Vicente Morin Aguado
HAVANA TIMES — It was one of those agreeable moments that reveal the power of communication without distances or borders. Our friend Isidro, a regular Havana Times commentator and collaborator, had just flown 13 thousand kilometers to reunite with Cuba once again, accompanied by his wife and an exceptional friend.
The traditional courtesy meal and drinks had a long preface this time: professor Yan Tingba, relying on a Chinese journalist who served as an interpreter, introduced those present to the techniques of China’s new medicinal Qigong. Those in attendance, in fact, became the first Cubans to be exposed to these ancient practices.
The visiting expert is one of the close disciples of the master Yang Feng, whose biography I have reproduced below:
Born in Fuyang, Anhui province in 1953, he graduated from Anhui’s Traditional Chinese Medicine Institute.
His contributions to the medical field, including the treatment of kidney afflictions, have earned him five State patents, and he is currently a world-renowned Chinese medical expert, an International Qigong teacher and an expert in medicinal Qigong, among other specializations.
His six published books include New Medicinal Qigong, Prevention and Treatment of Common Childhood Conditions, Methods to Quickly Recall Medicines and their Ingredients and Secrets for the Preservation of Feminine Beauty.
The introductory text in the materials for the first class – a privilege I shared with other Havana Times collaborators – including the following information:
“In 2006, professor Yang Feng began to actively practice traditional medicine, using therapies for different conditions, on the basis of a millennia-old tradition sustained by the concept of Qi, a respiratory fluid that is the source of human energy. Yan Tingba is a close disciple of the eminent Yang Feng.”
Below are a number of questions I put to our visitors. Translator and China Today journalist Guo Lingxia also practices Qigong on a daily basis and knows Feng personally.
Is this mysticism or science?
“It has a scientific foundation, through traditional culture associates to Buddhism and Tao, and to the search for immortality especially.”
“It has to do with life,” the professor adds, “with prolonging life, something that is entirely possible and proven through the consistent application of our method. A turtle breathes two times a minute, humans 22 times. There lies the secret to this animal’s long life.”
One of the other workshop participants asks: by how much can our respiratory rate be reduced?
“Through daily and conscious practice, we can bring it down to 15 breaths per minute, a very good number. It’s a question of combining moving exercises, like the ones you tried, with non-moving exercises.”
Is there a recipe book for concrete conditions?
“Yes, the texts published by Yang Feng offer detailed therapies aimed at doctors and designed to cure or alleviate a great many pathologies that have been identified by medicine.”
Some explanations became somewhat confusing, given the language barrier. Knowledgeable on the subject, Guo and her husband added a number of basic points:
“The essence lies in regulating one’s abdominal, not thoracic, breathing. We draw in more air (Qi), which means more energy is coming into our bodies. The next step is to let as little of this energy out. The human body has many “holes” where this energy can escape. If a favorable combination is achieved, we can live many, healthy years.”
After doing the first series of exercises, feeling more relaxed, we are met with a proposal from professor Yang Tingba:
“To found a school on this island is one of our ardent wishes. If I come back to Cuba, I will begin offering classes free of charge, something not just for the high class, something for all Cubans.”
Do you have anything special in mind for our country?
“Cuba is a tropical country. It’s very hot and people here use up a lot of Qi, they need to learn to absorb Qi and use less of it. People’s quality of life is better in areas of the planet with moderate climates. As an island, it is a very privileged place: the sea, nature, ever-green and blossoming, can help people energize properly.”
The translator hands out a note with details about Master Yan.
“Born in 1978 in Qufu, in the eastern end of China’s province of Shandong, birthplace of philosopher Confucius, Yan Tingba holds a PhD from the Software Institute of the Pekin Aeronautics and Aerospace University.
“He has been learning medicinal Qigong and traditional Chinese medicine under Yang Feng, founder of the first of these disciplines, since 2006. Currently, Yan Tingba is a teacher of new Qigong methods in the Chinese capital.”
The aspirations of our friends from Beijing seem plausible, considering the popularity that other traditional Chinese practices, such as Wushu and Tai Chi, have had in Cuba. There’s always the concern that red tape will get in the way, but Chinese cultural associations and Cubans who descend from Chinese immigrants could help in this project.
Before saying goodbye, our visitors left us these messages:
“The new Qigong is the magic key to self-knowledge and a means of deciphering codes that are vital to humanity.” – Yang Feng
“Learning and practicing the new Qigong conscientiously is a step forward towards the elimination of the concept of incurable diseases.” – Yan Tingba
“I have the determination to introduce and promote the New Qigong in Cuba, so that its people may benefit from this treasure of Chinese tradition.” – Guo Lingxia
Vicente Morín Aguado. [email protected]