I am just back from my trip to China and it was a great experience. I visited Beijing, Shaolin, Wudangshan and Shanghai. It was great visiting the parks and temples in Beijing where I saw a lot of qigong being practiced early in the mornings.
One of the first parks I visited in Beijing was Jingshan park which is just to the north of forbidden city and is largely made up of a mound of earth that was created by the excavations for building the forbidden city.
As I entered the park I saw a few people doing different exercises and some people running and so on, maybe a couple of people doing Taiji, and I was curious what else I would find as I wandered around in the early morning. I was keen to see what types of exercise I would find and was of course particularly interested to see qigong and kung fu. After a few minutes I heard some shouting from further up the hill and went to investigate thinking that maybe it was some people doing kung fu, I wasn’t expecting what I found.
About a third of the way up the hill I found a small group of people doing qigong self massage exercises. Slightly off to one side was a man shouting instructions of what to do. Every minute or so he would shout loudly and call out a new instruction and everyone would move on to the next section of their exercises. Then I noticed that there were more people about ten metres away who were also following along with the exercises, then as I kept looking I noticed more people even further away in pockets following along with the exercises. While there were maybe twenty people in the immediate area doing the execises, across a greater area of maybe fifty metres or more in each direction there might have been seventy or eighty people doing the exercises – no wonder he was yelling.
I was also impressed with how matter of fact they were about what they were doing. There didn’t seem to be any faux mysticism about it, they were simply going through their daily health regimen and enjoying themselves while they were doing it. Many of them were even having quite active conversations with each other in pockets as they still listened out the for next instruction from the guy doing the yelling. Later they moved on to doing mobility based qigong exercises so that their whole qigong session lasted maybe an hour and a half. I thought it was great to see such a large group doing qigong together in a down to earth and enjoyable way.
As I walked around Jingshan park more and visited other parks as well I saw many other people doing many different types of qigong. I saw people doing walking qigong, various standing post exercises, tai ji, weapons forms with swords, fans, canes and poles and even people doing some of the more obscure types of qigong like tree shaking or doing routines with a short wand.
It was great to see the diversity of qigong exercises being practiced. In addition to this I saw many people engaged in all sorts of other types of exercise in the parks. It was wonderful to see so many people enjoying the outdoors and each others company while being physically active.
All up it was a great trip, but it is good to be back and I will be announcing the dates for the next qigong workshops soon.