So you booked that really great Taijiquan or Qi Gong workshop in a couple of weeks? You are excited to go there and improve your skills?
I know from my own experience, that the exercises, skills and insights I learn during such workshops do not always last very long. But I want to change that. Because just like you, I will attend an intense 4-day-workshop soon. And I want to ensure that I benefit from it as much as possible.
So I wondered what would be the best things to do before, during and after the workshop? And thinking about my previous experiences, I came up with this list. I am sure it will help you, to get the most out of a Taijiquan or Qi Gong workshop, too.
What to do BEFORE a Taijiquan or Qi Gong workshop
Practice. So you shouldn’t be thinking “oh, I will practice this weekend anyway, so I can do less during the week”. Instead, try to be in a good shape!
Sleep. Well, this may sound easy, but really ensure that you sleep well before the workshop. I know, yawning is a good thing during Qi Gong, but you really want to be rested.
Take magnesium. Now this may sound like a strange advice, but I know from (painful) experience how sore muscles can get even with the subtle Taijiquan or Qi Gong moves. That is why I start taking magnesium pills a few days before the workshop. And of course: this is not a medical blog, so please consult your doctor or pharmacist if this is something that could be useful for you.
Pack a well-equipped bag. These are the things I would recommend you put into your bag (and obviously, most of it you can pack the evening before to avoid any last-minute-packing-stress)
- Bring comfortable clothes. You want to make sure that you do not sweat or freeze due to your clothes! So bring your favorite shoes, warm socks, comfortable trouser, a shirt and a warming jacket. I also recommend to take with you a large shawl. You can use it as an additional layer or to rest your head on or as a blanket (if you want to sleep during lunch break!).
- Bring a notepad and a pen. Do I really have to explain why you should bring something to write?
- Bring a camera (or use your mobile). You might want to take a picture with the teacher! Or, at the end of the workshop, ask some of the other students to videotape YOU doing the Taijiquan form or the Qi Gong exercises. That is a great way to look at the moves at home. Sometimes the teacher is so kind to allow you to tape him/her. You do not want to miss that opportunity! (And please be aware that you should not upload the video to a broader public without his or her permission!).
- Bring something to eat. I have a confession to make: I like to eat A LOT. So it’s really important for me to stay saturated all day long. The problem is: the workshops I attend are often in locations I am not familiar with. So I don’t know if & where I could have a nice lunch. Usually, some of the other participants go for lunch together (and that is a really good opportunity to make new friends!). However, sometimes I just want to use the lunch break to rest (= fall asleep instantly and only wake up as the teacher claps his hands). So I like to bring my own food. I recently liked the combination of nuts (to eat during shorter breaks), homemade cheese cookies (which really are saturating) and sugar free chia pudding (it’s nice to have s.th. sweet, too!).
- Bring warm water to drink. Just in case that you are new to this whole “we move so slowly”-community: if you want to look like a pro on your first workshop, you need to bring an insulated water bottle with warm water! And if you are not so new to Taijiquan and Qi Gong you will already know about the benefits of drinking warm water anyway, so get your thermos ready!
What to do DURING a Taijiquan or Qi Gong workshop
Focus on the workshop. Put off your phone!
Do not compare. I know it’s tempting to look at the other participants and think “oh, she gets into the snake further down than me” or “how come all others seem to enjoy (!) Zhan Zhuang?”. Just relax. This workshop is meant to bring value to YOU. It’s about YOUR development, YOUR skills, YOUR body, YOUR mind. So concentrate just on yourself! Of course you can learn from others and benefit from their questions. But everyone brings a different body, mind and background to the workshop. So don’t waste your breath on comparing yourself to others. Just absorb as much as you can to improve your own skills.
Ask questions. I know, especially as a beginner, it can be intimidating to ask a world-renowned master a question. But believe me: there are no stupid questions. Actually, the answers to the most basic questions are usually the best nuggets of wisdom!
Take notes. You do not need to script everything that is being said during the workshop, just take some basic notes. Maybe you want to remember what was said about a specific hand movement. Or write down that inspiring quote.
Positive vibes only. Enjoy the workshop! While you most likely expect the teacher to bring a positive vibe, you can enhance the learning atmosphere with being positive yourself. And you might want to read “if you have nothing nice to say,…”.
Sleep. If the workshop stretches out over a couple of days, make sure you get a lot of rest! It’s nice to socialize with the other participants and maybe even the teacher in the evening, but make sure to go to bed early enough.
What to do AFTER a Taijiquan or Qi Gong workshop
Practice. Start right the day after the workshop! It may seem tempting to just pause for one day, but really just start right away. Your memory will be the best. AND I was told that of course, there is a lot of Qi going on during Taijiquan and Qi Gong workshops. The best way to store and benefit from all that Qi is to start practicing at home right away!
Have a look at your notes. Add all the details or insights you remember. Maybe you even have a video to look at.
Connect with the other participants. This could start with just sharing your notes. Or if you live in the same city, meet and practice together!
Practice, practice, practice some more. Cultivate what you learned during the workshop. Do it every day for a couple of weeks or even better for months. That is the only way to make sure that you will really incorporate those moves! It doesn’t have to be perfect. But just continue practicing and you will reap all the benefits.
I think these tips are all very easy to execute. And they will help you to get the most out of your next Taijiquan or Qi Gong workshop.
I know for sure I will do all of them preparing for that great 4-day-workshop I signed up for. Just in case you want to know: it will be a Taijiquan fan workshop with Foen Tjoeng Lie at my local club (Taiji Qigong München e.V.). I am so excited, because the fan, as you may know, is really my weapon of choice!