Chi Gung, also known as Chi Kung, Qi Gong, Qijong or Taoist yoga, is an ancient exercise for health and longevity. Originating in China, early civilizations developed a system of spirituality and healing known as Taoism from which emerged Chi Gung. Chi means internal energy or ‘breath of life’. Gung refers to the cultivation of the chi, the genesis of the martial arts, in fact the movement, or ‘work’. Chi Gung is closely related to Tai-Chi which blends traditional martial arts techniques with Taoist internal breathing systems.
During the practice of Chi Gung, deep breathing, concentration, and the sequences of movements focus the body’s vital energy and transmits it to all the cells. Based on the same principles as acupuncture, Chi Gung improves energy flow through the meridians, balancing the system. Physical benefits include improved circulation, and greater agility and strength. Mental and spiritual benefits include serenity, emotional stability, improved memory and concentration, greater creativity, and consciousness awakening.
My own experience of Chi Gung has been with teachers from the International School of Chi Gung which has its headquarters in France, and schools in Madrid and Valencia. The style of Chi Gung, Zhi Neng Qi Gong, is closely intertwined with Chinese medicine. Laurence Junod Chevalier and Pierre-André Chevalier (known locally as Lorena y Pedro) teach in Sayalonga and Cómpeta, while Maribel Moreno Moyano teaches in the Algeciras-Sotogrande area. “Chi Gung is a great complement to my practice as an osteopath,” Pedro told me, and Maribel explained that although she has studied yoga, tai chi and dance, she finds Chi Gung so beguiling that teaching it is now her profession.
These excellent teachers have guided me through Chi Gung movements and sequences, and breathing techniques. The warm-up includes self-massage, undulations to eliminate blockages, and stretching to exercise the body’s 12 principal meridians. There are exercises particular to the different seasons and associated organs, for example the kidneys in winter. The Ba Duan Jin sequences focus on rooting the feet firmly to the earth, fundamental to Chi Gung. The Chi Gung ‘of the intelligence of the heart’ is achieved through breathing exercises and static positions, akin to yoga.
The star attraction of Chi Gung for me is the Toning, a sequence of eight sets of movements performed to soothing Chinese music. This flowing form is energetic, even though each set is executed slowly and repeated several times. The sets of movements have colourful titles such as ‘the shoulders touch the sun and the moon’, ‘the big parrot displays its wings’, ‘throw the dust in the direction of the wind’, and ‘the wise man strokes his beard’. Such links with ancient China add to Chi Gung’s charm and appeal as does the wonderful feeling of well-being that one experiences at the completion of the sequence.
Chi Gung classes:
Cómpeta 9.30am Friday – Fabrica
Sayalonga 9.15am Thursday
Tel Lorena y Pedro 952 03 70 13
Algeciras Monday, Wednesday, Friday – Asociación de Mujeres del Trigal, General Marina, 23
Tel Maribel 956 61 85 98
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