I am passionate about Taijiquan and Qi Gong. And I am a woman. And I think that women are a bit underrepresented in the Tai Chi and Qi Gong world. I mean, look at all the big masters, they are mainly men! So I want to raise the awareness for all the wonderful women in our community. And Saumya Comer is the first one!
Let me first tell you, how I “found” Saumya Comer. Some time ago I read about a conference, the Immortal Sisters Conference. It will happen in August 2017. Even though I cannot go there, I still reached out to the organization team. Because I think that idea (and the title!) is just so amazing. Saumya Comer is one of the organizers.
Tell us a bit about yourself:
I’m Saumya Comer, Qigong and Somatic enthusiast, practitioner and instructor. I remember when I first began to realize the depth and scope of Qigong. I had been a Somatic therapist for many years but was passionate to learn more. I came across a Qigong class in my neighborhood, took the plunge and registered. What a wonderful surprise this new field of study turned out to be.
The longer I studied Qigong the more I understood that the ancient Taoists were the true masters of embodiment. All of the principles of movement, alignment, grace, equanimity, strength and power that I had studied in the field of Somatics were components of Qigong but Qigong felt deeper with broader perceptions of nature and energy. I was particularly drawn to the Qigong alchemical mediations and learning how we, as human beings, can harness the forces of nature to assist us in transforming negative energies into positive opportunities.
I have been hooked by Qigong and Taoism ever since.
Please share some details of your Qi Gong journey!
I would describe my life’s journey as a true blend of the East and the West. My enduring passion is the practice of embodied rest and movement that supports flexibility and strength in body, mind and spirit. These are all fundamental Qigong principles.
I have been in private practice as a Somatic therapist for 33 years. Along my path of self discovery I have burrowed into the practices of Yoga, Aikido, Aston-Patterning with Judith Aston, Continuum, Sensory Awareness with Charlotte Selver, meditation retreats with Adyashanti, Contact Improvisation, Chi Nei Tsang with Mantak Chia, biodynamic cranial, visceral and lymphatic manual therapies with John Upledger, Bruno Chickly, Jean Pierre Barral and Frank Lowen, Eutony with Joyce Riveros, and QiGong with Mantak Chia, Dr. Jerry Johnson and many different Qigong professors at Les Temps du Corps in Paris, France.
I now teach mostly in Portland, Oregon and Paris, France during the springtime but I also make teaching trips elsewhere throughout the year. I offer professional trainings in Chi Nei Tsang Abdominal Massage and professional trainings in Somatics and Body Wisdom Qigong, which represents the body of my work. I find much gratification teaching and sharing this refined and life changing work.
Wow, it’s amazing to see how many different, yet connected practices you have experience in!
Finish this sentence: When I started learning Qi Gong, I would have liked to know…
When I began my training in Qigong I would have liked to have been taught more yin, softer approaches to Qigong. I felt lucky that I already had the soft yin approach of the Somatic discipline principles firmly integrated into my body. I was able to apply this gentle approach to the more yang oriented Qigong that I was learning. For example, the understanding that Qigong begins with a feeling, a felt sense, a tangible feeling within the body. So often people will use a more dictatorial approach of telling the body what to do, the body as an object rather than something that we are, a form from which to connect with and work from.
Is there anything that you specifically learnt from your first teacher that you still remember? A lesson or insight that you keep dear to your heart?
A Qigong gem I will always remember is one of my favorite quotes from Mantak Chia:
“Without your Tan Tien, you are nobody”
This has served me well as a strong reminder to always stay connected to myself, specifically by dropping the excess energies in my head and heart down to my Tan Tien center. This helps me to follow my own compass. It is from my Tan Tien where I know who I am and where I know what is true for me at any given moment. I think this is especially important for women and one very important reason why we are organizing the Immortal Sisters Conference.
That is really a great quote! As a mother of two young kids, I surely need a strong reminder to stay connected with myself during turbulent times.
What are you currently practicing? Do you have any personal goals in Qi Gong?
It is my enduring curiosity of the study of movement and our natural powers of regeneration that has kept me on this path for so many years. I am fascinated by the relationship between movement, self regeneration and self expression. Qigong goes with me everywhere, that is one of the real bonuses of Qigong, one can practice Qigong anytime and everywhere. I take delight in how my daily movements can follow the principles of Qigong.
My daily practice varies depending on what my body is telling me it needs. But within the variations of my practice I always include some stretching the fascia with gravity, tendon stretching from the practice of Tao Yin and strengthening the tendons with the Iron Shirt poses and other standing poses from Yoga. I also include the dynamic movement practices of Hui Chun Gong, Five Animal Qigong, and for dance, Tango and Contact Improvisation. I use the Taoist alchemical meditations to help me heal from injuries, illnesses and to help me grow my virtues. And almost always, before bed, The Six Healing Sounds, which is my all time favorite mediation.
How does your Taijiquan and/or Qi Gong practice impact your everyday life?
Qigong has given me so many tools for being a better human being. Qigong has given me maturity, discipline, more compassion, courage, understanding and a deeper connection to nature and the flow of life. And more joy! The more Qigong I practice the more I laugh and smile from my belly and heart.
I totally agree. I am surely a more joyful person to be with on the days I practice!
The best way to learn is of course from a teacher in person. But which book taught you the most? Which would you recommend to a friend?
My all time favorite books on Qigong? I love Mantak Chia’s little book on Transforming Stress into Vitality*. The title says everything, there is a wealth of information in this book with two of my all time favorite exercises, The Secret of the Inner Smile and The Six Healing Sounds.
Thank you Saumya for answering my questions!