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Do you Gong?

Have you heard of Qigong? If like us it is something new, we hope that you enjoy discovering the ancient physical art form as much as Cynthia Vongai did when she interviewed Qigong veteran Jemma Rivera.

Qigong and it said, “Qigong will empower you to be more relaxed, smiling, joyful, and flowing in harmony with the Life Force… and will assist your authentic self to fulfill worldly needs and relations; feel the profound sexual pleasure of being a radiant, healthy body; express your unique virtues; complete your soul destiny; realise peace – experience eternal life flowing in this human body now.”

Q: How can one exercise achieve all the above mentioned results?
Jemma Rivera (JR):
Qigong means Qi exercise and Qi is what Japanese call Ki like in Aikido and is similar to what Hindus call Prana in Yoga and Greeks Pneuma. Qi is currently translated as Energy or Breath. Ancient Chinese had the intuition, a long time before modern scientists that our entire Universe is made of Qi, more or less condensed. Modern life, with all its complexity and the stress it causes, tends to cut ourselves from the present moment and therefore, from the natural connections we have with the energy that surrounds and fills ourselves.

Practicing Qigong is practicing how to relax and open your body and mind in order to exchange more fully with the Universe. The meditative exercises of Qigong with its softness, roundness and constant opening and closing of the body, combined with the presence of the mind helps to direct and balance one's own life force through the meridian energy channels of the body.
Through Qigong, the weak can overcome the strong (Tai Chi/Qigong Philosophy). The example often used is that of water overcoming rocks. One of the main qualities that we try to develop trough Qigong is therefore fluidity. This fluidity implies other qualities like quietness, relaxation, flexibility, coordination, roundness, softness and awareness. All the qualities listed above are cultivated during a form where the moves are linked in a continuous, slow, soft and round way.

With consistent practice, Qigong is the most important asset one can develop and the qualities of Qigong one can cultivate are: ‘surrender', ‘no struggle', ‘clear vision' and ‘letting go'. As there is no struggle, one is able to relax, both mentally and physically.

If the mental body is relaxed and peaceful, the physical body follows naturally and one doesn't have to be tense to surrender to Life and follow with grace and fluidity. Therefore, surrender leads paradoxically to a form of freedom. Being relaxed and quiet, one's vision becomes clearer and he becomes able to act on things intuitively.

AW: There are several types of Qigong, so which one do you practice and why?
Qigong practices can be classified as martial, medical or spiritual. All styles have three things in common: they all involve a posture, (whether moving or stationary), breathing techniques and mental focus. Some practices increase the Qi, others circulate it, use it to cleanse and heal the body, store it, or emit Qi to help heal others. Practices vary from the soft internal styles such as Tai Chi; to the external, vigorous styles such as Kung fu. However, the slow gentle movements of most Qigong forms can be easily adapted, even for the physically challenged and can be practiced by all age groups.

The forms of Qigong I practice and teach are the slow, gentle styles which help to increase and circulate the qi as well as cleanse and heal the body. For example, the Eight Pieces of Brocade, Tai Chi Qigong Shibashi and the Guigen Medical Qigong forms are for general health maintenance as well as help reduce stress, build stamina, increase vitality and enhance immune system. It's also been found to improve cardiovascular, respiratory, circulatory, lymphatic and digestive functions.

The Guigen Qigong was developed by Dr. Xu from the Xiyuan Hospital in Beijing, the largest Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital in China. Guigen Qigong is prescribed to the in and out patients at the Xiyuan Hospital as part of their therapy. I prefer these styles because they have greatly assisted my personal road to recovery from an illness years ago.

AW: How does Qigong differ from Tai Chi?
Qigong is a health exercise based on Traditional Chinese Medicine Theory. Its prime focus is to heal and promote health and long life. On the other hand, Tai Chi origins are as a fighting system and its moves were originally designed to maim and kill. Modern training tends to concentrate on the self defence aspects.

AW: How did you get involved with Qigong and how did you build up your skill set to instructor level?
As an actress in 1995 I landed a role as a private investigator in a TV series, and this role also required martial arts skills. Therefore I searched for a martial arts school with great reputation and had varied Chinese Arts training available. Whilst pursuing Kung Fu training at the school I also discovered Qigong. After considerable study I discovered that this ancient healing practice would assist my own recovery from an illness I had at the time. Only through consistent practice of Qigong, further studies with Masters in Australia and China I had been able to speed recovery from illness, maintain health and regain youthful vitality.

With guidance and encouragement from a Qigong master in Australia, I pursued my studies with other masters in China and gained accreditation with the World Medical Qigong Association in Beijing, China.

AW: According to Qigong, incorrect posture results in decreased or blocked energy flow, the unnecessary expenditure of energy, a decrease in stamina, and greater susceptibility to injury or illness. If this is the case how can your workshop help to correct this?
A Qigong/Tai Chi Philosophical classic. “When the lowest vertebrae are plumb and erect, the spirit of vitality reaches to the top of the head. When the top of the head is held as if suspended from above, the whole body feels light and agile.” Many factors can have an influence on incorrect posture, either from a family history of back problems, bad posture, excess body weight, exercise or lack thereof and muscular tension can all play a role.

The Qigong workshops will promote body awareness and assist in helping to correct the posture. Educate others of the spine playing an important role in promoting and maintaining ones health. The spinal column is a dynamic system that allows us the flexibility to move and it also protects the spinal cord as well as connecting the body and brain in order to keep the body functioning optimally.

Poor posture can limit the body's ability to get oxygen to the cells with poor breathing. Qigong practice and meditations focuses on correct breathing which will inevitably assist the spine in its work by keeping the bones, muscles, ligaments and discs of the spine performing optimally.

AW: If a participant has never exercised Qigong, what advice would you have for them in terms of what to expect when they attend one of your workshops?
: For any beginners to yoga, Qigong or Tai Chi, it is important to have no expectations of themselves. The ancient teachings are to bring us back to the present moment and hopefully experience its intentions of bringing the body, mind and breath as one.

The Qigong forms I will be teaching are highly recommended for the newcomer as well as the advanced student. These are Eight Pieces of Brocade, Shibashi and Guigen forms. These external Qigong movements help to stimulate the internal organs, by promoting the flow of internal energy; Qi.

We will also develop correct abdominal breathing and is most beneficial to help with any respiratory problems. I will also be guiding them through a yoga practice, meditation, breathing techniques and deep relaxation practice before bedtime.

I encourage participants to come with an open mind and ready to learn to relax and replenish themselves with posture & relaxation techniques, breathing practices, gentle movements, self massage, and meditation.

AW: It's been said that most of us breathe in a non-optimal way, how can this be corrected through Qigong?
Qi means vital force energy. Gong means pertaining to skill. Therefore Qigong means breathing exercise ‘to work the vital force energy', practicing with the breath and working with the energy of life. By increasing the intake of oxygen and improving its circulation, therapeutic exercise such as Qigong and yoga can assist in immune function. Since this happens through gradual movement, focused breathing and relaxation, these practices can be done by anyone. We learn to coordinate the breath with movement, increase lung capacity and the correct abdominal breathing.

AW: Most of us live very stressful lives. How can we regulate our minds when we practice Qigong?
People do Qigong to maintain health and heal their bodies, calm their minds and reconnect with their spirit. When these three aspects of our being are integrated, it encourages a positive outlook on life and helps eliminate harmful attitudes and behaviours. It also creates a balanced lifestyle, which brings greater harmony, stability and enjoyment.

We develop and cultivate these through the practice of movement and stillness. The meditative practice of directing one's own life force through the energy channels of the body allows us to harmonise with the energies around us. It also enables one to take personal responsibility to balance and harmonize ones energies, increasing health, vitality, and longevity as well as developing spiritual perception, serenity and awareness.

AW: How is Qigong designed to reduce stress and increase our awareness of the moment?
Western scientific research confirms that Qigong reduces hypertension and the incidence of falling in the aged population. One of the more important long term effects is that Qigong reestablishes the body/mind/ soul connection. As we are consciously aware of body/mind/soul connection we become aware of moment to moment as we learn to slow down, reduce the stress caused by complexities of life.

AW: How can it be used to enhance the functioning of your lymph system?
The body is protected by the lymphatic system. In Qigong, the rhythmic movements, deep breathing, and postures circulate the lymph, enhancing your immune function. Deepening the breath is the signal that stimulates the lymph system. The second factor that stimulates the lymph circulation is movement, the act of contracting and releasing your muscles – but the movement does not need to be vigorous to have a beneficial effect on the system. One of the reasons why gentle, therapeutic exercise such as Qigong is so effective is that it efficiently activates the lymph system.

Delivering immune cells to their sites of activity. The lymph is an important vehicle for the transport of immune forces and artillery, T cells and certain antibodies. Shifting out of the adrenaline mode. Research has found that Qigong, for example, tends to promote the ‘relaxation response'. This is a phase in which the body relaxes and rebuilds, shifting from adrenal hormone production during exertion or conflict to a rest and repair stage. In this mode, the body can produce the chemical messengers that call forth and activate immune cells.

AW: What makes your workshop and choice of location unique to other workshops on the market?
With 15 years of experience, the workshops I offer are unique because of my skills in yoga, meditation and qigong. I will be offering both as individual classes, as well as giving a hybrid class of yoga and qigong put together. The Guigen forms in particular are unique and not as widely taught by many teachers. The location, Huvafen Fushi, is the perfect place to offer optimum rest and repair from the hustle and bustle of the world with the world's first underwater spa. You can also enjoy extra healing modalities such as massage, naturopathy and more. As well as be assisted by world-class practitioners in the Wellness Industry and be surrounded by pristine beauty and luxury to help regain health and vitality.

AW: There have been claims that Qigong has offers alternatives to conventional medicine. Has this been proven and with which specific illnesses?
Qigong is a form of complementary medicine. It works well with other forms of therapy and should never be used as a substitute for necessary treatment by a physician. Both China and the US have hosted conferences for academic exchange of Qigong research. Qigong has been shown to improve posture and respiration, induce the relaxation response, cause favourable changes in blood chemistry, and improve self-awareness and concentration.

Research suggests that Qigong may be beneficial for asthma, arthritis, cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, headaches, pain, and a wide variety of common ailments. External Qi Healing is effective for the same range of illnesses as acupuncture.

To discover more about Jemma Rivera's Qigong Experience at Huvafen Fushi, please call +960 6644 222 or email to book your Qigong course.

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Source: Arabian Woman
Posted: 26/06/2008

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