Oftentimes in life, we look to teachers to bestow knowledge upon us. This might work for static knowledge, like history or a language, but Qigong is different. Qigong, being a subtle art, is difficult to teach directly. You must learn the essence of the practice and then work with it yourself to really figure it out.
Qigong, like many other arts, is an “experiential art”. This means that you can’t learn it’s essence from just reading about it. The only way to truly get to know it is through daily practice. You first learn the movements, then you practice them over and over again, each time building on the previous experience. You won’t learn how to ride a horse by reading books on riding horses, right? Of course not, you’d have to actually hop on a horse to learn it.
It’s important to train with a teacher when you first begin so that you can pick up the basics and practice correctly. Otherwise, you could potentially learn some bad habits. For example, if your posture is not correct, you put strain on your joints and lower back and actually do damage to the body. Likewise, you’ll want to ensure you understand natural breathing and the core concepts of Qigong meditation. Once you have these basics, they are yours to practice and refine forever. This will also enable you to better interpret other teachings you might get, whether through video, books or other media.
When I was shown my first Qigong movements years ago, my teacher said “Don’t ask questions, just practice this for 6 months, then come back and ask questions if any remain”. At first I didn’t understand, but after practicing for 6 months, I realized I had answered all the questions I thought I had about the movement. As you work with the movement, you figure it out in your own language and in your own terms. The questions you have in the beginning are intellectual questions, and you realize after practicing that it’s not an intellectual art, like math or physics, rather it’s something you have to feel to understand.