SOMETIMES WE MY think we are healthy, but we are really not. For instance, if you think your Qi is strong, try standing in a relaxed posture, with knees slightly bent for ten minutes. If you feel tired after only a few minutes, then it means your bones are weak, and it also means your Qi is weak. When we do Qigong, we strengthen the body from the inside out. We make our heart, lungs, spleen, kidneys and liver strong by gathering fresh Qi to feed them.
When your body is full of Qi, it is stored in the marrow in the bones and stays there like a reserve for when the body needs it. Someone who has good Qi is like a strong, healthy tree. As the tree trunk becomes thicker, the tree gets stronger. You cannot have beautiful, shiny leaves but a weak trunk. The trunk is like our bones, the leaves are like our skin and hair, and the roots are like our legs. Everything is connected and nothing is individual and separate.
So you should not forget that to be healthy, your Qigong exercises must include relaxation, good coordination and also fitness. This will make not only your body healthy, but also your thinking, and this is very important. The following exercises cover both body and mind, and meditation is covered in Chapter 12.
Notes on practising
In the beginning, you should learn and practise each movement in order, and practise this way for a few weeks. The best method is to read all of the movement descriptions and match them to the pictures. Then fully read about the breathing, concentration, background and benefits as this will help you understand more about using the right emphasis for the movement. Once you have done this, you are ready to try the movement.
My suggestion is to not learn more than three movements in one session, doing a minimum of ten or twelve repetitions of each. However, most people like the movements so much that they enjoy doing more. You should take your time to practise the new movements for a few days, until you can do them without referring back to the book. This will help you to understand the movements and to get the right energy and gain the most health benefit. If you try to rush and learn the movements all at once, you may confuse yourself.
I would suggest that in the beginning you practise the movements in the order presented. When you practise all of the movements in order, this will help build up a proper foundation, going from proper posture, relaxation, flexibility and coordination. When you are familiar with all the exercises, you can choose your favourites or the individual ones which will help with a particular health problem. (See Appendix I for a chart of illnesses/health problems matched with the appropriate exercise.)
If you can set aside the same time every day to do your practise, such as morning, afternoon or evening, this will help you to develop a routine. It is human nature to be a bit lazy, but if you want to have good results, you should still try to practise, even for just five or ten minutes a day.
You will find that even after a few minutes you will start to enjoy yourself and feel better.
When you have completely finished with all of your exercises and are ready to do your Qigong meditation, you should then do a finishing movement called Shou Gong. This movement is described in Chapter 12, in the section on meditation (page 116). Shou Gong is only done when you are finished with your practise, not between each movement. Otherwise it will interrupt the energy. Having a good ending is even more important than having a good beginning, because every ending is just a new beginning.
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