Shaolin Forms teach the many muscle groups in our body to work together. They are the only exercise I’ve come across where every muscle is engaged and you’re simultaneously building flexibility, strength, endurance, balance, and power. These ancient forms teach us how to move in our modern life, whether that’s carrying our groceries home or climbing the stairs to the subway. Everything becomes part of our training: total mind-body wellness
Here’s My Top 5 Tips for Mastering Your Forms:
- Learn the 5 Fundamental Stances and 5 Basic Kicks – Every Shaolin form, whether it’s Qigong or Kung Fu is made up of Five Fundamental Stances and Five Fundamental Kicks. Master these stances and kicks first before you move onto practicing Shaolin Forms.
- Give It Meaning – Make sure that your breathing, movement, and even your eyes work together. Make your stance have meaning so that people can see you have a strong foundation.
- Have Good Flexibility – Most people are familiar with the impressive quick fluid forms of the Shaolin Monks in performance. This is due to their flexibility. When you do the form, you don’t want it to be stiff, you want it to be fluid. Never skip the stretching part of your workout.
- Use Your Heart – Use your heart to practice each movement so that your form has soul inside. If your mind shifts and you keep thinking of other things, gently bring it back. You need to be right here and now when you practice.
- Slow It Down then Pace It Down- It’s a good idea to practice kung fu forms as slow as we practice Qigong so we can get the feel for the movements and get the form exactly correct. Try varying the pace each time you practice and see how if feels. The more you’ve mastered the form, the quicker you can practice.
Shifu teaches the 5 Fundamental Stances in his book Instant Health: The Shaolin Qigong Workout For Longevity
He teaches the 5 Fundamental Stances and the 5 Fundamental Kicks in his DVD and download, Shaolin Workout 1 and his book Instant Fitness: The Shaolin Kung Fu Workout. (released in October)
It’s easy to feel sluggish at this time of year especially if you live in a country like here in the UK where it’s cold and grey. But you’re a Shaolin Warrior all year round so here’s my top five steps to keeping active and inspired over the winter months.
1. Get Moving
The more you sit in front of a computer, the less you will want to workout. At the end of your working day your body will tell you that it’s tired and give you another excuse to skip your workout. But if you can motivate yourself to push through your tiredness, once you begin to move, you’ll be surprised to find that you feel energized. This is because movement and exercise unleash your body’s energy. You are born to move. You are not born to sit all day. Your Shaolin Workout brings your body and mind in harmony. It’s only when your body and mind are working in harmony that you can feel truly energized and happy.
2. Use Your Shaolin Workout As A Refuge
We tend to be goal focused and driven in our work so it’s good to take the pressure off when it comes to your workouts. Use your workout as a time to tune out of your daily life and tune into your body. Each of your workouts gives your body a different experience. There is the challenging anaerobic training from the Kung Fu Workouts, and the internal balancing Qigong Workout. As you move through these different workouts be aware of the different energy-producing states and what effect they have on your mind and body. What do you feel when starting the workout? How do you feel when you’ve finished?
3. Be Your Best Friend
The Buddha said that it is our mind which makes the world. When I was young boy at the temple I had the arrogance to disagree with the Buddha and think he was wrong! But now I realize that he is exactly right. We can be in the most beautiful place in the world but if our minds are angry or depressed then we can’t appreciate it. Our life is created by our thoughts. Thoughts can be trained just like muscles. Thoughts are energy so be aware of whether your thoughts are bringing you positive Qi or negative Qi. Tune into the positive and let go of the negative.
4. Wear Jade
If you spend most of your time in front of the computer then balance this out by wearing jade. Alongside Qigong, jade has been used for thousands of years in China as a powerful longevity tool. I know that the West doesn’t have this tradition but the Chinese believe that jade is a living thing that can give us positive Qi. Not only the stone itself but also the carving. When I’m not training I wear a jade Guan Yin. Authentic Jade is from the earth, it contains a life force of its own. But you don’t need to have blind belief. If you stand by a waterfall or on top of a mountain, you will feel very different than if you sit at your computer. I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that a computer does not give us longevity energy!
5. Take One Step Today
These are four simple steps to increase your energy. Take one step each week and then by the end of the month you will have taken all of the steps. Remember, when you improve a little each day, eventually big things occur.
Learn Shaolin Kung Fu and Qigong from Shifu Yan Lei’s DVDs and download
Gobi Desert Jade Buddha Amulets, Dark Green Jade, and Jade Wrist Malas and available from www.shifuyanlei.com