The main arts I write about are Qigong, Yoga, Massage and Dance. These arts are the four approaches to healing and aspects of developing the mind, body and spirit. These four in a general sense being energy, massage, flexibility and movement. Once you can understand the simplicity of each and how to use them together, anyone can use them to affect healing and opening the body at an extremely expedited rate while reaping the benefits of each.
Yoga today is nice but what is the goal of practice? Strength, flexibility, feeling relaxed and meditative, getting that twisty pose. These are great but still, to what end? Asana (pose) based Yoga is truly only the preparatory phase of the main goal of Yoga; enlightenment or union with Brahma (God). That sounds great and all but is this really practical for the modern Yogi. Personally, for me enlightenment is moving through life feeling centered and comfortable in my body, relaxed, aligned and connected to spirit. This is the goal of my practice and I want to get there as fast as possible so I can learn and master other amazing things or to just live the rest of my life feeling great.
When you have a goal and practice towards it, making progress can be very motivating. My next question is what do you do once you do reach that goal? Do you make videos showing off your flexibility? Take pictures of your poses for instagram? Master every pose known to man? There is teaching but what of your journey. Typically the next step is long hours of meditation. But now you have a perfect or near perfect body, what to do with it? Well, now you can learn and master anything you want faster than ever or delve deeper into any of the four approaches. Qigong, healing arts, Yoga, dance or any sport, martial art, etc. Or practice the dance style Vortexing I developed and presented in the book Qiyoda: Qigong Yoga Dance.
You may be thinking, “that is so many arts how am I to practice them all as Yoga?” The key is understanding! Once you understand them, their purpose, approach to healing and the progression of practice, you will see how easily they come together as aspects of one practice. It all depends on the needs of your body and what you want to practice. All it takes is a little effort and there is plenty of time to practice them all. Once you have that understanding of each, you are already half way up the mountain. We might practice all our lives for this understanding and now it is yours. Why give it away so easily? Well truly this is only the beginning, what I am creating here are foundations in understanding for you to build your healing/Yoga practice on and expedite your mastery in whatever art you choose to pursue further. Why spend your whole life trying to get to this understanding when there is so much to learn, discover and experience after?
Overview of the 4 approaches
Qigong the pure form of Chi cultivation, is usually practiced in stillness as a meditation. When practiced with movement it becomes Dynamic Qigong. Tai Chi is Qigong melded with martial arts. Here you will learn to incorporate it into massage, Yoga and Dance. Thus in effect making these arts a Qigong practice. Yoga is already a Qigong practice but the aspect of energy cultivation and its understanding are nearly devoid in modern westernized Yoga. When it comes to healing, the mind is mostly the root of our pain and failure in life. Our thoughts affect our bodies, our lives and our Chi. Chi and mind are made of the same material but are separate, like a pregnant mother. Whatever she thinks and feels effects the baby. Truly if you think you are moving Chi. By learning to use and control Chi you are controlling the mind and by focusing it to heal and control the body you are building a positive mind body connection. What better meditation is there? Energy is the root of your practice and is malleable and blends immaculately with nearly all other arts. The next step is to work it out on the physical. This is where massage, stretching and movement come in.
The basic purpose of massage is to improve blood flow in the muscular system. Muscles tend to get stiff, stagnant, hardened and almost permanently engaged. Massage will soften, relax, move out stagnation and improve ones flexibility. By combining it with Chi, a person will be able to connect to these muscles which might seem to have a mind of their own, put the muscle into a healing mode, move energy, clear blockages, relax and open. This is also a great way to get in touch with your body, building awareness and creating that mind body connection. The next steps would be to lengthen the muscles if necessary and strengthen them.
Yoga as an Asana practice is basically the science of flexibility training that has been developed for thousands of years. Strength and flexibility go hand in hand when it comes to health and well-being. When Chi is incorporated it can expedite the opening of the body and create an incredible strength and power as well. Also having perfect form, posture and alignment of the body is of great benefit for living a strong and pain free life. The only thing is that Yoga is very static and angular, meaning that it is not strengthening in a full range of motion. You can be strong and flexible but your movement can be blocked, clumsy or weak in certain ways. Even though we may open the body and put it back into alignment, we will need to retrain or rehabilitate the body to move in that alignment. This is where movement comes in.
Movement has many benefits that Yoga can always provide. In general movement bring blood flow to the muscles, strengthens in a greater range of motion, strengthens the body in or for motion and can get to the places that sometimes Yoga can’t quite reach. Now how does one incorporate Chi? There is Dynamic Qigong or Tai Chi where you learn to move the body with Chi. This builds a greater mind body connection and cultivates Chi and power. Now, turn it into a dance and move in a spontaneous manner, this is where you start to connect to the creative. Also when working with energy, certain movements have an effect on the energy of another person or yourself. Once the movements and connected to the mind, one can use intention to affect healing or open themselves up to spiritual experience in the way a shaman might do. So here dance is not just a form of entertainment, it is a healing art that opens up your creativity and can lead to spiritual experience. And it feels really really cool when you do it! Especially the style I have created for you.
And there you have it, the four approaches to healing. Simple yet can become more complex when pursued to a greater extent. Now you may be thinking, where to start. Well I have written this in a way that moves in a certain progression of practice and approach. Start with the energetic and move through the physical from stillness to movement. But what really determines the course of our practice? It is you! everyone is different, lived different lives and has different bodies with different needs. This is why I propose the creation of your own personal practice. It is your body and life that guides your practice with the goal of centering and alignment in sight. It is up to you to determine what you need to get to that goal whether it be energetic, physical, emotional or even making changes to your life, behavior or the way we interact with people. This is where all aspects of your life become a Yoga practice. On the mat you do your heavy work, off the mat you try to hold your progress whether it be walking, sitting, moving or or emotionally. Cultivating a loving attitude, being positive and not acting out of negativity; things like that.
When it comes to the body and determining what it needs, you need a guide. Standing is a great start. We move through life mostly in a standing position and wouldn’t it be nice to just feel comfortable there. When we stand and feel our bodies with our hands or mind or even looking at it we will be able to determine what is the cause of our misalignment. This becomes the beginning of your Yoga journey. Then through the practice of Yoga and movement you will go deeper into your body discovering more. I the process of having your own practice you will discover and learn things in a way no one else can teach you. Why rob yourself of that experience by having someone else just put you through the motions? I’m not saying you can’t learn from other people because whether people are teaching you Yoga or just being a person in your life, they all have a lesson for you in some way. The true Guru does not just give you the answers, they guide you to find them for yourself. You may think this hypocritical of me to say as I give you all this but the thing is, there is so much to be learned and discovered that I want people to take all of this to the next level. I also want people to be able to heal themselves and understand something incredible about their own humanity and not spend a lifetime achieving it when they could spend a lifetime mastering it and taking it further.
So with a strong understanding and a few techniques you can build your own practice that will become an incredible journey of discovery that can lead to healing and further mastery. I am excited to see what all of you come up with in the future because this is only a foundation and only the beginning.