Expert Corner: Connor MacLaren on QiGong

Meet Connor

Connor MacLaren has instructed Qigong, Yoga and Meditation with Mayfair since 2002 and has taught far longer, having learned these arts at a young age. All of Connor’s classes have a strong focus on correct posture, structure and mechanics as well as how any medical conditions may be affected, helped or influenced by your practice. Having helped hundreds over the years to overcome injuries, feel stronger and more flexible and lower stress levels, Connor continues to work with those both new and veteran to his classes.

Connor on Qigong

What is Qigong?

This is probably the most common question that I get and a very valid one. Qigong 氣功 (typically pronounced Chi Gung) is a word written this way in its most common and typical format, which is Romanized Chinese. Simply put, this exercise is slow-movement based that applies a lot of weight-bearing techniques to your body which actually builds muscle incredibly well and all while helping you to keep (or create) your calm.

What are the benefits and why should people try Qigong?

These are two very important facets of maintaining a healthy body and any age or capability. Qigong will strain your muscles. We are talking achy, shaky legs and arms! This is accompanied with increased body temperature to the point of sweating a lot. Not bad for an exercise that moves really slow! Building muscles can aid in stabilizing your body to hold, protect and maintain better posture.

I mentioned that it also aids in becoming calmer and maintaining a level of calm within yourself. This is important for it is really that much better for your overall health to find some calm at leas some of the
time. There are two things that work toward this calming effect:

1. Breathing

Unlike many other forms of “breath training techniques”, Qigong has you “giving your breath a task” as I tend to express within my classes.
This is an exercise that places the breath first, rather than second as mos exercises do. This means that there is a slow, even breath that you create and then have your arms and / or legs follow. For example, inhalation may raise your arms and exhalation will lower them. This forms a pattern of breath and movement which brings me to:

2. Patterns

The human brain loves patterns. It seeks them out as if programmed to do so. When immersed in a pattern, the brain tends to relax more. So when you consider that there is a pattern of movement and a pattern of breath together, you will undoubtedly relax at some point.

Not all of Qigong’s movements are the type of exercise I have been writing about thus far. Some of them are very meditative as well. Sitting while moving and breathing slowly can become as a moving meditation, just simply slowing things down. I have had a great deal of success over the years in aiding people diagnosed with conditions such as PTSD with this technique. More on that another time.

Give Qigong a try but keep an open mind. Like most exercise, different teachers teach different ways and you may have to try out a few before you find one that you “jive” with.

What is the difference between Tai Chi and Qigong? 

While Qigong has been around for thousands of years, Tai Chi began around 1 AD as a fusion of Qigong and Kung Fu.  In Tai Chi you would be learning and remembering a large number of interlinking forms whereas with Qigong it is simply individual exercises that can be done drop-in style, like you would with any other class.

How quickly will I master it and see results?

Results are immediate. You will feel calmer and well exercised with your first class. There is no mastering, simply using the practice to greatly improve your health and well being.

Is it good for people of all fitness levels / all ages?

I have worked with younger, older, accident victims, PTSD recovery and wheelchair bound.  Everyone will find it challenging, rewarding and easy to understand and do.

About Mayfair’s Qigong Class

Qigong at Mayfair is a drop-in class which requires no previous experience to attend. Classes change regularly and there is nothing to memorize as everything is refreshed for you regularly. Qigong is easily practiced by anyone of any age or ability and concessions such the use of a chair are easily worked in for any member requiring it.

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