It’s pretty clear from recent research that doing qigong has a wide range of benefits including improving our health, reducing anxiety and negative thinking, improving sleep, and increasing healing from injuries and chronic disease. So this raises some interesting questions: Why isn’t everyone doing it and why is it so hard to find qigong classes that are able to produce these results repeatedly?
Great qigong classes have instructors with a high level of internal development and teach qigong exercises that are simple to perform and include cleansing, building, and storing portions.
As a young tai chi practitioner, I became interested in qigong but could not initially find any qigong classes near me that delivered on the promises of improving my health and internal development. When I finally did experience an amazing qigong class, it was evident what the good class had and what all the other classes were missing.
At this point I credit my daily practice with my incredible health and energy. Based on the amount of research going into it, I think qigong is going to skyrocket in popularity but we collectively need to raise the bar as instructors on the classes we are giving and as attendees on what we expect. Let’s start with several of the problems I think that are plaguing many current classes. Instructors, be open to these suggestions and improve your game! Then I will share seven qualities that all great qigong classes share so that you know what to look for when searching for qigong classes near you.
When Qigong Classes Do Not Produce the Results People Are Looking For
When I was first interested in qigong I attended a class in town. The schedule didn’t work out for me so I practiced on my own. Not getting any results or not thinking the set I was doing was doing anything, I signed up for an online qigong class where I watched an instructor and followed along. Still not much to speak of. I could not find another qigong class near me so I attended a workshop and BOOM! By the afternoon I was feeling energy in my hands, was feeling an emotional shift akin to elation, and although it was teeny-tiny, I felt the warmth of energy in my body.
Here’s the problem:
By finally experiencing great instruction and an intelligently designed qigong set it became apparent that I had been beating myself up for not understanding enough, or not being centered enough, or not being developed enough. All of these things can be true at the beginning but qigong is really not that mystical. You should start seeing results at the very least within 4-6 weeks.
Here are several reasons that some qigong classes or at least the qigong exercises being taught are problematic. Then we’ll get into the final piece which is basically a checklist that you should use to make sure that the qigong you’re doing is of high caliber.
It Is Seen As “Part” Of Other Studies
Most often qigong classes are just a tiny part of another martial arts class. A few movements are tacked on to the end of a tai chi class or maybe at the beginning of a yoga class to start you off in the right frame of mind.
Qigong is typically a series of 3-12 movements, each repeated several times. It needs to be practiced and learned on its own. At the beginning it may take 20 minutes to do but most sets are shorter after they are memorized. It is kind of like the amount of practice it would take to learn a song to sing that only ends up being four minutes long in the end.
They Do Not Contain the Three Prerequisites: Cleaning Building, and Storing
By and large, qigong should have three parts. There should be a portion for cleansing. This doesn’t have to be something mystical. We’re talking about fully exchanging all the air you have in you for new fresh air. It’s ringing your arms and your legs out to kind of squish all the blood that was in those muscles back into the arterial system and replenish the blood with oxygenated blood.
After this energy is “clean” if you will, your goal is to build more of it. Finally, you store this energy. This might seem strange but built energy is something we want to keep down in the body (the lower dantian) so that the body can use it to repair or energize us. Nothing bad happens to you if this part is missed but think of it like drinking coffee. The right amount in your body and you are energized to work. Too much and your thinking goes a bit crazy and you can’t concentrate as well.
Many Qigong Classes Are Not Taught Incrementally
Qigong is specifically and purposely simple. It is a small number of movements that might be repeated, and it’s easy to learn. However, qigong energy needs to build up over time. A good qigong exercise is taught in portions where you learn a few moves and practice for a week. Maybe you add the fourth move the next week, and the fifth and sixth after that.
Not Set Up For “Weekend Workshop” Format
Oftentimes, in martial arts specifically, things are taught in a workshop format. You want to get your money’s worth in the 72 hours and definitely learn the full series of qigong exercises. But, you should at least have a video or something to remind you of the moves later so that you don’t forget and like I said above, practice it in portions until you build up to the full set.
Poor Transmission of Instruction
The instruction that we get is only as good as the person who’s teaching it and the group that we’re learning from. Ask how the instructor learned the set. If they are primarily a tai chi or yoga instructor and just took a workshop to add something to their class, chances are their transmission of the set might be weak.
An instructor can learn attend a workshop or take qigong classes online but they need a level of internal development to be able to understand what is going on in each of the movements to be able to teach and correct you. Here’s a simple example: most moves build energy or reduce energy. You can imagine what type of moves should be in a set that you do before bed. If an instructor doesn’t understand this distinction they may pair the wrong movements together or do them in the wrong order. Here is a bit more about how qigong works and gets the benefits it does.
No Groups to Work With
Unfortunately qigong is typically a solitary activity which I think limits its popularity. We don’t necessarily have groups to work with like we do with Brazilian jujitsu, karate, tai chi and yoga. Worse yet, we don’t have people to bounce ideas or questions off of. Things like “Hey, I’m doing it this way. What do you think?” or “Are you feeling anything?” Great qigong classes have a time after for questions with instructors who are asking about the students’ experiences.
No Or Few High-Quality Resources or Teaching Sources
The best qigong exercises have some sort of resources where you can go back and refer to books or PDFs or videos. One group in Florida is doing this really well. They’re doing workshops, traveling around to teach, have books, and online videos. The set that I do daily has great videos and resources and the instructor is responsive to questions too.
Ultimately, if you add all this stuff up what you get is people not getting the benefits from qigong classes like they were hoping and they stop practicing. Worse yet, they think they did something wrong or haven’t reached some mystical level so they quit entirely.
Great Qigong Classes Do Exist. Don’t Give Up Looking!
In order for qigong to progress as an art and west, I think that we need to really have a way to qualify whether a set is good or not. There are so many different types of qigong exercises that it is difficult to compare on to the other but there are certain qualities that they all share. Your progress is hugely dependent on the teaching, resources, and design of the set.
Here are Seven Qualities of a Great Qigong Classes
- Includes Cleaning, Building, and Storing Portions
- Builds Incrementally, Adding Movements Over Time
- Has Instructors with A High Level of Internal Development
- Without A Hands-On Instructor, Great Resources Are Available Like Videos
- Is Not Long or Complicated Because This Reduces Commitment and Results
- Thumps, Taps or Bounces the Body to Benefit Lymphatic Tissue
- Actively Teaches the Breathwork that Matches the Movements
What if I Can’t Find Qigong Classes Near Me?
While I think that qigong is going to be the next big health movement, it still remains rare in many areas. Now adays, great instruction is available online and the set that I do each day is taught by a group in a video course and meets all the criteria above.
Peter Ragnar and Tristan Truscott came together to publish a qigong exercise that has a morning and evening portion. Both of these guys are great, experienced teachers in their own right. Peter Ragnar runs the Longevity Sage and has published 30+ books with the first one being written in the early 1950s. That should give you some idea of his longevity. Tristan Truscott has his roots in the martial arts era of Chuck Norris in California, runs a school in Texas, and is the founder of the Satori Method. The Good Morning – Good Evening Qigong set that that produced is extremely strong and the materials are high quality and easy to follow.