Those of us who practice Shaolin Qigong and Kungfu continuously reap the benefits of a rich art which enhances our lives every single day- physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. We pass through our lives feeling joyous, alert, and generally free of the niggling little things which bother most people, like aches and pains, allergies, and even seasonal colds and flus. If these things do bother us, they tend to pass faster and not be as intense as they would be without our training. But even this practice can bring about discomfort and other undesirable effects if we train too hard. So how do we identify the signs of over-training and what do we do about them?
First, it is important to distinguish between wrong training and over-training. Wrong training can be directly traced back to improper practice. This means not following instructions or deliberately tensing while performing qigong or Kungfu patterns. These pains can be sharper and not go away even with rest. If that is the case, then seek advice from your instructor and go back to the basics.
So, what if you’re doing everything right and you still feel off? Signs of over-training are varied. You can feel exceptionally tired, you can have dull aches in your joints, especially the big joints like your elbows, hips, and knees. These are places where our qi tends to stagnate as our body is pushing a blockage out. Sometimes you can feel nauseous or notice strange rashes or pimples. Last year during Grandmaster Wong’s advanced Small Universe course in Malaysia, after just one day of training my face broke out like I was 15 years old again. After a few days of rest, my skin cleared up and indeed looked better than it had in years.
Why is it that an art which helps us so much can cause these things? Simply put, sometimes it can be too much energy for our bodies to process all at once. Toxins and negative energy which usually leave the body in a controlled fashion, exit too quickly and discomfort results. Have you ever had a massage or an acupuncture treatment where you were extremely tired afterwards? Have you taken a course with Grandmaster Wong and found yourself fighting to stay awake? That’s because your body is processing too much energy all at once. Its natural reaction in that instance is to shut down and put you to sleep so it can process everything.
What then, can we do once we’ve identified signs that we’re over-training? First, take a look at how much you’re training. If it’s two sessions a day, cut down to one. Reduce the amount of time training, or the amount of repetitions of a particular exercise, or both if need be. Second, don’t go as deeply into a qigong state of mind. If you usually take a minute to do this, then just take a few seconds. Take a few days to just practice your qigong as a gentle physical exercise until you feel better. If need be, take a few days off of your training. Allowing your body time to recuperate and internalize all of the energy you’ve been generating will allow you to return fresh to your practice and often will help you break through to higher levels of training.
Because Shaolin Cosmos Qigong and Kungfu are such highly effective arts, helping students identify the signs of over-training and cleansing (which I will discuss in next week’s post) is one of the first things I talk about in our weekly classes. Sometimes there will be a bump or two on the road to health. That’s pretty normal. Knowing what to do helps smooth out that ride.