Doesn’t quite sound right, does it? My New Year’s Resolution for 2014 was to work ‘in’ more. I’m not talking about becoming a hermit, working indoors and never leaving the house. I’m talking about a huge part of our exercise regime that is massively overlooked.
Working Out Vs. Working In
We’re brainwashed into believing we must always work ‘out’, it’s even a word in its own right. Working out is synonymous with exercise.
We go to the gym for a workout. We get frustrated with ourselves when we miss a workout and we go to BodyPump and CrossFit classes to get a workout.
What if I told you working ‘out’ was only half the job done? We place so much emphasis on expending energy that we completely forget about creating it. This is a simple concept when we think about it.
That’s why when we’ve finished throwing the iron around the gym we feel shattered. It’s why we feel exhausted after a long run nauseous at the end of a Spinning class.
We’re depleting energy. Our main motivation behind working out is to ‘burn’ calories but really we’re just burning ourselves out. We should 100% workout frequently but to avoid the associated burnout we also need to work ‘in’.
We need to balance out our workouts with exercise that cultivates life force energy, also known as chi.
Life is all about balance. The yin and the yang. Exercise should be no different.
Finding Balance through Qi Gong
This is the fundamental reason why I wanted to work ‘in’ more in the New Year. I needed to balance out my routine. I started up yoga a few weeks ago, which you can read all about here and I have now delved into Qi Gong.
Qi Gong or Chi Kung (if you’re old school) consists of very simple flowing moves and meditations that boost the energy levels in our body without a can of red bull in sight.
If we think of our body as a battery, Qi Gong is a way of charging it up. Qi Gong actually means internal energy circulation and was developed by Taoist monks. If it was good enough for them, then it was good enough for me.
Chi is our life energy
Chi or life energy is the foundation of Chinese medicine and without an abundance of chi in our bodies we cannot survive or be healthy.
If we think of chi as a candle, if it keeps burning quickly it will soon blow out sooner than expected and so we would too. This was all the motivation I needed to revisit my pal Rod Savvides at the Body and Mind Healing School in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
What I love about Qi Gong is that it’s based on Chinese medicine, so every move you do has a purpose. These moves focus on the channels that conduct energy throughout the body called ‘meridians’. If these channels are blocked then our body doesn’t function properly and dis-ease manifests.
Qi Gong opens and clears these energy channels so we can feel at our most energetic.
The organs want to feel connected too. Our practitioner, Rod, got us talking to our lungs and visualising them smiling back at us. This felt a bit bizarre at the beginning but I’ve never appreciated my organs like this, particularly the lungs with all the toxins and pollution we breathe in.
Rod also explained how the organs are tied to emotions. The lungs hold our sadness and depression but also courage and integrity.
Within eastern healing, it is suggested that smokers have a karmic reason for damaging their lungs because they’ve experienced some sadness and depression in their life that they don’t want to confront. This stuff goes deep!
Look after your organs
We also learned about how unappreciated our organs feel. Rod gave us the analogy of the lungs being similar to an employee who works for a company and gets completely ignored by their boss.
Would that employee really want to do their best for the company if they always felt unappreciated? This goes the same for our organs wanting to work for our body.
So it’s good to get have a little pep talk with those organs from time to time.
The moves we do in Qi Gong also massage our internal organs and stimulate them, making the organs function at their very best.
We always work our muscles so why not our organs? Just because we can’t see them in the mirror with our shirt off or in a bikini doesn’t mean they should be ignored!
The truth is, we only think about our organs when we are sick and by then its usually too late anyway.
Prevention is better than cure
The whole principle of practicing Qi Gong is a preventative measure for disease.
I can honestly say that I felt warm and tingling afterwards, which Rod explained was the chi flowing through the body, a sensation I’ve never experienced after half a lifetime of working out!
The moves had some funky names like ‘embracing the tree’ and ‘standing in the stream’ but they pretty much described more or less what we were doing in a visualising sense. As long as you close your eyes, you’re OK. Otherwise, you get a little distracted watching ten people hold imaginary tress and wading though streams.
But I didn’t feel uncomfortable at all and in fact, found it very empowering working with a group of people all cultivating energy in the same room.
It’s like when we go to a party and can sense a ‘good atmosphere’, we can’t literally see it with our own eyes but we can always feel it.
Regular practice will help you understand your own energy and the energy in your surroundings. You’ll be more likely to steer clear of the energy vampires in your life and hopefully appreciate the benefits of balancing out your exercise so you feel even stronger and more energised for your work ‘out’.
I include these types of exercises in my online coaching programs, which you can apply for here.
Comment below if you practice the ancient art of Qi Gong or feel like you might give it a go!