The interview with Faye Yip was led by Nils Klug in the context of a Workshop on Ba duan jin given by Faye in the Tai Chi Studio, Hannover, in Summer 2016.
“Fang song” and “relaxation” in Tai Chi and Qigong
The next question will be about relaxation because usually – that is my experience – for a lot of people energy and relaxation is what they are looking for: “I want to relax.” Well, we both know that before you can relax you need at least a little structure you can relax into and also you need to do quite some work and also homework to lay the foundations. So what do you tell people who come to you and want to learn how to relax?
I think that relaxation is a classic association with Tai Chi that has been translated as relaxation.
Do you talk about “song”?
Song – yes. It does not translate the meaning accurately. Relaxation, in English, basically means “doing nothing” – (collapses back into her seat and laughs) – just collapse and do nothing. So to relax is to literary do “nothing”, to lie down onto the couch and have a nice cup of tea and to have no control and – as you say – “structure”. When we talk about relaxation it Tai Chi or Qigong, it is a totally different concept. It is not doing nothing. It is about doing a lot of internal work to allow the body to let go of the tension to become soft or – using a traditional word – to become “bendy”. And “bendy” is allowing that to happen rather than making that happen, forcing it to happen or fighting against it. So in the whole thing, in the whole concept the changing of the mindset is the key. It is when we are truly allowing the tensions to go and flow away and follow the movements as I always do. And the process needs to be slowly to ease off and feel each muscle and this close change of the muscle groups to allow it to work in the deep layers to let the stiffness and tension go. This is the process of “letting go”. We call letting go “fang song”. “Fang” is “to release” – “song” is loose: “to let loose happen”. The tenseness and stiffness are tight and the only way of letting that go is by opening, expanding and sort of softly work with the bodies. This is a totally different concept to just a simple relaxation. Relaxation is a broader name and quite often misleading, oversimplified in terms of Tai Chi and Qigong. The real healing, the bodies inbuilt repairing, healing power cannot be released until your body is loose, until the body is free from stress and tensions.
(happy) That is a good answer! Well done…
Images: Taiji Forum
The interview with Faye Yip part 12 – Research alliances and the vision to build a bridge
The interview with Faye Yip part 7 – Voluntary work and rich life
The interview with Faye Yip part 2 – competition landscape in Tai Chi