Nine years ago Bianca just knew that she found her “thing”: Qi Gong – a way of exercising which is about re-connecting and balancing body, mind and soul. For Bianca it’s not about a sweaty workout, it’s more like re-energizing through becoming silent, awareness of the Qi and gentle moves. In this interview she explains the benefits of Qi Gong and provides three simple exercises that you can practice almost anywhere. Sounds interesting? Indeed! Pics: Peter Garmusch
What does your training routine look like?
My daily routine consists of at least 20 minutes of practice. On a good day it’s about 1-2 hours. I enjoy practicing early mornings after I wake up and in the evening before I go to bed. But there is also time for little exercises during the day.
Qi Gong — to be precise Silent Qi Gong — for everyone who’s not familiar with it, is working (= gong) with our vital energy (= Qi). It’s an ancient and holistic way of self-healing and self-care. It aims at balancing body, mind and soul. Through simple and meditative exercises you’re able to keep the Qi in flow, strengthen the body, calm the mind and preserve health.
Often you’ll find me sitting on my cushion practising Qi Gong exercises, but you won’t necessarily notice any movement of my body. The movement happens within the body, to be more precise. It’s the Qi, which is flowing. Once your Qi gets stronger it guides the movement of your body. You start to explore a difference between your intent to move the body or let it be moved by your Qi and just do nothing really.
It might sound complicated, but it’s all very simple. Everyone can do Qi Gong. It’s great for all sorts of situations in your everyday life and easy to integrate. Some of the exercises you can even practice in the office or on the commute.
How would you describe Qi Gong exercises?
Most of the exercises are practiced either in a sitting or standing position, or in movement. It’s about combining different postures and moving exercises. At first you start discovering your Qi by becoming aware of a certain flow or pulsation within you. Then you begin to gather Qi to nourish your body. The single pulsation turns into a steady stream. You want to make sure to keep your inner fire burning. In that sense you cultivate your Qi and the really interesting journey begins. If you’re more experienced you even can combine those exercises according to your specific needs on that day. For me, Qi Gong is uplifting and relaxing at the same time.
One style to explore more movement would be Taijiquan (which can also be practiced with a sword or a lance). The concept is more or less the same – the inner movement guides the outer moves. All together it feels harmonious, to me it’s some sort of sensation. Even when practising with a lance I’m totally calm and just experience the movement. Plus in the end I feel like I have more energy, not less.
I try to combine my Qi Gong practices with some kind of exercise before hand, as this helps me to activate my body. I’m talking of easy movement like going for a walk, riding my bike or even channelling my inner mermaid while swimming 😉
Favourite training place?
Most of the time I practice at home, either sitting on my pillow, standing or even moving a bit. I also attend seminars, where you exercise together with your teacher, or classes where you practice in a group. If you train with a lance or a sword it’s even very nice to go to the park, if the weather allows it. Enjoying Qi Gong in nature is very grounding and relieving.
How did you get into Qi Gong and your specific routine?
At the age of 22 a friend of mine told me about it. However, I was very sceptic, as I just couldn’t imagine how to benefit from this type of exercise. At this time I was practising yoga and thought that you need to sweat in order to exercise in the „right way“. To be honest, I wasn’t really content with myself at this point in my life. I was feeling totally unbalanced as if I was looking for something specific … but I didn’t know what it was. Then I gave Qi Gong a try – even after my first attempt I already could feel benefits. Not only was I at ease, but also uplifted. Needless to say, from then on I was „hooked“ and have been practicing ever since.
For how long have you been doing sports and how regular are you doing sports?
I started when I was 22 years old, one or two times a day, anything between 20 minutes or 1-2 hours.
I try to stay as consistent as possible with my practice. Though it is easy to find excuses not to, like a busy day or even a lack of self-discipline. There are also days where I don’t practice at all, which is frustrating at times, but also realistic. In the end it matters to keep going with joy and to build up my routine again.
What makes you do sports?
Qi Gong changes my whole day for the better, as I’m more capable to shift from regeneration phases, such as sleep, to activity-phases, such as work. It helps me to start my day with clarity, especially since I’m not a morning person. Vice versa in the evening, Qi Gong helps me to calm down and shut out daily duties and the like. Moreover, Qi Gong really improved my quality of sleep.
How do you stay motivated to keep going with your training and not give up?
I really feel like my Qi Gong practice helps me gather Qi and is therefor my energetic nourishment, which leads to a positive sense of life, more calmness and understanding.
All the exercises really have a lot of power as they are based on ancient wisdom. I really enjoy exploring this wisdom and I’m curious to learn more.
Thoughts before, during and after a training?
Before: I really should exercise, but there’s so much to do … stress! … I know I really want to, but …
During: all sorts of thoughts like: I need to go shopping, I need chocolate … stop … no thoughts, I should sit still … at a certain point my thoughts get calm, it’s just a matter of time 😉
After: ahhh … I feel really at ease, really great … that’s the time when a lot of new ideas and inspiration come about.
How does Qi Gong influence your daily life?
It influences my life in every possible way. Besides exercising, there are also concepts for nutrition (TCM, or herbs) as well as creating positive habits for your daily routines. These concepts help me to reduce complexity and to integrate practice in my daily life. I really love this holistic approach and that it’s all getting simple.
Would you say you are competitive: when it comes to sport? In general?
Good question. To be honest with myself, I’m competitive. I definitely can get nervous when someone is better than me. The good thing with Qi Gong is, that this is not relevant but there is also room for this emotion. In that sense it’s quite interesting to watch yourself change. I do practice the same exercises as my neighbour, but you can’t compare us. Nobody can do Qi Gong better than the other. Everyone exercises according to his/her own needs.
Is there anything positive or negative you would like to share?
Positive would definitely be that I was able to talk to friends and people close to me about Silent Qi Gong and made them curious. Some of them appreciated the practice so much, that they incorporated it into their lives too.
Another plus point is that it helps to sharpen the senses. I’m able to make decisions more thoughtfully after practise.
Negative would be that I can feel a bit grumpy when I haven’t practiced in a while. Might be because of laziness or a bad conscience. Or when I’m trying to urge an outcome of a certain exercise, but with all these angry emotions and my strong intention it’s not going anywhere. I try to accept these feelings as part of my practice. They show me I have to reconnect myself, check in on my emotional state and simply go on with my practice.
Could Qi Gong be the next big thing?
I would love to think so, as I know it would really help people to live to their full potential.
It’s not taught like the typical yoga class. You are really focusing only on yourself. Qi Gong is practising on your own, only with yourself. This is not scalable in proportions like a fitness trend. It touches the people that are engaging. This might be unusual and not easy to understand in the beginning, so I really hope you’ll try it out yourself.
How did the knowledge spread?
The Grand Master, who teaches Silent Qi Gong originally grew up in Bejing. He learned his wisdom about the „flow of the Qi“ from his family and many different Masters including Yoga-, Taiji- and Qi Gong-Teachers. Later in life he came to Munich to bring the knowledge to Europe and help people to benefit from Qi Gong. He started a centre and teaching. It was the right time and the right place. People really engaged and started attending classes at the centre. It was such a success, that he even started training new teachers. Plus, many beautiful projects came into being.
I just finished my basic education in Munich and I’m an official Qi Gong teacher myself now. I’m really looking forward to pass on some exercises and knowledge.
What was your most memorable moment?
My most memorable moment was definitely when I attended my first Qi Gong Lesson at the age of 22 at my teachers class in Vienna, who taught me passionate about Qi Gong. He also attended teaching in Munich and became a Grand Master himself. I instantly felt like I belonged and I remember being really happy.
If you weren’t into sports what would you be doing instead?
I really feel like I found my „thing“. Nowhere else am I able to experience uplifting and relaxing sensations, movement and silence, focus on the inward and the outward at the same time the way I do with Qi Gong. So I just can’t imagine doing anything else.
Qi Gong always and everywhere?
Qi Gong is open to everyone. No matter how old or young you are or where you’re coming from: you don’t need any prior knowledge. Just start out with the help of a teacher.
You can practice it everywhere. One of my colleagues told me, she feels like she’s exercising all the time, that’s why she’s constantly in a good Qi-mood. Sounds good to me 😉 I really feel like this is a good advice as you can use for example you’re lunch break to throw in some exercises, or even use some spare moments in a meeting, when you feel for example tension arising …
I saw people of all of ages, from kids to elder people practicing … most important in my opinion is that you keep light and motivated in your heart and surround yourself with like-minded people, this will fire you up even more.
Any exercises you would recommend?
I would start with going for a refreshing walk in the evening, instead of chilling on the coach. This might not sound like a Qi Gong exercise, but it helps you recharge after a long day and to reconnect with your self – as a first step to experiencing your own Qi again.
Another one I would recommend will guide you to a relieved and good mood. It’s also called „Laughing with your Heart“ just gently focus on the point of your forehead, between the eyes. Do you feel tension? Does it feel relaxed? Try to imagine the tension melting away, inside and outside. For some people an image might be helpful, so they picture some curtains lifting up, or warmth arising. Imagine a smile between your eyebrows and just feel it melt down your face and head and further down your whole body. Do you feel a little lighter yet? Don’t forget it’s all quite simple.
To start with Qi Gong it’s also very good to get to know the internal space of your body. However, not in an anatomical or scientific way. Again use your imagination and visualize a little see-through ball inside your underbelly, like a little bubble. Remember about keeping the fire inside of you alive?
Try to explore the Dantian (=energy field) of your underbelly. How does it feel, is it warm? Can you swap the bubble’s size for example from a golf ball to a tennisball and back again? The Dantian is the ultimate Qi reservoir. Just stay with it for a while and get to know it a little.
A good imagination might be helpful at the beginning, but will loose its importance as you proceed with your practice. There’s nothing much to it really.
In five key words: What are the best things about your training you want to share with the readers?
Healing movement, self-cultivation, creativity, spirituality and joy
Your favourite motivational quote?
Practice, practice, practice. The path is created while walking.
More about Bianca on biancataschl.com