What we teach
The exercises and forms we teach can be loosely gathered under the heading Qigong (also written Chi Gong or Chi Kung), an umbrella term for many diverse practices.
What is Qigong?
Qigong shares the same Daoist (or Taoist) philosophical roots as the more well known Taijiquan (T’ai Chi Chuan), and has its origins in Chinese antiquity. The primary aim of Qigong practice is to enhance the flow of Qi (vital energy) through the body, working within the same conceptual and physiological framework as acupuncture or shiatsu. It is usually translated as "energy work" and comprises exercises to mobilise the joints, special walking exercises and static meditations. Qigong forms are often inspired by nature and the movements of animals. They can also relate to the vital organs and to the Chinese Five Element theory.
There are both Taoist and Buddhist traditions of Qigong, as well as specialised medical and martial arts systems. The movements are generally slow, gentle and flowing, with an emphasis on moving from the centre of the body (the "dan tien") and often coordinated with the breath and with visualisation.
Who can do it?
Qigong is generally suitable for all ages and abilities. Our classes and workshops are open to both beginners and those with previous experience. Please contact us to discuss classes if you have any concerns about its compatibility with specific medical conditions, or feel free to come along to observe and see for yourself.
What will it do for me?
Regular Qigong practice can bring many benefits:
Improved organ function
Strengthened immune system
Improved sense of balance
Increased strength, energy and stamina
Inner stillness and peace of mind
What do I need to get started?
Qigong requires no special clothing or equipment. For comfort and ease of movement it is best to wear loose-fitting clothing and flat-soled shoes (such as plimsolls or 'kung fu' slippers) although you can also go barefoot.
What is Elemental Qigong?
In the Elemental Qigong class we very much follow the seasons and work with the Element for the time of year, based on the Chinese Five Element Theory (wu xing). We usually continue this theme in our workshops. Many of the forms are related to the movement of animals, as in the Animal Frolics, and this connects the work back to the earliest Chinese shamanic practices of pre-history. A class will generally include joint opening exercises, standing practice, Qigong walks and seated meditation. Our grounding in this practice is through the College of Elemental Chi Kung
What is Alchemy of Baguazhang?
Baguazhang is a martial art that is based on the eight trigrams (ba = 8, gua = trigram, zhang = palm). Alchemy of Baguazhang focuses on the energetic side, i.e. alchemical, rather than the martial, working with the five internal and nine external vessels (the five viscera and the combined six major joints and three cavities respectively). This may sound arcane and complicated but it's straightforward to follow and do in class. Fundamentally, it is a subset of qigong with a specific set of practices. The essence is “circle walking”. Our grounding in this practice is through Oleg Tcherne's INBI.
What is Daoist Qigong?
We use the name Daoist Qigong to differentiate this material from the Elemental Qigong. In the Daoist Qigong classes and workshops we focus on sets of seated and standing meditations that aim to open the body’s internal and external vessels and both soften and strengthen the body’s tissues. Daoist Qigong can serve as a practice in its own right or as preparation and support for Daoist Alchemy practice. Our grounding in this practice is through Oleg Tcherne's INBI.
What is Taijiquan?
Taijiquan (also spelt T’ai Chi Ch’uan, and often shortened to Tai Chi or Taiji) is usually thought of in the West as a soft, flowing, dance-like exercise. People are often surprised to learn that it is, in fact, a martial art, one of the so-called “internal” Chinese martial arts. Though it is not our intention to teach students to fight we do look at applications of the movements and postures as we learn them, this being the best way to understand and feel their intention and so correct our execution of them.