12 July, 2013

Try something new

This evening, I went back to Passion of Movement for a "Sound Healing" class with Johnny Cates. It is a style of Qigong.

I really had no idea what it was, except for what I learned about it from Patty, whom I talked to quite a bit between yoga class and a massage session this afternoon. It is a type of energy work. It involves breathing, moving slowly in particular meditative fashion, and making sounds while doing some of the breathing. It is not yoga, but I am putting it in here because it happened at a yoga studio.

Johnny is an ex-firefighter from the mainland. I am not sure exactly where, but I think he might be from the Bay Area. He'd had some type of injury from which he was unable to obtain any relief. As a sort of desperation, he tried Qigong, and says it had a massive impact on his health and his life. Thus, he moved forward to become an instructor of the method. From what I understand it is closely related to Tai Chi, and may even be a type of Tai Chi, or vice versa.

The practice consisted of planting our feet about shoulder width apart, with knees a little soft, pelvis tucked. And for the most part, the entire hour is spent in this posture, with movements of the upper body only. There was a lot of swaying and gentle motion during the first half of class, with movement following breath, in repeating cycles. It was reasonably peaceful and the movement and breath did help to keep the mind mostly quiet, though I did have several thoughts of "What is this doing and how does it work?" but it's easy enough to dismiss those types of thoughts.

I should also note that the magic number was once again 2. There were two students in class, and one appeared to be a friend of Johnny's who had promised to try it out some time.

The second half of class is where things got a little more interesting. There are a series of six different healing sounds, each of which is accompanied by a very specific movement and breath. They are each designed to address a different system. I believe these included heart, spleen, kidney, liver, lung, and a bonus one called Qi, or nicknamed "Triple Burner" (whatever that means). For each of these systems, you'd breath in through a particular motion, and then, on the exhale, breath out with a specific sound, such as "Ssssssss" or "Whoooooo" or "Shooooooo," etcetera, continuing through the specific movement. Each one of these is done six times, on six consecutive long breath cycles. That process took the better part of the second half of class.

I did it. I went through these motions. We were not offered much of an explanation of the insight and "science" behind the practice. But I don't know that Eastern Medicine would translate into a "science" that I would comprehend directly anyway.

I'm not really familiar with Qi, and perhaps if I had an understanding, I could have set more of a focus on the movement of energy during these different movements. Perhaps if I understood the meridians. Perhaps if I understood what it means to move energy or hold energy or release energy. I understand none of those things. But I also recognize that when we first walk in the door to a practice, there is much to know. When I first stepped on a yoga mat, I could not have told you what the purpose was of Triangle Pose. I could not have told you what the proper alignment should be in Chair. Even after nearly two years, you will observe that both of these poses are sometimes stated as having multiple purposes, and multiple different ways of aligning the body, depending on what lineage of yoga training you've had. As such, I knew that, coming in the door to Qigong, I would essentially be "going through the motions." And I did not expect that I should have some major revelation or life changing experience.

I do think my spleen feels particularly perky today, though.

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