One of the things I love most about qigong is that it’s accessible to everyone.
And I mean EVERYONE. I’ve taught qigong to all kinds of amazing humans. Here are a few examples:
- an army veteran with one arm
- a young attorney with one leg
- a 94-year-old wheelchair-bound grandmother
- a visually impaired teenager
- a 60-something professor with one-sided paralysis after a stroke
- a 40-something mother confined to a bed while battling COVID-19
Teaching them qigong is one thing; what’s more important is the RESULTS.
A lot of exercises, like yoga and pilates, can be adapted to a seated or prone posture. And that’s a good thing that will benefit a lot of people.
But a lot of people get confused with qigong. They think that if they mess up the physical form, they won’t get results.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The physical form is the least important aspect of this amazing healing art.
Can I Practice in a Chair?
For example, students often ask me if they can practice qigong in a chair. What they’re really asking me is if they can get RESULTS while practicing in a chair.
Duh. Of course you can.
You should be adapting the various postures to your own body ANYWAY, chair or no. If you want to get the healing benefits of qigong, then it’s critical to be comfortable.
This approach is the opposite of the typical “no pain, no gain” approach in Western exercise.
With qigong, the motto is: “No pain, no pain!”
I tell my students that they are free to butcher the physical form of the exercises that I teach them. Students need this reminder because we come from a culture that views physicality as paramount.
In qigong, physicality is NOT paramount.
Your breathing, your mindfulness, your ability to relax, your enjoyment of the experience — these things are FAR more important than making your form look picture perfect.
If you have chronic back pain and you force yourself to stand up to do your qigong, and if as a result you’re wincing in pain every 30 seconds — then you won’t be able to relax your body or your mind.
And if you can’t relax your body-mind, then you can’t do qigong. Not REAL qigong at least.
Are You Doing Real Qigong?
By “real” qigong I mean qigong that is practiced as an internal art.
What is an internal art?
With an internal art, the important stuff happens on the inside, not the outside. It’s similar to sitting meditation in the sense that the physical posture is less important than what you do with your mind.
With qigong, we harmonize the mind, the breathing, and the body. If you are in pain, then you won’t be able to harmonize any of these things.
If your mind is always on the form of the exercise, then chances are you’re not going deep enough with qigong. And that means you’re not getting the results that you deserve.
When to Sit
If you cannot stand to do your qigong, then there’s no dilemma. You can and should be doing your qigong from a seated posture. Watch the video below for some tips on how to do that.
But some of you will need to temporarily practice qigong in a chair for other reasons. For example:
- You sprained your ankle
- You are recovering from a serious illness
- You just had surgery
- You are on an airplane
- You are too fatigued to stand
- You have acute back pain
In the above examples, doing your qigong in a chair or a seated posture will speed up the healing process.
But I Want to Stand!
Unfortunately, I often see another problem with my students: Intractable stubbornness.
If you’re determined to stand as soon as possible after your injury or surgery or whatever is blocking you — great! Now take that enthusiasm, bottle it, and save it for the coming weeks!
Re-injury is the enemy.
If you stand too soon, if you use a “no pain, no gain” approach, then you’re likely to hurt yourself and delay the healing. In some cases, I’ve seen students who had to go back in for surgery because they ripped their stitches or staples.
Here’s a better alternative: Stand for some of the session.
If you know the 5-Phase Routine, then try standing for Phase 3. Sit for all of the other phases.
Or if you are ambitious, stand for both Phase 2 and Phase 3.[Note: If you want to learn the 5-Phase Routine, then grab my free COVID Support program while it’s still available. I’ve never offered anything like this for free and probably won’t ever again.]
Watch the video below for some tips and instruction on using a chair.
Here are the tips that I mention in the video:
- Experiment with different chairs
- Try chairs with different heights or try a cushion
- Use chairs without armrests if possible
- Try a stool
- Don’t lean back in the chair
- Keep your feet flat on the ground if possible.
- If you know the 5-Phase Routine, and if you are able to, stand up for Phase 3.
Got questions? Post them in the comments below. From the heart, Sifu Anthony