What is exercise

2022 Study Group – Teacher’s Comments – Week 1

The information provided in Week 1 is to encourage the student to investigate what is exercise, the various methods, and discover the appropriate practice for oneself. Study leads practice. The Spirit (Shen) leads the body (Jing).

Classically, Qigong is categorized as Internal soft and external hard but let us first examine the intent (Yi) behind our personal choice. If we are healthy, we may aspire to athletics. This is where we challenge our self to attaining higher levels or compete with others to develop superior abilities. Common examples are aerobic endurance and weight resistance.

The next category is therapeutic. This is exercise for healthy people and those also who are addressing chronic issues of physicality, mental limitations, and aging. Here athletics can still be pursued but clearly at a safer turned down level.

Finally, there is medical. This is commonly referred to as physical therapy. This is prescribed and overseen by a licensed medical practitioner. It is very important to make the appropriate choice and seek good instruction. Although we can self-medicate by ourselves, I would not recommend it. We can simply compound the habitual without an outside assessment to guide us.

Qigong is based on the theory of Taiji. This implies it includes both internal and external practice. Internal is the mind and organ systems of the body. External is the Frame: skin, fascia, muscle, ligament, tendon, connective tissue, and bone. Although the objective is to balance the two in practice, many people tend to gravitate toward one extreme or the other. For example, dynamic muscular sports can cause injuries and slow relaxed meditative pursuits may allow the body to atrophy. Simply stated, they are two different approaches that when learned correctly, complement each other, and can create a body and mind that is balanced and healthy.

Internal emphasizes slow, soft, and steady. External emphasizes fast, hard, and spontaneous. It is recommended to “Embrace yin, to support Yang”. In other words, begin with simple and easy, and do not progress until a greater refined skill manifests. Progressing too quickly is a common problem. The secret is daily mindful practice.

I recommend 15 minutes a day to start. If a student can do that every day for a month, increasing the time slowly is not a problem, but if a student is not willing to make this small-time commitment for themselves, practice is already bound to failure. Finally, it is advisable to practice quality over quantity. Start with one exercise. Add a second a week later. There is no rush. Each week quality will increase and benefit will manifest. We don’t have to do a lot to get a good benefit, we have to do exactly what is required. Refine your practice daily.