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Try this: Close your eyes, standing feet hip width apart with a slight bend in your knees. Now turn your focus onto your breathing, in and out, leaving all other thoughts to the wayside, in and out. Sounds fairly simple just focusing on breathing, nothing else. Until that errant thought runs through your head, “What should I have for lunch today?” or “Did I send that email?” And then your mind is away thinking about anything but that most basic human function: breathing.

Recently Marcello from Tattersalls gym kindly organised for all our staff to attend six weeks of Qigong sessions. Qigong is the term used to describe various Chinese systems of physical and mental training for health, martial arts and self-enlightenment.

The simplest aspect of this, as our instructor Sifu Nick informed us, is breathing. So over six sessions Sifu Nick talked us through how to focus on our breathing and the energy that flows through us from the earth and how that breath disperses the energy within and out of us. A difficult concept to envision when coming from the scientific background of physiotherapy.

Combined with the breathing, Qigong entails certain movements and positions of the body that again while seeming simple were actually quite difficult. More than one leg was shaking with fatigue after only a brief period of time. We also did some partner exercises, where we were attempting to push one another over but had to resist by absorbing that force into our legs and through to the ground. This was initially tough, but when you started to relax and figure out how to position the body correctly it became much easier to manage and we began to feel the energy flow through our body that Sifu Nick had explained.

Seeing as it was a very simple beginner course it was hard to see where this feeds into the martial arts. A quick demonstration from Sifu Nick and Marcello showed us how, with long training and perfection, Qigong can render you very fast, strong and focused. Trust me; you wouldn’t want to cross these guys in a dark alley.

Sifu Nick did an excellent job of guiding us through the initial stages of Qigong and we would like to thank him and Marcello for the great work that they did. We are sure to take away the lessons we have learnt from Qigong, the most important of which is just to relax, breathe and be in control of our thoughts.