Flow and Poetry

The qigong forms are based on the circle and spiral and therefore tend to move more multidimensionally, through the three planes of movement. Thus, these forms lend a balancing dynamic of flow and poetry.

Photo: David Morgan

Generally speaking, the emphasis in qigong is on standing, both moving and still postures. In qigong, there is more value given to the quality of one’s tissues in movement and in stillness. Part of quality is the degree of tonus in one’s bodily tissues, especially one’s musculature, ranging from complete flaccidity to rigidity, or sometimes described as hypo-tonus and hyper-tonus. This tonus has its origin in the mind, in thought, whether intentional or unintentional. In qigong, one directs one’s thought with phrases like “loosening” and “softening”, which help to intentionally redirect what may be a habitual tightening or hardening. In other words, using thought to create new ways of moving and being. In qigong it is said, “Qi (life-force energy) follows thought.” In Alexander Technique, which I studied privately for six years, Alexander said, “Thought precedes action.” These are very similar ideas. Feldenkrais also profoundly realized that movement patterns originate in the brain, in thought. So, in Feldenkrais work one is often directed to use one’s imagination to create a new blueprint, new possibilities of being in the world. Though there are forms of qigong that are done lying, sitting, quadrupedal forms, and even inversions, the emphasis is usually on standing. This may be partly due to the application and development of yogic forms into the martial arts. Qigong’s lyricism offers much to inform and balance the hatha yoga forms.