I was at a qigong class on Sunday evening – a first for me! I read that qigong is “Chinese yoga” and wanted to give it a try for my reviews of yoga in funky locations. I know qigong is not a funky location like Tower Bridge or the Walkie Talkie building, but it’s a new and different yoga experience for me and that’s enough to warrant a review on the blog.
What is Qigong?
- According to the National Qigong Association, qigong (pronounced ‘chee-kung’) can be described as “a mind-body-spirit practice that improves one’s mental and physical health by integrating posture, movement, breathing technique, self-massage, sound, and focused intent.”
- The word is made up of Qi (“subtle breath” or “vital energy”) and Gong (“skill cultivated through steady practice”) so loosely translated it means “vital energy cultivation” or “mastery of your energy”.
- The goal of qigong is to increase and balance your vital energy by opening up the flow of energy in the meridians.
- Just like yoga, qigong uses slow fluid movements which provide focused stretching, strengthening, and health maintenance.
- Qigong is the foundation of both Tai Chi and Kung Fu as well as being considered both part of, and precursor to, traditional Chinese Medicine.
- There are only a few simple rules: always move from the center, don’t lock the knees or bend the legs deeply; and arms remain neither limp nor rigid.
- All movements are done from a standing position
I discovered qigong when I looked at all the different types of yoga classes on offer at Triyoga. They offered qigong at their Camden, Shoreditch and Ealing branches. I attended the Sunday evening Ealing class.
Triyoga Ealing studio
I’ve never before been to a Triyoga studio, but if all the studios are even half as nice as the Ealing one, I want to go to Triyoga studios more often and stay there much longer. No wonder they have a shop and cafe because who would want to leave immediately after class when the space is so calm and beautiful? I will be returning to Triyoga Ealing in a few weeks for a Warm Vinyasa Flow class, but maybe I’ll join Triyoga and make it my go-to yoga and pilates spot..? #verytempted
So, is Qigong the same as yoga?
I would say a typical yoga class is 80% focused on the body and 20% on the mind: at the end of a yoga class my body feels strong and my mind centred, but the physical aspect is definitely larger than the mental or spiritual. In fact, if it wasn’t for the last 10 minutes of Savasana and/or the intention setting at the start of the class there wouldn’t be much of an spiritual aspect. (Of course, yoga is a way of life and built on Hindu principles with a spiritual core. What I’m speaking of here is an actual 1 hour class, not yoga as a whole.)
To me qigong felt the other way around with 20% focus on the body and 80% on the mind (energy or spirit). At the end of the class my mind was centred, I was relaxed and I felt totally zen. It was clear that the purpose of all the movements I was performing in qigong was to re-balance and clear the energy, whereas with yoga the purpose of the asanas is to make the body stronger through controlled movement.
I therefor won’t say qigong is “Chinese Yoga”. It’s similar in the sense that it’s a “softer” exercise than for instance HIIT, weightlifting or a spin class, but it’s not the same. Just as yoga isn’t pilates, qigong isn’t yoga.
The video below gives a very good idea of what the class was like. We performed about half of these movements over 75 minutes. (I don’t think the class needed to be 75 minutes long, it could easily have been done in 45 minutes.)
I don’t think I will continue with qigong. It was nice to experience it once and it has many benefits – in fact I think it will be especially good at times of stress to calm the mind if practised regularly – but I didn’t get enough out of it to warrant a regular practice. Yoga provides me with just the right amount of calm, challenge and centering that I need, and when I want to push myself harder I log onto Sworkit for a strength training workout with dumbbells.
Instructor: Hanna Luna
Location: Triyoga Ealing, Unit 30, Dickens Yard, Longfield Ave, W5 2UQ
Time: 16:45 – 18:00
Price: I paid £12.50 for my class because I took advantage of the 2 for £25 offer. One day passes at Triyoga are £18.
Date attended: Sunday, 12 January 2020
Yoga mats provided: No need for yoga mats as Qigong is done from standing.
Yoga intensity: According to my Fitbit Inspire HR, I burned 136 calories, with average bpm of 93 over 78 minutes.
Good to know: If you sign up for the Triyoga 2 for £25 offer, remember that you have to do your two classes within 30 days, and the 30 days start the day you take up the offer, i.e. pay the £25, not the day you attend your first class.
Something I learned: The qigong dynamic movements are used to balance the qi by redistributing the energy from areas with too much to areas with too little, and the static movements are used to harness qi.
If you like doing yoga in quirky places, outside, or in iconic London buildings, check out my list of Funky places to do yoga and pilates around London.