With the thousands of different styles of qigong that are available, it can get very confusing as to which exercise is best to do. I have learned several styles, but doing them all is impossible. So I have asked myself: “Why choose a daily qigong exercise?”
First, a daily exercise routine reinforces muscle memory you have developed. If you have learned the proper movement technique of a particular qigong practice set, then you help maintain the correct posture and alignments. This forms the basis of your ability to perform other exercises correctly and maintain an energy flow balance.
Second, you don’t have to think about what you are doing, you just do it. It keeps things simple. Doing without doing is a basic Taoist principle. You are the movements and the movements become you. You embody the movements.
Third, it keeps you on track with how your body is functioning. You can use the daily exercise to use a reference point to see how your body and mind are for each day. Maybe you will notice that there are some things that you do which influence your health in a more positive way, and vice versa. It helps keep your life in a healthy perspective
In the end, you have to remember, it’s not how many qigong styles or any other type of exercise that you know how to do that make you healthy, it is whether you do something daily and routinely check up with your body to see how you are doing. It is not a contest. It is more about how you attend to your own being.
What are my recommendations? I have none for you specifically, but personally, I have a short yang style tai chi routine that I do daily. I also do a repetitive commencement move, which works my spine and the microcosmic orbit. What you choose depends on you, but I would suggest that something that takes no longer than 15 minutes would be best, because some days may be less convenient for exercise. A short practice will make it more likely that you will complete it and check in with yourself.
An embodied qigong practice needs several factors for success, such as dedication and openness to the application of new principles. You can learn some things from a book, but some things require pondering and experimentation to understand. Sometimes, going to a workshop is needed to help in understanding the depth of the methods. Many people read qigong books and related books on developing self-realization really don’t understand them. I view qigong books as supportive tools for active contemplation of meditations and movement forms that you learn from a competent teacher.
As Eckhart Tolle recommends in this book, The Power of Now, it is important to stop and allow yourself to go beyond the immediate images that come to mind. Ultimately, qigong and Tai chi practice are about embodying the principles.
For instance, take the “string of pearls” image for doing Tai chi, as set forth by Master Chang Sang Feng, where he said: “In any action, the entire body should be light, alert and coordinated, like a string of pearls.” Can you experience this continuity and connectivity in your movements? Can you make all of your movements act as an integral whole with coordination? If not, can you find the points at which the string of pearls is interrupted, dissolving blockages and opening up the blocked connection? Some blockages take time and dedicated practice to overcome or work through. The sequential opening and closing of joints (arms, legs and vertebrae) is an example of what is needed to be realized to embody the string of pearls in your movements. Take your time and practice with tranquility, not striving, and maybe you will embody the “string of pearls.”