From the base of the mountain, many paths. From the peak, only one moon.
While yoga has its roots in Indian Vedic scriptures, qigong grew out of the Chinese Taoist pursuit of longevity. For me, they are different paths up the same mountain; the goal of each is to improve the health of the body, to calm and clarify the mind, and to strengthen connection to the human spirit and humanity. These forms complement each other so well, that for me a synthesis of yoga and qigong as a practice has become the most potent combination for the improving my life and the lives of my students.
Looking at each system separately (and I know I’m speaking in broad categorizations), yoga has been described as the “union of body, mind, and spirit.” The physical practices of yoga are geared towards the cultivation of strength and flexibility in the body. As I see it, for the most part the postures of yoga are quite lineal, with straight lines and angles predominating. Alignment and precision are not only important, but required; to really “stretch” the body we need to bring sustained effort to opening the connective tissue in ways that do not injure. This requires correct technique, time, and skillful application of effort.
Qigong translates as “life energy cultivation” and utilizes practices that enhance the flow of life force in our bodies. The exercises often involve connecting breath with gentle, circular, flowing movements, bringing suppleness to the body and flexibility to the mind. It is this suppleness that allows the free flow of healing life force (qi) and connects one to authentic being. Through qigong practice the senses are cleansed, and the movement of energy is experienced as pure joy.
These two systems, yoga and qigong, are not at odds with each other. On the contrary, they are mutually supportive paths up the same mountain, from which the “one moon” can be seen in all it’s brilliance. Strength and flexibility through yoga (ability to hold firm) and suppleness (ability to hold yield) through qigong.
So, in the end, the objective is to meld the linear (expansion in all directions) and the circular (return to the source), creating a practice that improves strength, flexibility and suppleness. This brings balance to yin and yang, heaven and earth, sun and moon, male and female. Dancing with this “pair of opposites” brings balance to the whole being and connects us to all of nature.
For more about Daniel, visit yogaofenergyflow.com/.