confessions of a qi gong teacher

February 18, 2014

I asked Ergül Ergün what had prompted her to start doing qi gong and I thought it was a pretty interesting story, so here I have printed it for all to read. Ergül teaches qi gong on Friday mornings in our studio at Kalamış, Istanbul (annezen/ Momma Zen). Thank you Ergül. If you would like to join the class, please send an email to info@momma-zen.com or see our contact details on https://www.facebook.com/mommazennaturals

My Beloved Spine

I started to develop a bad posture when I was a teenager. My mum, my dad, my elderly relatives and my teachers kept telling me endlessly to ‘stand upright’. This sentence still echoes in my mind. Yet I developed even worse posture by trying to be ‘upright’, my belly at the front, a big arch at the lower back and rigid shoulders. This was the closest I could get to being ‘upright’. I found a specialist doctor. All he said to my mother was “there is nothing wrong with her spine. It will improve with sport”. He didn’t give any further direction and I did all sorts of sports to correct my posture. Yet I became more and more bent like a weak willow tree.  Then I started to experience chronic pain in my back and my neck and I just in my late 20’s. I was thinking that if it is like this now, how do I survive middle and old age? I also used to have a weak immune system. I very often had a cold and it didn’t matter whether it was summer or winter.

While I was living in the UK, with the pressure of my friends, I went to another specialist at the musculoskeletal unit of a hospital as a last attempt. I was in my mid 30’s then. I was told that I had scoliosis and kyphosis, which was most likely genetic. There was nothing I could do, apart from pain management with some physiotherapy exercises, which I regularly did to relieve the pain. Afterwards, not surprisingly, I developed disc hernia in the lower back because when there is a structural problem in the spine, it is more likely to cause other spinal problems. I was an active mountaineer back then and the condition limited my life enormously. I got tired very easily, couldn’t do housework and couldn’t even carry a kilogram, let alone walking in the mountains. I thought “this is it then”.

I come across spinal qigong in those difficult days. It wasn’t easy to erect my spine at the beginning. Yet each time I come out of the class uplifted. I could breathe better and I felt a bit more upright.  It was such a great experience being able to stand a bit more erect. The spinal qigong didn’t only help my back. The front of my body felt more at ease, my lungs, my stomach and all other internal organs felt better. Then gradually, not only my lower back problems healed, but my posture was much better. I didn’t get tired so easily, my immune system improved. This was one of the greatest gifts of my life and if I had met with it when I was a teenager, my life could have been very different. I decided that I wanted to share this gift along with other classical qigong forms that I was teaching. From practicing and teaching spinal qigong, I became more aware of how badly we use our spine.

To benefit from spinal qigong, it is not necessary to have classical spinal problems like kyphosis, lordosis, scoliosis or disc hernia or other problems. Most people in modern society have posture problems because of our lifestyle and working conditions. As a result of sitting so many hours in front of a desk, slouching in front of the television or doing repetitive asymmetric movements, we develop neck, shoulder or back pain and stiffness. The health of the spine is essential as the central nervous system has its main pathway through the spine with the spinal cord and also very important acupuncture points for vital internal organs lie next to the spine. Additionally, one of the first structures which develops in a foetus is the spine. The spine is a short cut to body’s energy levels. Even a minor change on the spine can have a major impact in the whole body and wellbeing. How young we are is directly related to how young, strong and flexible our spine is.

Ergül Ergün, PhD

Qigong trainer and Shiatsu Practitioner

Graduated from Shiatsu College- UK, accredited by Shiatsu Society, UK

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