What is Relaxation?
Definition of the relaxation in the West
For the beginning let’s see how a Western world in general defines relaxation. Online Webster dictionary of English language defines a relaxation as a way to rest and enjoy yourself; as time that you spend resting and enjoying yourself; as something that you do to stop feeling nervous, worried, etc.
You can conclude that people who every evening watch TV on the sofa and enjoy in eating or drinking alcohol take a pretty good care of their relaxation… 😉 Sorry to disappoint you, but this is not a relaxation that I will talk about.
The meaning of relaxation in Qigong
What is meant in Qigong as relaxation is quite different from definitions above. In Qigong vocabulary relaxation is connected with various conscious processes whose purpose is to release tensions from our body, mind and spirit and therefore allow the smooth flow of Qi throughout the body and our external energy field. You learn to release tensions by practicing different Qigong relaxation techniques of breathing and meditation from the most simple to more demanding.
Relaxation is about resting and refreshing your mind and body. It is an important part of taking care of yourself. To be relaxed means to be free from tension. It is a useful method for managing anxiety, stress and the fight-or-flight response.
Benefits of relaxation
If you take time to practice relaxation regularly you will become skilled at doing which ever method suits you best. You should start to notice some of the following benefits: slower, deeper and more controlled breathing, improved mood, increased blood flow to muscles, less muscle tension and reduced muscle pain, lower levels of stress hormone which will result in feeling calmer, improved sleep…
Other benefits might include better posture, feeling more in control and having more energy.
Useful tips for relaxation practice
Where should you practice your relaxation?
Choose a quiet, warm and private place, where you won’t be disturbed by other people. Ask your family members, friends, colleagues not to interrupt you for a period of time, or maybe join you. Put your phone in silent mode while you are doing your Qigong relaxation. Turn off the television for your quiet time. Choose the place where you’ll be most comfortable.
Eventually you will be able to use this relaxation mode that you achieved during the Qigong training in a number of different places apart from your home, in malls, when you are travelling. You will finally be able to avoid anxiety or stress, with your newly developed state of well being and skills.
When is it best for me to practice?
It is a good idea to practice Qigong for relaxation every day, even though you have a busy schedule. It is difficult to relax if you are thinking about what you need to do next. Trust me, twenty minutes of Qigong training or more and you’ll be engaging your tasks as a different person. Choose time when you know you are unlikely to be disturbed. I do it in the morning. It is helpful if you choose that time you’ll be doing it and then stick to it as a regular routine.
Avoid to practice Qigong after a big meal.
Qigong for relaxation can be done in different positions: standing, sitting, laying. Certain techniques require particular position to achieve their purpose but in the most of cases you can choose a position which is for you the most comfortable. No matter which position you choose, you must of course apply usual Qigong rules for the correct posture. Below I describe often used standing position.
Get into a normal stance. This is one of the basic stances that we use in Qigong. It is modified horse stance, but pretty higher, with knees bent a bit and spine relaxed. Within this stance you are standing a shoulder width apart, second toes are looking forward, so you get a slight curve between your feet. Make sure your body is comfortable and relaxed as possible. If you feel that the current position is not the best, move your spine just a bit to find a better more comfortable position. Imagine an invisible rope running through your spine going through your apex to the ceiling, or sky. Now imagine that this invisible rope can hold all of your weight, and as you feel tensed, you just modify your position of spine to adapt to this rope.
At the beginning, the effects of Qigong can be quite moderate or it can feel a little strange to do it. Nice and relaxing movements that only Old People do in Chinese parks ;). Don’t be fooled by simplicity and the softness of Qigong exercises. In time you’ll see this is the way to deep relaxation, from which many benefits occur. Don’t give up after one or two sessions. Qigong is a skill and requires practice. Try to practice it every day at a planned time (e.g. not just once a week, or when you are on vacation). Qigong practice for simple relaxation does not need to take a lot of time; it can be a short relaxation of 15 minutes. (But in time you can increase a length of your training up to one hour or more if you want.) It can be done every time you have a spare time. You may decide that you are not going out for a lunch and instead you choose to do a Qigong relaxation (and you have a lunch with you). Extra time that would be normally used on chit-chat you can now spend for your benefit and do some Qigong.
Daily Qigong practice
To maintain your body and mind relaxed you should develop a habit of some daily activity which helps you to achieve that. This will allow you to take time out of your day and focus on enjoyable activity to harmonize yourself. Daily Qigong practice is ideal for the purpose of relaxation. But we are different and maybe some other practice is more suitable for you. In order to relax yourself you can also listening to relaxing and harmonious music while you are practising Qigong. Or keep your eyes half closed and imagine you are in a place where you once felt really nice, or some imaginative place where you feel even better than at home.
Qigong works simultaneously on more levels (body, mind, energy, consciousness) and in time you develop skills to achieve a deep relaxation.
Qigong has many techniques for different purposes. But these skills need to be practiced persistently. Think of it like learning to play a musical instrument. The more you practice the more skilled you are becoming.
With time and practice you will become very good in relaxation.
May the Qi be with you!
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