Patrick has become a better competition dancer with Qigong

Physical exercise is something we know is good for us, it makes us both healthier and happier. When I was younger I didn't like sports and wasn't keen on competing with others. One day I discovered dance. When I started taking lessons I felt happier and understood that this was good for me both physically and mentally. My body and mind changed to the better step by step. I have continued to dance since then and started competing a couple of years ago.

Some year before I started competing I heard about Qigong, but I didn't know what it was good for and I didn't think it would be of any use to me. My mother insisted on that I would take a two days course with her and I finally agreed. During the days my attitude changed drastically. I realized that this was something important and I decided directly that I wanted to continue.

Why I practise Qigong

Patrick has become a better competition dancer with Qigong I have now practised for several years. My original feeling didn't deceive me – a lot has happened since I started. It is said that Qigong helps improving concentration, strengthens the body and deepens relaxation. I will explain with a few examples how this has affected me, and I will summarize by giving three reasons to why I practise Qigong.

Better concentration

My friend and I started playing Frisbee golf during the spring before my first Qigong summer course. After returning home from the course I played my best round and improved my points considerably. The concentration and relaxation made me focused and it felt like everything for once went according to my wish. Because Qigong is unrelated to that sport I got the idea that the training can help me regardless of what I want to do in life.

Strong feeling of presence at competitions

After that I started competing in dance. One thing in common to all my best competitions is the feeling of presence. On one occasion this feeling was so strong that everything moved in slow-motion and every movement was just right. Focusing on the present, performance anxiety and nervousness gets no chance to disturb me. My goal right now is to be as concentrated as possible during the competitions to perform the best.

Easier to remember

A third example on how the concentration ability increased was on a dance camp after the summer course 2006. During three days I learned seven choreographies and remembered them all on the last day. Normally it is difficult for me to comprehend new movements and I have difficulty remembering them.

This ability to be focused I believe contributes to that life sometimes turns out the way we wish, and in the long run it is that which makes us happy. I want to develop this ability, and it is one reason to why I choose to practise Qigong.

Stronger body and better posture

Qigong also gives more energy, the body becomes lighter, stronger and more agile. All of that is needed when you dance. When I started competing my body was rather weak and some movements caused pain in my back. In the Qigong summer courses we learn good exercises which strengthen the back and after only a few weeks of intense training all the pain disappeared and the back became straighter and stronger. My posture, which was criticised before, has gradually improved.

Fast recovery and less injuries

Because Qigong is so gentle it is possible to practise as much as one wants without hurting oneself. Many dancers get hurt by their training, but Qigong can strengthen the body to prevent such damage and can also help restoring the body fast after earlier accidents. I have on occasions had pain in my back, knee, elbow, shoulder, neck and foot, but that has never caused much trouble because I practice Qigong. Nowadays I know my body so well I almost never hurt myself.

For me as a sportsman, the physical health is very important. The exercises in Qigong are a good base facilitating all other physical training, because they focus on the body being healthy, strong and agile. This is the second reason to why I choose to practise Qigong.

Relaxation provides energy and strength

The kind of dance I practise is very intense and physically demanding. Some people ask me how Qigong, having such calm movements, can help me with that. The answer is that I need to be relaxed to acquire that amount of energy. When the body is relaxed it also becomes softer and lighter, reducing the amount of energy needed to do movements. The energy does not meet any resistance in a relaxed body, so by relaxation I can increase my existing strength. When the energy flows freely through the body it feels like I could endure any challenge.

Quick recover

Relaxing is not as easy as one might think. Relaxation is something you need to practice and it is something that is fundamental in all Qigong exercises. Relaxing in Qigong is not about lying down and releasing your tension, it is something you always try to do, even (or rather particularly) when you stand up or move. Because of this training I can quickly recover and recharge my energy during the few minutes I have between competition rounds. When I return to the dance floor my energy is replenished.

Lithe and graceful

Relaxation does not only affect the energy level, but also the litheness and gracefulness. To be a better dancer I need to develop my relaxation and that is the third reason to why I choose to practise Qigong.

Patrick Hinnelund