones and joints can stay healthy and vital.
Each of the Five Elements have a different posture to cultivate their respective Qi. By practicing each, you can ‘charge up’ with the energies that fuel your body.
- Meditation: Meditation is a great way to complete any Qi Gong practice.
After cultivating an abundance of nourishing Qi and bringing harmony within different parts of the body, you can then work with your mind to direct your energy in the way of choosing.
The Qi of your mind is very powerful for leading your emotions and body. By working with various meditations, you can use your intention to create experiences you wish you realize.
The Inner Smile is one meditation that combines attention and intention to cultivate joy and self-love. The Microcosmic Orbit is another that builds power and integrates each of your Three Treasures—physical or sexual energy, emotional energy, and spiritual awareness. This practice can be deeply healing and empowering in many ways.
Meditation can also be used to direct your entire being’s energy towards what you want to create in the external world. Whatever your intentions are in the present moment—whether it’s to find alignment with your higher purpose, heal your body, or cultivate emotional strength—meditations are a great way to help all parts of your being working together.
As mentioned, these principles can be applied to pretty much any set of Qi Gong exercises that you feel called to practice. This makes them easily adaptable to each person’s needs at any given moment.
While it’s always fun to create new Qi Gong exercises, it’s also nice to learn a rich variety of different practices that you can use whenever it feels right. Taking classes that are unique provides you with a wonderful opportunity to learn many different exercises.
Holden QiGong Video Class Subscription
Lee offers a qi gong monthly membership called: The Video Class Subscription.
The Video Class Subscription provides unique classes that you can enjoy from the comfort of your own home. They integrate all the principles we just discussed, and provide relevant practices that accompany the various seasons.
Being a Video Class Subscriber truly opens up a wealth of possibilities when it comes to the exercises that you can learn. Over time, you’ll be able to integrate a vast variety of different practices to suit your needs on any given day. Not to mention, there’s something really nice about being part of a community that practices together from all over the world.
Click on the banner below to learn more and start practicing today.
Written by Ian Drogin