Is it necessary to do warm up, loosening and stretching exercises if you practice a qigong? I know there are many different opinions about this topic. In this blog I would like only to explain why I regularly practice these exercises and why I think they are beneficial. My intent is not a detailed explanation about different kinds of exercises and their different purposes.
I consider warm up, loosening and stretching exercises as a part of my daily qigong practice. For me these starting exercises equal starting doing my qigong training. I perform these exercises as if I’m already doing qigong movements. My awareness immediately starts shifting from outside world to my inner reality. My mind starts to relax and calm down. My breathing slows down and my brain waves also slow down. When you repeat these exercises day after day, this process is very fast. It is like the music that you listen again and again while you are writing, for example, and in time it becomes for you an anchor to catch the mood that inspires your creativity.
So when I have finished warm up and stretching exercises I’m calm, my qi is flowing smoothly and I’m ready to start working with energy – do a qigong set, Taijiquan etc.
With Petar we try to teach this process also to our students. Majority of them come to the qigong training after a long working day. By this approach we try to teach them how to shift in a short time into a more relaxed and calm state and to be ready for qigong.
If you want to be soft…
If you want a qi in your body to flow smoothly, your body must be relaxed, soft, flexible and opened. If your body is stiff, also your mind is stiff. I’m sorry, but if you want to be soft and you want to become skilled qigong practitioner, you can’t simply skip this part of training.
In qigong and Chinese martial arts there are many different exercises for warm up, loosening and stretching our body. Practitioners who train both qigong and martial arts usually don’t question the necessity of warm up and stretching exercises. These exercises were always considered very important part of body conditioning. But also for those who practice only qigong these exercises are in my opinion vital for serious qigong practice.
Why do you need to do warm up, loosening and stretching exercises?
Before you start with Qigong, Nei Gong or Taijiquan… practice you should always warm up, loose and stretch your body. When people hear about stretching often think about stretching of their limbs, legs and arms. But there is more. In qigong is especially important to open the spine and stretch trunk muscles. When these muscles are tense your whole body is tense including internal organs. If the body is tense qi circulation is also disturbed. It is important to loose and stretch trunk muscles even before stretching your limbs. If you proceed with exercises for looseningabdomen, diaphragm and chest, your whole trunk feels soft and opened and your breathing becomes deeper.
The next purpose of these exercises is to open your joints and make them more flexible, improve their range of motion and prevent chances for injuries.
And another important aspect of these exercises is that by doing them you lengthen your connective tissue, fascia, and energy channels (meridians).
Condition your body gradually
For each area that I have mentioned – warm up, loosening, stretching – there are many different exercises designed for special purposes. It is impossible to work with all areas of our body at once. Each practitioner knows what are his/her weak spots.
For majority of people works if they do a sequence of exercises that warm up and stretch the most important areas of the body and then they continue to work with some areas (for example ankles) that need to be improved. Usually you feel when is time to move forward and focus on another area (to lengthen it, open it or strengthen it…).
Respect your current limits
All these exercises for warm up, loosening and stretching can be more or less demanding for you. You can do any exercise no matter what your age is, if you only follow the rule to do exercises considering your limits. For example if you are less flexibile you should go less deep into a stretch. Slowly your flexibility will improve. But if you use force you can only injure yourself and then you will be unable to practice for months.
Start listening to your body and be responsible for it. Nobody knows better than you what your current body capabilities are.
Regular warm up and stretching exercises are beneficial for your health
My personal opinion is that regular warm up, loosening and stretching exercises are beneficial for everybody’s health. You can use them instead of coffee to wake you up in the morning, to stretch a little bit in the office, before you start some hard work (cutting wood… :)), before doing any kind of sport. It is like warming up your engine to have a smooth ride after.
May the Qi be with you!
Watch a sequence of simple Qigong warm up and stretching exercises. You can find other videos about this topic on our YouTube Channel, Playlist: Warm up and Stretching in Qigong.
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