It’s always a risk to put a class on the schedule that has a name that no one recognizes. I have taken just this kind of risk by creating Zhong Dao. But, the name is such a perfect reflection of this combination Qigong Energy work and Yoga class that I just can’t call it by any other name!
First, I think that we can examine what the different elements of the class are for clarity. One aspect of the practice of Zhong Dao is inspired by Qigong. Qigong is a system of exercises that allow the practitioner to “learn how to control the flow and distribution of qi to improve the health and harmony of mind and body (Cohen 3).” What precisely is qi? Qi (pronounced: chee—as if you were going to say cheese without the “se”) has been translated in many different ways, but one that can be helpful for beginners and is especially appropriate for this context, is that qi is life energy. Gong means to work. Qigong is a “wholistic system of self-healing exercise and meditation, an ancient, evolving practice that includes healing posture, movement, self-massage, breathing techniques, and meditation (Cohen 4).”
Second, what is the connection between this Chinese Qigong practice and yoga? “In India, the life energy, prana, is described as flowing through thousands of subtle-energy veins, the nadis. One of the goals of Yoga is to accumulate more prana through breath control exercises (pranayama) and physical postures (asana) (Cohen 26).” One system of Yoga that has incorporated Chinese yin-yang theory is Yin Yoga. One of Paul Grilley’s students, Sarah Powers, has written a beautiful book called Insight Yoga that shows the Chinese energy patterns (meridians) and yoga asana that activate different energy meridians in the body.
Zhong means middle or center and Dao means path or way. Therefore, this practice is the middle way and a way to create a sense of balance and ease in the body and mind. This practice is designed to relieve stress and tension in the body so that there is equilibrium in the spirit, the immune system is supported and optimum health can be maintained. We do some gentle stretching and energy warm-ups followed by a practice of the Eight Brocades and end every practice session with a healing meditation.
Hope to see you on Saturdays for Zhong Dao at 10:30am!
Here are some excellent references for Yoga and Qigong:
The Way of Qigong: The Art and Science of Chinese Energy Healing. Written by Kenneth S. Cohen. Ballantine Books, New York: 1997.
Insight Yoga. Written by Sarah Powers. Shambhala Publications, Boston & London: 2008.
Yin Yoga: Outline of a Quiet Practice. Written by Paul Grilley. White Cloud Press, Ashland, Oregon: 2002.
YOGA MATRIKA is located at 6520 Wilkins Avenue in the Squirrel Hill/Point Breeze neighborhoods of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. You can reach Sharon by calling (412) 855-5692.