Qi Gong (pronounced chee gung) is the ancient art of balancing life force and strengthening energy:
“According to the Chinese conception, there is a cosmic intelligence living in the qi. It lives in all things that exist naturally – humans, animals, plants, and minerals.” It is the connection to this intelligence that we find through the practice of qi gong exercises.
The system combines gentle, slow movements with visualization of the energy field – the qi —to increase our ability to relax, to encourage health, and to develop a lasting relationship with the qi that is all around us. Many different styles of qi gong exist, but all are based on the foundation of movement and qi awareness. Happily there is nothing at all strenuous about these exercises, nor are they difficult to learn. With determination and time, anyone can master the art.
This slim volume by Shi Xinggui is far more than the sum of its pages. Beautifully designed, the text and accompanying photographs in Shaolin Qi Gong: Energy in Motion provide clear instructions for moving through each exercise. In addition, there is a clear description of the effects of each movement and its connection to the energy meridians that run through the body. Turning Wheels, for instance, “improves coordination and restores momentum to the entire organism. It also provides good loosening for the shoulders and arms.”
The book alone will be enough for most beginners to learn the basic moves and begin practicing them right away. A marvelous bonus, however, is the DVD that accompanies the text. I was pleasantly surprised by the clarity of the visuals, and even more surprised by the lack of narration. Instead of trying to follow Shi Xinggui as he moves while simultaneously sorting through verbal instruction, I was able to simply mimic his moves in a calm and relaxed manner. The music –“based on the pentatonic scale”—is particularly soothing, adding to the sense that there is no rush, no right or wrong, and no need to fret about perfection while practicing qi gong.
The author, a student of Shaolin since the age of eight and a champion martial artist, has created an outstanding and very reasonably priced alternative to on-site training for those who do not have access to a teacher. I’ve tried a few other books and DVD courses in the past, but none of them has given me the natural flow of qi gong as Shaolin Qi Gong: Energy in Motion does. Anyone new to the art will be delighted and enlightened by Shi Xinggui’s demonstration, and I expect experienced practitioners will gain even more.