If I were only allowed to do one exercise to improve the health of my mind and body I would choose Shaolin Qigong. When I was younger my focus was on Iron Shirt Qigong, partly because it was useful in a combat situation, partly because I wanted to push my limits, and partly because – although I probably shouldn’t admit this – I wasn’t so sure there was a thing called Qi. When I came to the UK, a scientist from Nottingham University investigated my Iron Shirt Qigong. He usually tests the impact of car accidents on crash test dummies. He was surprised by what my body was doing when a brick was hitting it. He confirmed in scientific terms what my master had taught me. When we practice Iron Shirt Qigong, our Qi acts like a mirror, bouncing our opponent’s power back at us. Of course most of us are not fighters and we don’t find ourselves in combat situations so instead of using our Qi to protect ourselves from a brick, we can use Qigong to protect ourselves against ageing and ill health.
How many of us think about our liver or kidney or heart? It’s only when we get older and we have problems that we realize how important they are. A strong and healthy body can only be strong from the inside out. Qigong is the only exercise I know which oxygenates our internal organs, refreshing the supply of blood, removing internal blockages and turning back the clock. There are many types of Shaolin Qigong. By the request of many of my students here’s a quick overview of the Qigong’s you can learn. Shaolin Qigong Forms 8 Treasures Qigong – Instant Health: The Shaolin Qigong Workout & The Way Of Qigong Volume 1 When the Bodhidharma came to the Shaolin Temple, he found the monks were weak from sitting in meditation all day so he devised a series of Qigong exercises to energize their brains, prolong their life and help them gain enlightenment. A monk chose eight of the most powerful movements and put them in this Qigong form. It’s easy to learn and can be very simply broken down. If you only learn one Qigong, learn this one! TRY THIS: Do one of the movements before you go to work. It will create not just Instant Health but Instant Calm. Your day will run smoothly. The Way Of Qigong Volume 2 This powerful sitting Qigong cleanses toxins from the body and purifies the brain and nervous system. If you are a serious Shaolin Qigong student you need to learn this after you’ve mastered 8 Treasures. Broken down into a few movements it’s great for people who are not fully mobile (it can be done from a chair) jet lag, insomnia, pregnant women (though don’t do the reverse breathing, stick to abdominal breathing). TRY THIS: Follow the DVD for 10 minutes before you go to sleep. Don’t do any longer than 10 minutes or it may energize you too much. The Way Of Qigong Volume 3 This cleanses the muscles, bones and tendons. It builds exceptional inner strength and focus. Shaolin Students progress to this form once they’ve learned Qigong 2. You will notice a vast difference in your martial art’s practice once you start to practice this form. TRY THIS: Do two sections before your kung fu workout and the rest of the form after and monitor how your kung fu workout was more powerful as a result. Qigong For Upper & Lower Body If you are under the age of 25, you may find Qigong boring so I suggest you practice this Qigong. It combines both internal and external training. It gives your muscles a lean and defined look. One student told me that he’d never sweated as much from standing still as when he followed these DVDs. It’s also good for older people as it strengthens their tendons and bones from the inside out (though they won’t be able to do the whole DVD, just a small section of it). This combination of DVDs is incredibly challenging. TRY THIS: Do Qigong for upper body one day and Qigong for lower body the next. Don’t expect to do the whole DVD in one go. Remember it’s quality that counts, not quantity. When we are frightened, it’s our body that reacts first then our mind takes its cue from our body. Whichever form you decide is for you, Qigong will have a deeply relaxing effect on your body. It unlocks the peace, strength, energy and focus that is already within you. It optimizes your mind and body so it’s always running at its peaceful peak. Sign up to Shifu’s newsletter and receive your free motivational tips. You can find Shifu’s DVDs, downloads and books at shifuyanlei.com