Workshops

3 Treasures and Six Healing sounds - active set Qigong
6 week course
starts Friday 6 February
9.30 –11 am at Bangalow
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3 day Personalised Qigong Retreats
Lennox Head / Byron Bay
Northern NSW Australia
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Private groups / Individual
training in Qigong Tai Chi, Breath,
Posture and Meditation
in Lennox Head
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Tea training
Regular times for
Making & Tea Appreciation Sessions
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News and Resources

Upcoming News and Events

Emei Shan Temple

Recent events and links

You’ll find there is even more visuals happening on this website in the next month or so. Please return here to enjoy the array of photo slide shows of Qigong, the University of Tasmania Summer school Qigong mornings, places that have, or will be included in our Retreats and Trainings in China and Japan, along with Tea (Qi and Tea) events and trainings.

Dr Bisong Guo
In the last few years we’ve been fortunate for Bisong to come to the Byron Bay area for Medical Qigong trainings. Her weekend trainings promoted a space to totally relax into yourself, allowing your body, mind and spirit to heal and rejuvenate. Twice she also taught trainings in Guo Lin Walking Qigong. One of them with local Chinese Medicine practitioners Suzanne Rienits and Tony Graham.

For the foreseeable future, Bisong is now concentrating her time in the Northern hemisphere between the UK/ Europe and China. We will miss her stays here in the East of Australia.

For those of you who have read her book ‘Listen to your Body’ or enjoyed Qigong trainings and Tea with her, you can now stay informed of her upcoming events in Scotland by visiting www.shenfoundation.net

Ling Qi Institute

An Institute for the study of Oi Arts is beginning. The Ling Qi Institute will be a ‘not for profit’ (NFP) training centre providing Australian Higher Education Board accredited undergraduate and post graduate Qi Arts courses that will be underpinned by contemporary education and teaching practices.

Proposed courses of a Bachelor of Applied Oriental Health Science and Philosophy, a Graduate Diploma and a Masters by Research will be available internationally by a blended delivery system of online learning and residential. Students will be required to have adequate access to internet facilities and be able to attend residentials twice a year, initially proposed for Australia and Europe/UK.  This blended delivery system will enable tutors and students to engage in study and live in any country or time zone, while continuing to meet family and work commitments.

The studies offered by the Institute will promote cross-cultural communication and interaction by practising, interpreting and integrating Oriental traditional world-views of health, rehabilitation and wellness into contemporary lifestyles and contexts. The content of the studies will be respectful of, informed by and use the Daoist, Buddhist, and Confucian cultural traditions and principles of Qi cultivation.

The Institute will also be a repository of both general and specific Qi Arts information, and a place for mentor/ peer interaction and information exchange. Enquiry, research and development of initiatives and projects using Qi cultivating principles in a wide variety of settings will also be promoted.

The Ling Qi Institute is seeking Expressions of Interest in becoming Board members for both the Governing Board and the Academic Board. It is also seeking sponsorship or Benefactors. If you would like to know more about this unique project, please go to the Ling Qi Institute Web page.

Articles:
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1. Qigong practice tips: Observing the Breath to tell you about your posture by Suzanne Rienits

Your breath will always tell you whether your body is relaxed. Having a relaxed (sung) posture will allow your Qi to move unhindered.

Practice this exercise sitting on the edge of a chair with your feet flat on the floor shoulder width apart. Become aware of your sitting bones. Roll backwards on your sitting bones as if your body is going into a slouch. In your torso observe where you feel your breath comes in to. Next, slowly roll forward on your sitting bones and notice how your body straightens up with no effort. At some point you will feel where the breath comes naturally and easily down into your lower abdomen. Now continue on rolling forward on your sitting bones until you are exaggerating that you are ‘sitting up straight’ (shoulders back, chest forward…)  - when in fact you are holding your body in a forced tension. Notice where your breath comes in to. Now roll back to that easy breathing place, with your body upright and relaxed. Play with this rolling back and forward, then rocking from one buttock to the other to find a greater sense of where your physical center is, and when the breath just fills up the lower Dan Tien area easily by itself.

Use this awareness when beginning your standing and sitting Qigong stances.

2. Welcome to an article written by Anne de Champlain and Suzanne Rienits.

This information is derived from the book -The Way of Qigong by Kenneth Cohen. We have found it helpful to our students to have an overview of the different breathing types, and specifically a process that heightens ones’ awareness of where the breath and where your centre is in different situations. It opens a lot more choices in our life, when we are aware of what is happening inside. Enjoy!

The Four Aspects of Breathing and Breathing Types
Awareness of the breath is a constant feature of both active and passive Qigong. One of the goals of Qigong is to maintain a balance and efficiency of the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide of breathing so that the entire body receives the energy it needs.

Four aspects of breathing:

The first step is important to discover your usual breathing pattern. Check your breathing periodically to see whether your qigong practice is improving your habitual way of breathing. During a period of rest and quiet, try the following self-inquiry.
(Loosen your belt and wear loose comfortable clothes.)

1. How does the breath feel? Does it feel smooth or choppy, deep or shallow, clear or turbid (mucky), light or heavy, quiet or noisy, easy or difficult, healthy or diseased? Focus your attention to the subjective feelings and thoughts evoked by the breath. Images that rise spontaneously to consciousness are important indicators of the quality of the breath and Qi.

2. Where do you breathe? How does the breath enter and leave?
Where does it go to, how deep in the body? Can you feel it moving through the nostrils, down the trachea, in and out of the bronchi and lungs?
Does your breath create movement in your chest, abdomen, back or anywhere else? Can you feel the breath moving in your hands and feet?

3. Which part of the body moves with inhalation and exhalation? Does your chest open or close or move at all with inhalation? Does your abdomen move as you breathe? Place one hand on your chest and one on the abdomen and notice which hand rises or falls in response to inhalation and exhalation. If lying down, does the lower back seem to press into or release from the ground as you breathe? If you place two books, one of the left side of your chest and one on the right, can you find out if the two sides of the body expand and contracts with equal ease? What about the sternum (breastbone)?

4. What is your breathing rate? How many breaths do you take per minute? Measure this while you are calm and meditative.

At least once a week, go through these four steps. Perhaps write down your response in a Qigong Progress Journal. Once you are familiar with this enquiry, do it randomly in different situations or environments and notice what responses you get. As you progress, your next question might be along the lines of, ”What do I want to do with my breath?” and then in a relaxed manner direct your mind, posture and breathe to change your state.

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Types of Breathing:

In the following exercises, it is best to breathe only through the nose. The nose contains fine hairs and mucus that help trap and filter out dust, pollutants and germs. Also the mucus membranes contain a rich supply of capillaries and white blood cells which disinfect and destroy bacteria which gets trapped in it. The nose also acts as a humidifier which conditions (warms and humidify) air before it enters the windpipe and lungs.

Nose breathing also encourages meditative awareness.

Natural Breathing: Qigong relies on natural respiration. Natural breathing is also called abdominal or diaphragmatic respiration. While inhaling, the diaphragm muscle contracts and moves downwards, pushing the abdomen out. While exhaling, the diaphragm relaxes upward, the abdomen contracts inward, pushing air out. This is the most natural and efficient way to breathe. Abdominal breathing creates more internal space for the lungs to expand than trying to push the chest out to breathe. Breathing in this way permits a greater exchange of air in the lungs and therefore breathing becomes slow and relaxed. The key to natural respiration is not forcing the breath. As you breathe abdominally try to notice six qualities of the breath: Slow, Long, Deep, fine, Even and Tranquil.

  1. Slow: Slow means a slow respiratory rate and unhurried mood.
  2. Long: Long means that the breath is a long, steady stream of air.
  3. Deep: Deep means that the breath and Qi is sinking low in the body, filling the lower Dan Tian.
  4. Fine: Fine refers to a smooth and quiet breath rather than a course and loud respiration.
  5. Even: Even refers to a feeling of internal balance and equal ease of inhalation and exhalation. It also implies not favouring any particular part or side of the body.
  6. Tranquil: Tranquil refers primarily to a mind focused on present experience, free of thoughts and worries.

Notice the four stages of the breath: Inhalation, the turning of the breath between inhalation and exhalation, exhalation, the natural pause that occurs during the second turning of the breath between the end of one exhalation and the next inhalation.

Unnatural breathing: Hyperventilating: Hyperventilation is characterized by predominately thoracic (chest) breathing, little use of the diaphragm, irregular or interrupted breathing, a quick respiratory rate and frequent sighing. Hyperventilation is a common symptom of seven major psychosomatic diseases: asthma, hypertension, ulcers, rheumatoid arthritis, colitis, hyperthyroidism, and neurodermatitis. It is also seen in migraine sufferers, chronic pain of any origin, seizure disorders, heart disease, and among smokers. Although hyperventilation may be a common symptom of disease, it does not necessarily follow that it causes disease. However evidence does suggest that improper breathing can be a precipitating factor in many disorders. Also, that proper breathing can provide a cure.

Reversed Breathing: It is helpful to occasionally practice “reversed breathing” as a way to stimulate the Qi and gain more control over the breathing muscles. Reversed breathing is not dangerous if practiced for brief periods of time but it is dangerous if it becomes your normal breathing method. In reversed breathing, the abdomen contracts during inhalation while the chest cavity expands slightly (ribs opening) and the sternum lift. During exhalation, the abdomen is slightly distended and the chest closes naturally. In both the inhalation and exhalation phases, the breath is deep, soft and silent. The abdomen is moving, though opposite to the fashion of “natural respiration”. In the practice of reversed breathing, the respiration rate should be slow. When reversed breathing is practiced consciously, the lower abdomen feels alive and empowered.
There are three ways to practice reversed breathing:

1. To pay attention to the physical process, as described above. This is very strengthening for the diaphragm and abdominal muscles.
2. The second way is to note the vertical component of reversed breathing. While inhaling, Qi and intent seems to shift to the chest, the middle Dan tian. While exhaling, it seems to shift back to the lower abdomen. Two energy centers are stimulated as well as the solar plexus.
3. The third method is to pay close attention to the horizontal component. In this technique, during inhalation, as the abdomen contracts, imagine the breath being drawn back toward the sacrum. During exhalation, as the abdomen protrudes, the Qi is pushed frontward and backward with each breath. This is one of the most powerful ways of using the breath to stimulate and strengthen the Dan tian, increasing the Dan tian’s ability to pump Qi through the body.

However powerful this exercise can be, it would be a grave mistake to assume that it should become a regular habit. Practice it for three minutes before beginning natural respiration. This frees the diaphragm and abdominal muscles and makes the natural breathing much smoother and deeper.

Differentiated Breathing: By practising both normal and unusual breathing patterns, one becomes conscious of one’s habits and is less likely to return to those which are unpleasurable. Differentiated breathing awakens various states of consciousness and teaches us about the relationship between breath and mind. It is also likely that differentiated breathing is a form of neurological re-education.

Here are some suggestions for the practice of differentiated breathing:
• Can you breathe extra deeply? Begin inhalation by expanding the abdomen; then allow the breath to roll into the upper chest with an expansion of the rib cage. Afterward, let the breath fall away naturally.
• Can you breathe with only the left side of the chest, only the right side?
• Can you concentrate on the lateral expansion of the ribs, on the upward movement of the sternum during inhalation?
• Can you breathe with the back? Is anything happening with the collarbones as you breathe?
• Can you hold your breath comfortably for a brief period of time? While holding your breath, can you alternatively expand the abdomen and chest, moving the breath between the lower and upper lobes of the lungs? How does it feel to sometimes pause the breath during inhalation and exhalation?

Qigong students can playfully experiment with the breath.
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Dan Tian Breathing: Dan tian breathing is an extremely beneficial variation of normal breathing. The Dan tian is the energy centre in the abdominal region, about two to three inches below the navel and midway into the centre of the body. The precise location of the Dan tian varies slightly from person to person. Tune into how your body breathes. The Dan tian will be the point or region from which the expansion of the abdomen seems to originate.

While practicing Dan tian breathing, both the lower abdomen and the lower back expand with inhalation, and both retract with exhalation. Most of the movement is still felt in the front of the body, but there is definitely a response in the back.
Dan tian Breathing includes all of the benefits of natural respiration. It makes the mind and body relax, decreases unhealthy reactions to stress, lessens anxiety, allows more efficient gaseous exchange, and massages internal organs. Additionally Dan tian Breathing stimulates the kidneys, the lower spine, and the important acupuncture point, Ming men “the gate of life”. Ming men controls the proper functioning of the kidneys and, when stimulated, increases the body’s overall vitality and energy level. Dan tian Breathing primes the body’s major energetic pump so that Qi can spread more efficiently throughout the body.
It is important never to force the lower back. If the lower back does not move, then just imagine it moving. Eventually the back will begin to respond.

Embryonic Respiration: Embryonic respiration refers to the time when the embryo is in the womb. Breathing is an internal process, air and nutrients being exchanged through the umbilical cord. When an adult practices embryonic respiration he/she feels a return to the womb of the universe, nurtured by the primordial Qi. Embryonic respiration is sometimes called stopping the breath. The breath becomes so slow, easy, and slight that it seems to have stopped. The breath feels as if it is held within; it becomes internal, effortless movement. The abdomen rises and falls. Air enters and leaves spontaneously, the way an infant breathes. The mind is free of thoughts and images. The breath should be so natural that the meditator is no longer aware that he is breathing.
The student can imagine that with each inhalation Qi enters the Dan tian. During exhalation concentrate on the Qi remaining fixed in the Dan tian, creating warmth and light, like a luminous pearl. The continuous influx of universal Qi helps to create a new self, a seed or embryo of wisdom and long life.
Embryonic breathing means to allow the breath to become completely effortless, so that it leads you into a state of blissful stillness and serenity. In this state, you are likely to feel as if you are unified with the cosmos, at one with all of life. One then feels spacious, free of constraints, as though he/she becomes the breath. At the same time there is a feeling of clarity and luminosity. Although embryonic respiration is more a way of being rather than a particular qigong technique, certain procedures can help the student to achieve embryonic respiration more quickly. These include Dan tian Breathing as describe above; a balanced diet; not allowing emotional excesses; circulating the Qi internally; and cultivation of inner silence.

The method of No-Method: We learn various methods of breathing in order to find freedom of the breath, so that the body can adapt in a healthy way to the needs of the moment. Methods are learned in order to unlearn dysfunctional habits and to recover new options, greater freedom of choice for the body. After practicing these qigong techniques, forget them, just let yourself breathe. As you continue training, your daily habits will change naturally, not through force.

Qigong Breathing Methods

Method Inhalation Exhalation Purpose
Natural Abdomen expands Abdomen contracts Establish good breathing habits and overall health
Differentiated All possibilities All possibilities Control of breath, release inhibitions
Reversed Abdomen contracts Abdomen expands Energize, strengthen diaphragm
Dan Tian Abdomen and lower back expand Abdomen and lower back expand Strengthen and cultivate Dan tian Qi, health, and inner peace
Embryonic Minimal movement, effortless Minimal movement, effortless Spiritual bliss, expanded awareness

Remember also the method of no-method, not controlling the breath, letting nature work without interference.

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