Massage & Bodywork

May/June 2012

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where the boat slips through the water. If there are holes in the sail, you're going to have qi deficiency; if the mast is weak and moves, it will move the boat forward, but there is deficiency; if there are barnacles on the hull of the boat, it's not going to slip through the water efficiently, and there is deficiency." Burgess tells clients, "If we're deficient somewhere, there is too much somewhere else; if we're hot somewhere, we're going to be cold somewhere else." His goal with clients is to free, balance, and distribute the qi. Litter, now a qigong teacher himself, says the goal of qigong massage is to flush energy. "The underlying principle," he says, "is that energy is tight, congested, or blocked. Healthy energy your body needs is held up." All problems—physical, emotional, and mental—have an energetic root to them, Litter says. "Qigong work says let go of the blockages. Let them soften, clear them, get rid of them. Then two things happen: a physical or emotional problem goes away, and then the whole body is more open because the natural energy of the body is flowing better, and the body then functions better. We want to encourage the flushing out of the energy." Litter says theoretically, "the energy is supposed to come down through your body from head to toe, travel into you from the top, travel through your body, then go into the ground. Blockages and problems and excessive thinking cause us to hold onto that energy, so it's coming down through our head, and we're not letting it leave and go into the ground. So the goal of qigong is to get it to shift and go downward." Yang says within Chinese qigong massage, therapists work from top to bottom and from the center to the sides, in an effort to lead excess qi out of the client's body. In order to do this, you must know all of the qi gates and junctions and how to stimulate them in sequence along the channels, he says. "If your qi is in correspondence with your client's, they will be able to use their own mind to lead their qi in synchronization with your movements to smooth their own qi," Yang says. "This skin-to-skin contact also allows the qi to pass between you and your client so you can nourish each other." Ultimately, Yang says, "Massage is a meditation. It does not matter if you massage someone or are massaged, you should coordinate with your breathing Lynda McCullough is a Colorado freelance health writer and yoga instructor. Passionate about bodywork and the movement arts, she enjoys teaching and writing about them whenever the opportunity arises. Contact her at and develop the deep feeling. If you do it correctly, [qigong] massage will be a very high level of qi exchange between giver and receiver." EAST AND WEST INTEGRATE Yang expects to see qigong and qigong massage become even more popular in the West. "Since Chinese acupuncture and medical concepts have rapidly influenced Western medicine in the last two decades, eventually qigong and qigong massage will become part of Western treatment," he says. "This can be seen in famous medical institutions such as Harvard University, Tufts University, and the Dana- Farber Cancer Institute, which have already gotten involved in qigong treatment for patients."

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