Quigong, technically know as Tai Chi Quigong is based on animal work just as regular Tai Chi. However, the animals that are imitated in these exercises are “warrior animals” and the positions you do imitate them as they would move in a shamanic warrior dance. Unlike Tai Chi, Quigong is a martial art.
One of its main principles is also to learn how to harness the energy of an enemy and have him do himself in by practicing the Law of No Resistance.
Qui means breath and Gong means “dedicated practice” so of course like ordinary Tai Chi this discipline has to do with breathing. It is a generic also in the way it aspires to connect the human through the divine through the use of controlled breathing.
Tai Chi Quigong is rumoured to have been around for about 500 years and is based on the impersonation of animal characters during shamanic dances designed to protect warriors who were at war or hunting. About 1800 years ago, a famous Chinese doctor, Hua To, put together “The Five Animal Frolics” which is what Quigong is based on.
The Five Animal Frolics was created to help people gain more flexibility in their bodies as they get older and to move with purpose and deliberation. It was also designed to correct the way the energy flows in the twelve meridians. These are the same energy pathways that are used in the healing art of acupuncture.
When you perform Tai Chi Quigong you are manipulating your energy centers so that they become open, vitalized and work more effectively. Quigong focuses even more on your breathing than ordinary Tai Chi does. Breathing from the abdomen is emphasized to help the lymph system clean itself out.
Quigong also helps wake up parts of the body that may have fallen into disuse. Blood is restored to all of the muscle groups and general body awareness is greatly increased as is flexibility and strength. It is more vigorous than traditional Tai Chi and it raises your heart rate.
It also helps an individual get rid of “monkey mind”. This is the mind that won’t stop inventing, creating delusions and acting on wrongful beliefs..
One of the healthier aspects of Quigong is that it can be described as a communal dance. This is because you will almost always be performing these routines in a class with others. This is very healing in itself as bonding with human beings in rhythm and breath is one of the very oldest spiritual and medicinal rituals in the world.
Tai Chi is historically a form of animal work that is based on animals in nature. As in yoga, many of the postures are based on the stances that animals take. In the twelfth century there was a master named Chang San-Feng. Chang is said to have observed five animals that are also cornerstone animals in feng shui- the-tiger, dragon, leopard, snake, and crane–and then rated them in terms of their dominance. He concluded that the snake and the crane, who find ironic strength in their ability to yield, bend or escape through the air, were the two most powerful creatures. This is why movements in Tai Chi have such poetic names as “White Crane Spreads Its Wings.”
The result of Chang’s meditations upon the movements of both real and archetypal animals was a set of exercises with postures that took the body of the human through a graceful series of movements that mimic everything from submission to evasion to intimidation. The aggression in some of the postures is why some people think Tai Chi is militant in origin when actually the exercises were created to add some yang (relaxation and open heart) to the yin lifestyle (rigid and restricted) of ancient Chinese shoulders.
No matter how perfectly you are accomplishing the Tai Chi movements and postures your effort is all for nothing if you are not breathing properly while doing them. In addition to moving your limbs you must also breathe out as you go into each movement. There is no huffing and puffing allowed in Tai Chi. These are the same type of deep breaths that you were taught to do in Yoga or Meditation classes. These deep healing breaths help calm and center you as well as massage your internal organs, help your cells get rid of toxins and calm and soothe the mind.
Of course tai chi is more than just a series of perfectly executed postures. Perfection is not the aim of Tai Chi. It is getting from posture to posture that is most important. It is more about improvement at your own pace. Each movement must be flow into the next and the movements are not to be rushed. They are to be performed at a gentle, graceful pace so that one movement flows naturally into another, like the movement of water. Doing these movements with a crowd also helps you to connect to group mind and be in sync with others. In essence it teaches you to go with the flow!
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