Qigong Foundation Practices
In my experience, these practices form the ideal foundation in the Internal Arts for most people. They get you into the heart of the Internal Arts more quickly than Tai Chi alone, or can very usefully be learned in combination with Tai Chi. The practices complement each other exceptionally well, providing a combination or 'synergy' of techniques and approaches, and produce the smoothest progress towards developing your health and energy when done together.
Both weekly classes and private classes gradually and naturally combine the different Foundation Practices seamlessly, whilst helping each person adapt what they learn to their particular needs.
1. Whole Body Breathing (a.k.a. Taoist Longevity Breathing)
2. Internal Strength & Awareness Practices (from Energy Gates Neigong)
3. Medical Qigong for the Meridians (Dragon & Tiger Qigong)
4. Qigong for the Joints & Spine (from The Marriage of Heaven & Earth Neigong)
5. Twisting & Spiraling Qigong (a.k.a. Cloud Hands from Energy Gates Neigong)
Taoist Meditation & Foundation Classes
The Taoists found that as the mind and body are so interlinked (or indeed not separate), in order for a human being to become relaxed, open, balanced and healthy, it is important to work with both the mind and body.
Otherwise, they found that in practise body tensions tend to block the opening of the mind, and mental and emotional tensions tend to block the health and energy of the body. Equally, they found that doing practises only sitting down (as is often the case in meditation classes) frequently leads to drowsiness, stagnation, weak energy and passivity; whilst just moving often leads to a lack of calmness, stability and relaxation.
Consequently, Foundation Classes consisit of both sitting, standing and moving practices, yielding a balanced and integrated approach to give you the best possible chance of realising the aims of Taoist practise – to become more relaxed, open, balanced and healthy, enabling the spirit to open naturally. Our Foundation Classes are carefully designed to achieve this in as interesting, balanced and enjoyable a way as possible.
If the nerves, energy and mind are sufficiently calm and smooth, it is possible to work directly with the mind through Taoist Meditation. Here we learn to relax the flow of thoughts and energy of the mind until we can let the mind go and come to perceive the natural openness underlying, illuminating and dissolving all experience, enabling the mind to become light, present, spontaneous and naturally connecting with others
Tai chi is the best known of the Internal Arts.
At O.I.A. I teach the Wu Style of Tai Chi as passed down by Master B.K. Frantzis. Master Frantzis’ teacher lived and studied with the founder of the Wu Style as his formal disciple, and was regarded in taoist circles as one of the great Taoist masters and Tai Chi masters of the 20th century. He passed on his lineage to Mr. Frantzis and one other person.
In my experience it is more rewarding for students to learn Tai Chi on the basis of the Foundation Practices rather than on its own. Tai chi classes are therefore run in this way, especially at an Intermediate level. Students learn quicker, in more depth, and more completely, without leaving large gaps in their abilities.
At best, the Foundation Practices are learned before learning the Tai Chi form. Frantzis found this approach enabled him to learn much more easily, quickly and completely than students who went straight into learning the Tai Chi form, and found that most Internal Arts masters in China concurred in this experience (see B.K. Frantzis, “The Power of the Internal Martial Arts”, North Atlantic Press, page 51)
Massage (Qigong Tui Na)
The massage techniques at O.I.A are a part of Qi Gong Tui Na. They are taught within classes in order to help deepen your practice. We have run seminars for the Oxford School of Massage whose tutors and students report that these techniques can be very usefully incorporated into their massage practices.
They are not offered to qualify you as a massage therapist, even though they will most likely be appreciated by friends and family!