How to Relax in Qigong Practice

In our Nei Shi system of Qigong (Art of Looking Inward), we say that Qigong practice is three things: breathing, relaxing and moving. Let’s take a look at relaxing and how to actually accomplish it.

First, you can’t actively be part of the relaxing process. You can’t relax by doing. You can only relax by “not doing”. If you can grasp that, then you have all you need to begin practicing. While the theory is simple, actually being able to go into a state of “not doing” will take a little practice.

There are many things that happen when you attempt to enter into a state of non-doing. First, you might not feel relaxed or that you can let go. This is quite normal. There’s nothing that says just because you think you want to relax, you will. There are many other factors that go into a relaxed state of being.

Tension in your body, whether it be in the muscles, tendons, bones or organs, will dictate how well you can relax. With physical tension, you will reach only a superficial level of relaxation. It might not even feel good. So removing physical tension is a good first step to relaxing.

Most importantly though – you just want to become aware of how you feel without judging. This is a huge secret to the practice, and one you will definitely need to practice (possibly for years, depending on how stubborn you are). When we try practicing Qigong and we feel tense, we might judge and think “oh, this is hard” or “oh, I can’t do this today”. The simple fact that you have tension means you NEED to relax at that moment. It doesn’t mean it’ll be perfect. But you must take a step in the right direction.

So let go, and begin by performing a very deep exhale. Even an exaggerated exhale, and outright sigh. Make it vocal if you want. If it feels good, do it again. Relax your shoulders. Pay attention to your body, I guarantee you will begin instantly to feel some slight feelings of relaxation.

Once you’ve used a few breaths to jump into it, scan your body, and start noticing tension. Again, use your breath to release this tension in whatever part of the body it may be.

Finally – enjoy relaxing. If you don’t enjoy it, you won’t do it.

There are nights when I practice where my body is calling for relaxation, and it feels exactly right for the moment. When you can listen to your body and deliver what it needs, you will be on the right path.

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