Internal Training: Qigong
Qigong is the process by which one can cultivate the energy of qi throughout ones body. Qigong is normally a set of movements designed to be fluidly practiced along with the alignment of deep breathing to ones Dantian. By practicing qigong, one can develop better circulation, build bodily communication, become more internally aware, and generally become healthier and more emotionally balanced.
To begin a qigong practice, only basic body coordination is required, as qigong is initially used to build awareness and flexibility of the body. The movements are relaxing and slow to better aid the internal circulation of the bodies blood and qi. During qigong practice, in order to build more internal awareness, one should not let their mind wander too far. Instead focus should be paid towards breathing and correcting posture. Because qigong does not immediately require large amounts of physical energy, it is a great practice to slowly build a stronger body for all ages. Through practice one can also open and strengthen respiratory, cardiovascular, digestive and meridian channels of the body.
Five Animals Qigong
The benefits of a qigong practice can be vast. Overall they work to maintain a healthy body and mind while expelling toxins and unhealthy qi. With the composite training of internal and external qigong, one can begin to attain a better understanding and balance with the health of their body. In the end, the practitioner is left revitalized, stable, and in a more relaxed state. On a deeper level, qigong can be used to balance emotions and rid the mind of unhealthy habits. By attaining internal awareness one can begin to understand their own weaknesses and strengths and eventually use the full potential of their mind and body in harmony to attain longevity in a cleaner and calmer existence.
Through the Ways of Wudang and within the teachings of the San Feng Lineage, there are a few different qigong practices taught. However, the Five Animals Qigong (五行气功) is the specialized practice that encompasses all of the main principles listed above. This is the set that is taught at all levels. Beginners in the arts learn this set to complement their ongoing practice and adept practitioners use it to improve and maintain their self cultivation. To read an article with more about Five Animals Qigong in detail, click here.
Ba Duan Jin
Another qigong system taught through the Ways is the Wudang San Feng Pai's version of the famous Ba Duan Jin (八段锦), or Eight Pieces of Brocade. Ba Duan Jin is one of the most well known qigong sets and it is designed as a medical qigong to improve the health of the practitioner. It is much more simple when compared to the more rigorous movements of the Five Animals Qigong and it is often used as a rehabilitative type qigong. While Ba Duan Jin may initially focus more on these structural capacities of the body, it does a close history with many deeper aspects of practice and self cultivation. For example, there is a seated version of Ba Duan Jin that focuses more on opening the meridians and deep meditation practices.
In addition to these two qigong sets there are other practices designed to improve upon the subtle body of the internal system. The practices of Zhan Zhuang (站桩, standing meditation) and Yun Shou (云手, cloud hands) are both introductory methods used to align the body and begin building a more sensitive awareness within the body.
There are a few other sets that fit under the umbrella of a qigong program. There are also the practices of Wu Qin Xi (五禽戲, five animal frolics) and He Xing Zhuang (鹤行桩, crane standing meditation). Each one of these practices covers specific movements and a unique approach to a qigong perspective.
The "soft" styles within the internal system of qigong are appropriate for all practitioners looking to go deeper into their individual training. While they may be more difficult to begin with without any experience with the external aspects of the San Feng Pai system, these qigong sets can be very beneficial to those looking for a soft practice to alleviate joint pain, align the body, improve balance, and much more.