Qigong: Exploring the Five Elements

217 TUTOR: Mark Pogson

Discover some simple energy-based exercises closely related to tai chi that support your wellbeing and vitality. You will learn aspects of qigong or 'energy cultivation' related to the five 'moving forces' to help you feel more alive. The exercises involve flowing stretches and postures, which will improve your awareness of how energy moves through you and through nature in general. In addition to Five Element theory and insights from Taoism and oriental medicine, you will also learn some self-massage, meditation and relaxing breathing techniques. This course is suitable for those with a moderate level of fitness and a curiosity in subtle experiential bodywork and awareness.

Course Notes

Qigong (or Chi Kung) means "energy cultivation” or "skilful breathing” and is considered a pillar of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Qigong dates back over 3,000 years and is still practised by thousands of people every day in the Far East. Qigong is used in hospitals in China as an integral part of their healthcare system. Its benefits are now becoming more widely recognised in the West and there is an increasing body of research to support Qigong and its positive effects.

Qigong promotes relaxation, and improves health, and wellbeing by combining flowing movement with deep breathing and focusing the mind. It incorporates breathing techniques, stretches, natural movements, standing postures, self massage, special walking methods and meditation.

Qigong is often compared to the more widely known Tai Chi, but unlike traditional martial Tai Chi Chuan which can take many years to master, Qigong is fairly simple to learn and its benefits can be felt almost immediately.

This course will be highly practical and will include the following core topics:

- What is Qi and how to sense it

- Wuji stance - how to stand

- Abdominal breathing and Intention (Yi)

- Qigong foundation exercises (more than warm-ups)

- Taoist style meditation

- Self massage techniques for removing energy stagnation

- Meridian stretches

- What are the Five Elements or Phases?

- Energetic resonances of Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water

- Body Language and emotion

- Exploring the energetic expression of these Five "moving forces”

- How to end a session correctly

- How to maintain a regular practice

Core exercises for this Five Element Qigong course will be moderately strenuous with both dynamic and gentle movements and will involve refining your awareness and breath to experience the energy or life force move in different ways. The main practice will be based on cherry picked exercises to explore how energy feels and moves through us and its resonances and associations according to the ancient Chinese. We will also learn a gentle short flowing form called The Tao Form.

Where weather permits, some sessions will take place outdoors.

Background reading

The Theory and Practice of Taij Qigong by Chris Jarmey (Lotus Publishing)

A very useful book particularly for the Qigong for relaxation course. Includes a detailed explanation of the eighteen exercises.

The Way of Energy by Lam Kam Chuen (Gaia Books)

Includes detailed instruction on the Eight Brocades and standing meditation

The Way of Qigong by Kenneth S. Cohen (Ballantine Books)

A more comprehensive introduction to all aspects of Qigong practice

Equipment requirements

Participants should wear loose fitting sports/yoga wear, flat, soft shoes such as "tai chi slippers”, light trainers or plimsolls (indoor practice can be done without footwear). Participants should bring a blanket and cushion for floor work and meditation. Yoga mats are also beneficial but not essential.

Website: Somerset School of Oriental Healing Arts: www.ssoha.org.uk

Course Tutor

Mark Pogson

Mark Pogson

About Mark

Mark Pogson Bsc(Hons) MRSS has over 25 years' experience of Tai Chi and Qigong and has studied widely with many gifted teachers. He is registered as an A Grade Instructor with The Tai Chi Union for Great Britain. Over the years Mark has practiced different styles of Yoga too, including Astanga and Iyengar. He has also studied Kum Nye (Tibetan Yoga).

Mark is a qualified Shiatsu practitioner (Japanese Acupressure massage) and has run a Shiatsu practice in Somerset for over 16 years. In 2005 Mark established The Somerset School of Oriental Healing Arts. His previous experience includes working in nature conservation, environmental education and supporting adults with learning disabilities.

Mark runs regular Qigong classes (with lots of stretching!) across Somerset and has taught at spas, health clubs, complementary health clinics and festivals. His passionate belief in the powerful benefits of Qigong have also led him to teach mental health in-patients, people diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease, prison inmates and disadvantaged young people. He has been developing his own style, known as "Magpie Qigong”, which draws on methods and techniques from various traditions and styles of Qigong and Tai Chi, particularly Medical Qigong.

Mark is well regarded for his extensive knowledge of oriental healing arts, his combination of innovation with a respect for tradition, his calm, supportive approach, and his ability to engage with participants. He returns to MCSS for the tenth year.

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Summer School Dates for 2024

All courses run for 5 days

WK 1 8 Jul - 12 Jul

WK 2 15 Jul - 19 Jul

WK 3 22 Jul - 26 Jul

WK 4 29 Jul - 2 Aug

Morning Courses

9.15AM to 12.15PM

Afternoon Courses

1.45PM to 4.30PM

All Day Courses

9.15AM to 4.30PM