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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Similarities.... Yoga, Taiji & Qigong

Qi Magazine - Issue 31 (1997)
By Krishna Dervi Chaudheri

Today many people seeking an alternative, healthy way of life will choose to study yoga, taiji or Qigong. All of these offer exercise to the body, mind and spirit.

Yoga does not have a martial side as does taiji, and its adherents usually practice in a particular ashram, templore or school whereas taiji and Qigong are practiced on a much wider scale socially and publicly.

In a recent Qigong seminar the teacher's first words sere "You must train with a good attitude and heart." Having studied yoga for many years before taking up Qigong, I observed that the rest of the instruction regarding time, place and manner of practice read like a classical yoga course manual. The Bhagvad Ceia says, "Yoga is not for he who starves himself. It is not for he who sleeps too much, not for he who stays awake. By moderation in eating and in resting, by regulation in waking and by concordance in sleeping and walking, yoga destroys all pain and sorrow."

It can also be said of other martial arts and Qigong as well that discipline is needed in order to experience the full benefits of practice. In taiji, regular practice will make the forms more clear and improve health. In Qigong, regular practice will increase the flow of healthy energy (Qi) and help the joints become more loose and improve overall flexibility.

In all of these disciplines we are not only training the body but the mind. As our body becomes more healthy, our mind becomes more balanced. The more we practice, the more closely we are in harmony with the universe. High level masters who have learned to control their emotions and desires and who have achieved stillness within themselves can be said to be one with the universe. 

Throughout our practice, be it yoga, taiji or Qigong, we must learn to relax and keep our mind calm. Eva Wong in her book, Cultivating Stillness, says: "Sitting quietly and not moving is stillness. Craving is movement. If you are filled with desire and your senses are attached to objects, the heart is not still... If you are free from cravings, in stillness you will see the mystery within."

In one of the main classical yoga texts, The Yoga Sudra of Patanjali, it says: "Undoubtedly the mind is heedless and hard to control but it can be trained by constant practice and by freedom from desire. If man cannot control his mind he will find it difficult to attain this divine communion, but the self controlled man can attain it if he tries hard and directs his energy by the right means." Of course this is referring to the study of yoga. However, in other disciplines one begins to achieve balance of the mind through exercise and relaxation. The heart of many disciplines are the same, to train not only the body but the spirit. Through calming the fire of the body, the spirit in turn is calmed. 

The great Yogi of the century, B.K.S. Iyengar, says: "Asanas (different postures of yoga practice) have been evolved over the centuries so as to exercise energy, muscle, nerve and gland in the body. They secure a fine physique which is strong and elastic without muscles bound and they keep the body free from disease. They reduce fatigue and soothe the nerves but their real importance lies in the way they train and discipline the mind."

The same is true for taiji and Qigong. One trains the body, increasing suppleness and loosening the joints which also allows the Qi to flow freely from the body, ridding the body of illness and anxiety.

We can slow develop greater appreciation of all these disciplines by deepening our knowledge. In the same way that knowledge of the acupuncture points of the body greatly enhance Qigong practice, optimum physical benefits and mind relaxation are gained from combining posture and concentration on the physic centre of yoga. Yoga uses mind concentration to stimulate and channel the flow of energy through the Chakras. 

In movement we seek to balance our minds and bodies and through this balance we can then move to stillness... Be it through yoga, taiji or Qigong.