Frequently Asked Questions
What is Qigong?
Qigong is a fundamental pillar of Chinese medicine. It is classed as a form of internal exercise. Internal exercise is any combination of considered movements with breath and mental engagement, another example would be yoga. Qigong is, quite simply, the ultimate self-healing technique. By learning to manipulate qi around the body, you rejuvenate and energise, lower the heart rate and blood pressure and support the immune system. If you’ve done a martial art or tai chi, the wide stance and relaxed, flowing movements of qigong may be familiar. It was invented as ‘dynamic meditation’, to allow Taoist masters to keep their muscles relaxed, supple and strong after hours of sitting meditation but without breaking their focus. Its roots can be traced as far back as 8000 years . By the 3rd century BCE, this practice had crystallised into the beginnings of qigong as it is today. Despite its ancient roots, it’s as relevant to modern life as it has been for millennia.
What is the difference between Tai Chi and Qigong?
To sum it up, if qigong is the grandmother, kung fu is the parent and tai chi is the child. Tai chi is a stylised martial arts form of qigong, rumoured to have been created by a Taoist master called Zhang Sanfeng in the 14th century. The story goes that he saw a magpie and a snake fighting in the forest and was inspired by the contradictory yet balanced nature of their battle. To a beginner, the similarities between the two will stand out more than the differences. Both tai chi and qigong focus on using breath, body movement and visualisation to move qi around the body. But while each tai chi move can theoretically be used for self-defence, most qigong motions exist solely for the purpose of meditation, health and healing. And while tai chi is typically a highly choreographed and complex series of movements, qigong is easier to learn, a more repetitive practice that you can easily do at home. This makes it ideal as an effective self-treatment. There are a lot of studies that show tai chi and qigong are incredible for health; the two are often used interchangeably in research. They have been shown to have a positive effect on muscle strength, flexibility and balance, to improve fitness and the endurance levels of the heart and lungs. One 2013 study concluded that tai chi was nearly as effective as jogging at lowering the risk of death! The Chinese government has recently adopted tai chi as a solution to help cut stress in the workplace.
What is the difference between other types of exercise and Qigong?
Many people exercise to improve the way they look or perhaps improving the health of your heart and lungs, but Chinese medicine says that while aerobic exercise does work those organs, it simultaneously taxes them. Qigong, on the other hand, works the muscles and nourishes all of the organs – but, crucially, doesn’t strain them. It boosts your oxygen uptake and circulation, but while your body is relaxed. This builds your capacity to store and generate your reserves of qi.
How might Qigong benefit your health and wellbeing?
Qigong has been shown in research studies to offer the following benefits: • Reduces anxiety • Reduces cortisol and stress hormones • Reduces systemic inflammation • Improves immune function • Improves sleep quality • Reduction in blood pressure • Supports cardiovascular health • Promotes relaxation • Improves mood • Positive effects on bone health • Pain reduction for Arthritis, neck pain and Fibromyalgia • Improves cognitive function
Do you have to be in great shape to start Qigong?
No - it’s suitable for everyone. According to Chinese medicine, your organs control the entire health of your body. This includes, amongst other things, your muscles, fascia, bones, body fat and any tendency towards weight imbalance. Look after your organs and you’ll see a knock-on positive effect on all of your health. Qigong will give you stamina without stress, tone without pain. As you do the exercises, you’re balancing the whole body and, because they’re so gentle, they also suit older people, those recovering from illness and anyone else with physical or energetic limitations. Just because it’s gentle, don’t underestimate its power and efficacy.
How do you prepare for Qigong?
For the class, please make sure you are wearing relaxed, loose fitting clothing. You can go barefoot or wear comfortable flat soled shoes. You don't need any equipment, just room to move your body.4 If you can be outside for the sessions that would be great. If not, please have a door or window open to let some fresh air in.
How often should you practice Qigong?
You can practice as much or as little as you like, but the more you practice, the more beneficial it will be! Many people like to fit 20 minutes into their day every morning - getting your Qi flowing is a great way to start the day.
Where does your Qigong knowledge come from?
Long White Cloud Qigong was founded by acclaimed Qigong master John Munro and rooted in the lineage of the Wah Family System of Qigong, encompassing deep traditional Qigong knowledge alongside modern application and relevance.
Are there any reasons why qigong might not be suitable for me?
No, it really is suitable for everyone, you can even do a form of it if you are bed bound. As with any new exercise, if you’re concerned, you could ask your GP before you start. But just start gently and go at your own pace.
What is meditation?
Meditation is an ancient wellness practice that focuses on training awareness, attention, and compassion. In recent years, research has found that meditation can reduce stress and anxiety, improve focus and concentration, and increase feelings of calm and relaxation.
Where should I meditate?
Find a cosy, comfortable place where you’re not likely to be interrupted.
What should I wear to meditate?
You can wear whatever you like so long as you’re comfortable. We recommend loose, warm clothes that don’t dig in.
What if I can’t meditate?
We promise you, you can. The real purpose of meditation is to unite rather than still the mind and body. We don’t try to control the mind because even though it’s the nature of the mind to be active, it is also the nature of the mind to be still, given the opportunity.
How is this type of meditation different?
In Chinese medicine we focus on the connection between the mind and the body, using a combination of breathwork, acupressure massage and meditation to help you achieve true relaxation.
How can I find the time to meditate?
The great thing about meditation is a soon as you’ve learnt the basics, you can begin by practicing for five or ten minutes each day.
Do I need to sit cross legged?
It’s not that important. Just sit, and pay attention to your breath. You can sit wherever is comfortable, in whatever form is comfortable.
What happens to me when I meditate?
Our brains stop processing information as actively as they normally would. Your Frontal lobe is the most highly evolved part of the brain, responsible for reasoning, planning, emotions and awareness. During meditation, the frontal cortex tends to go offline and take a break.
Why is breath work important?
Our brain uses 20-25% of our oxygen supply as nourishment. But in today’s world with pollution, air-conditioned environments and less exercise, we are just not getting what we need. Through breathwork, we not only restore our brain by giving it what it truly craves, but we also nourish our entire body.
How long will it take to see any benefits?
Some will notice the benefits straight away, with others it will take longer. But this is just a difference in perception, you are gaining benefits from your very first meditation or breath work session.