// Brighten the eyes and lighten the heart with Chi Dance
by Lynley Gladdis
This combination introduces curved punches into your routines.
WHAT IS CHI?
‘Chi is the breath of the Universe’ - Grand Master Gary Khor, (Living Chi)
Chi, pronounced ‘chee’ and also written as ‘qi’, is the life-giving energy that unites the body, mind, and spirit. Chi is present within every person and within the environment. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chi flows through the body via energy pathways called meridians, which could be compared with a river system. If one of the streams gets a branch caught in it, other detritus will back up behind it causing a cessation in the flow of water. This in turn creates a dam and an excess of water before the blockage, and a lack of water beyond the blockage. This creates an imbalance in the energy through the body.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, health is not measured just with isolation of the problem area. Rather, health relates to the whole person – physically, emotionally and psychologically. If the Chi is strong, balanced, focused, and flowing freely throughout the body, a person will be in good health. If the Chi becomes blocked or stagnates, however, it results in ill health.
Tai Chi and Qi Gong (Chi Kung) are two ancient movement forms that help to shift the Chi and maintain the balance both physically and mentally.
WHAT IS DANCE?
‘Dance is movement, is action, and like all action, it reveals us to ourselves in the doing’ - Gabrielle Roth, the ‘urban shaman’
Dance is one of the oldest art forms. It is a style of expression that uses rhythmic movements that can be choreographed, patterned or improvised, and is usually accompanied by music.
The power of dance is universal, both in time and place. It is not confined to one country, no period of ancient or modern history, and to no plane of human culture. Through the ages dance has been performed for purposes ranging from the ceremonial, religious and magical to the theatrical, social and simply aesthetic. It has been used for centuries for ceremony, healing and meditation.
Dance does not have to be a series of complex steps linked together to form choreography. It can be as simple as swaying to a beat, tapping a foot or movement in any form. Dance is everywhere in nature, from the swaying of plants in a breeze to the complex rituals performed by some animal species.
WHAT IS CHIDANCE?
‘When Chi flows through the meridians, it ultimately enters every cell in the body. Without a steady flow of Chi, our bodies do not receive full nourishment’ - Dr Hong Liu, author Mastering Miracles
ChiDance borrows from Tai Chi, Qi Gong, dance, yoga, Feldenkrais, the ChiBall Method (developed by Monica Linford) and deep relaxation techniques and movement patterns to shift blocked Chi and assist in reducing stress. Repetitive patterns help to calm the restless or busy mind. ChiDance incorporates the following:
• Tai Chi and Qi Gong-based movement is used in the warm up phase of the class to begin to shift Chi and unblock meridians. It gently warms and stretches the body.
• Dance/aerobic-based movements are used to raise the heat and stimulate the flow of Chi. It is a time when the class can begin to explore movement and be a bit creative. It does not matter what style of dance you use – salsa, belly dance, Bollywood or more contemporary styles – just move to the music!
• Yoga-based moves are used to maintain the heat and to then slowly reduce the heat and start cooling the body. The stretches assist with increasing flexibility and opening up the energy pathways.
• Feldenkrais-based movements are used to shift any last blockages and assist with letting go of any tension that is still being held physically or mentally.
• Deep relaxation completes the journey to find complete balance and harmony physically, mentally and emotionally.
For some, ChiDance is about moving to music and self expression; for others it is about letting go of stress and tension and discovering a sense of balance and calmness. Whatever purpose participants have for being in the class, it brightens the eyes and lightens the heart – ChiDance is to be enjoyed.
‘Of circles and flowing patterns, both repetitive and free, rather than mere sterile exercise. I say ... stretch boundaries ... let the music, mind and movement encourage the flow of chi – and release the dancer within us all’ - Judy McKenzie (class participant)
The music for ChiDance needs to be something that you enjoy moving to. If you are enjoying moving, your class participants will too. Use music that you like but do not make it inaccessible to your participants. Remember that you are normally teaching to a broad cross section of the population. Participants will often bring music in for you to listen to – they are a great resource!
• Music speed should be approximately 110 bpm.
• Get to know your music so that you know what is coming up and use its dynamics in your teaching. Know your music well enough to feel it rather than count it.
• The music is used to help create the atmosphere and feel of the movement.
Do not be afraid to use music that is not a square beat! In group fitness we normally use a square beat and 32 count phrases, but this can be limiting when trying to find music that creates mood. Try using music that has 6 count phrases! Play with rhythms. As long as you know them well your class will feel comfortable following you. It is all about trust.
All movements are valid! In life we tend to move in straight lines – forward and back, side to side – so experiment with curves, turns and spirals.
• The movements used are based on Tai Chi, Qi Gong and dance in the moving section of the class. Yoga is used in a slow ‘adagio’ style sequence of movement.
• Use Yin Yang principles – soft/hard, quick/slow, big/small, up/down, forward/back.
• If you can teach it and the participants are moving to music and enjoying the experience, you are ChiDancing.
Let go of expectations and self-consciousness. It takes a while for the mind to yield control. Don’t be surprised if the mind becomes rebellious, argumentative or bored. Let it play itself out. Feel. Breathe. Breath is life, movement, voice. Use verbal language and imagery to describe the movements.
To experience ChiDance, practice the sample choreography below for the ‘Snake and Swallow’ routine, and use the images over the page.
There is a bit of insanity in dancing that does everybody a great deal of good - Edwin Denby, poet and dance critic
Lynley Gladdis, DipRem Massage
Lynley is a graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts and has been involved in the fi tness industry for 17 years. An international instructor trainer with a wealth of knowledge in all areas of mind body fi tness, she is the master trainer for the ChiBall Method™ in Australia and New Zealand and a key Pilates presenter for Australian Fitness Network.
NETWORK • SUMMER 2008 • PP16-19