I'm sure you've spent time looking around YouTube for qigong and tai chi videos. According to their website, people upload 24 hours of video to YouTube every minute! No doubt you've seen some crazy stuff. So how do you sift through all of it and more importantly, are there any qigong videos on YouTube worth watching?
How to Practice with YouTube Qigong Videos
As you will see from the videos below, there is a blend of instructional content, guided practice, and demonstration. You have to get creative when you are borrowing from a source like online video to boost your practice. Sometimes you will just do a quick check-in. Sometimes you will sit and watch an entire lesson.
But I don't recommend trying to do your practice and darting back and forth to the computer at the same time.
If the video has good audio guidance that can run in the background, great. Otherwise, just watch it once or twice and then go and practice. I'll try to point out key places in each video where you can see skilled practitioners demonstrating things they aren't necessarily talking about.
This introduction to standing by Lam Kam Chuen is one of my favorite overviews of the practice. He talks a little bit about the background of the practice and gives just enough instruction to get you started. If you already have a standing practice, it's worth watching because you can revisit some of the overarching reasons to do this qigong method.
The entire channel is worth watching once you've gone through the introductory clip.
Simple Circling Hands
The natural transition from standing practice is to start repetitive movements. In standing, you tune into internal rhythms that only become obvious because there is no external movement. Circling Hands is a great bridge because your external movements are simple enough that you can let the internal rhythms drive them.
Watch as Paul Cavel performs Circling Hands:
The most important thing you can get from this YouTube qigong video is the way his whole body opens and closes, pulsing from the center, outward.Â
Exploring Internal Flows
In the next video, Robert Tangora explains how to activate the two main energy flows that run your body: Center-to-Periphery and Heaven-to-Earth. He teaches two different exercises to highlight these flows. Like Paul's demonstration above, if you practice these exercises you will begin to feel the "pulls" through the body.
It's worth pointing out that while you may or may not be able to feel what he's describing right away, every teacher I've ever had insists that you need to develop the internal sensitivity to these subtle movements through a standing or sitting practice.
Transitioning into More Movement
Each mode of qigong practice gives you access to something different. "Quiet" practices like standing qigong or sitting meditation allow you to develop your internal awareness with as little physical coordination as possible.
Moving practices do two things: they develop rhythm and they challenge your ability to maintain internal focus because of the ever-changing external conditions.
In these next two videos, we're going to introduce more movement, first by adding weight-shifting and turning, then by looking at the qigong set with the most complicated external form: Tai Chi.
Try this "Rolling the Ball" exercise to see if you can maintain some of the internal awareness primed in the earlier qigong videos:
Obviously, this last video isn't designed to be instructional or a follow-along practice. Instead, I want you to watch it and see if you can pick up some of the things we've looked at in the other YouTube qigong videos in this post.
Can you see internal continuity? Opening and closing? Center-to-Periphery and Heaven-to-Earth flows?
The secret to training your eyes to see more subtle movement patterns is to look at someone's movements, in this case Tai Chi master Bruce Frantzis, and try to feel inside your own body what he must be doing to create those movements.
I hope this post gives you some ideas about how to use YouTube qigong videos to improve your own practice. Got any favorites that I've left out? Be sure to let me know in the comments.