Date: Nov 8 – Nov 19, 2016
Type: Qigong and Wilderness
The Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau is one of the most mysterious regions in China, with countless folk stories, regional legends and a colorful history against the backdrop of a dramatic terrain. The mountains are sheer and dense but the raging rivers have carved deep canyons and created magnificent landscapes. In times past, foot travel was extremely difficult in this breathtakingly scenic region. Before highways, railroads, and modern transportation, many diverse ethnic groups that live here seldom interacted with each other, despite their close proximity as the crow flies. As a result, while these groups have evolved parallel to each other, each is unique in culture, language, cuisine and legend.
As the name suggests, the Plateau consists of two provinces: Yunnan and Guizhou. Nowadays while Guizhou remains under-explored due to its unfriendly weather and rough travel, Yunnan is considered the most ideal place in China to live. The dramatic landscape prevents modern civilization from encroaching too far. There is still tourism, yet there are no big cities or pollution in this region of Western China that borders the Tibetan Plateau. The rhythm is slow and the natural landscape and wilderness here are pristine. The climate is generally mild and sunny, the air fresh, and the environment serene and versatile. It has won a nickname, the Lost Horizon, and many who have visited would volunteer to be lost here forever. Yunnan also hosts the most diverse culture in China – out of 56 named ethnic groups in China, more than 20 reside here. If you randomly choose a day to visit Yunnan, some group will likely be celebrating with traditional dance or a festival.
On this journey we will see and experience some of Yunnan’s most gorgeous wild lands – from looming spires to soft emerald meadows, from raging waters to serene lakes, and from sheer cliffs to quiet farm fields. We will exchange with local cultures, participate in their events, observe their daily routines, enjoy conversations and learn from their ways of life.
While we listen and respond to the natural world and people of Yunnan, we will learn, practice the delicious, nourishing and transformative practices of qigong, an ancient Chinese form of breath, meditation and movement that originates from Nature. We shall transcend ordinary awareness and linear time. We come to be opened and to honor, not to impose. Though we leave no physical trace, we will forever be connected on heart and spiritual levels to the lands and people of the Yunnan province.
A FEW WORDS ABOUT QIGONG:
Qigong practice is a powerful way to cultivate our own health and vitality, and develop our spirit and soul. It also offers tools to receive Qi – both energy and information – from our environment. China is home to many healing and mystical arts, such as Chinese Medicine, Qigong, Daoism, all of which have been born from its Lands and channeled through its people. Qigong offers a profound way to tap into these teachings from its very source.
In this Qigong & Wilderness trekking trip we cover a strong foundation of qigong, including the preliminary exercises for Zhong Yuan Qigong (ZYQ) Levels 1 and 2 and at least 2 of the main sitting and standing forms of ZY Qigong meditation. In addition, you will learn a comprehensive daily qigong “warm-up” and a wonderful set of exercises to cleanse the 12 meridians called the Eight Brocades. While all the exercises are simple, they are powerful, and are tools you can use for a lifetime. This foundation of qigong will enable you to more fully receive, experience and explore these ancient, yet ever-evolving magnificent terrains, its people and culture.
A Typical Day Looks Like the Following:
※Early Morning Practice (~ 45 mins, before breakfast)
- Opening the Gates (hands and feet)
- Review some good acupressure points for good health and for addressing/preventing certain ailments
- Practices include the 8 Brocades, the first 6 prep exercises of Zhong Yuan (ZY) Qigong, and/or the opening form for Hui Gong (a Wisdom qigong form)
※Daytime Practice (~1 hour) — 4 ~ 5 sessions between our various wilderness or cultural activities. Classroom location: in the mountains, trees, or right next to a local farm, stream, or an alpine lake.
- Cleansing and Gathering
- ZY Qigong prep exercises 1-6
- Qi Ball and Big Tree meditations
- Body breathing
- Tree breathing exercises
- Enchantment doorway instructions
- Mini quests
※Evening Practice (30 minutes) — 1~2 sessions
- Refining Qi
- Sleeping Qigong/body breathing
- Walking Qigong (optional)
DAY 1 Lijiang/Shuhe; Orientation
DAY 2 Travel to Lugu Lake (half day)
DAYS 3–5 Lugu Lake
DAY 6 Lugu Lake and travel back to Lijiang/Shuhe
DAY 7 Lijiang/Shuhe
DAY 8 Travel to Liming (half day)
DAY 9 & 10 Liming
DAY 11 Liming and travel back to Lijiang/Shuhe
DAY 12 Lijiang/Shuhe; Closing Circles
Note: Participants are encouraged to arrive in Lijiang at least a couple days early to relax, shake off jet lag, and get used to the altitude (Lijiang’s elevation is around 8000 feet). We will help arrange airport shuttle and accommodation.
Day 1 — Nov 8 — Lijiang/Shuhe Yunnan
Qigong warm-up, breakfast, orientation circle, and explore the surroundings of Lijiang/Shuhe area.
Participants will fly to Lijiang airport (easily accessed via major international airports in China such as Beijing, Kunming, etc). We will help arrange airport shuttle to transport people to the nearby Shuhe old town (6 kilometers from Lijiang city). We choose to stay in Shuhe because it is quiet and its layout and architecture remain authentic. As shown in [ITINERARY AT-A-GLANCE], we use Shuhe as our hub and will explore this lovely town and surrounding areas.
Introduction to Lijiang and Shuhe
Our journey begins and concludes in the picturesque region of Lijiang (lodging in nearby Shuhe village).
Lijiang was one of the trade centers along the ancient Tea-Horse trail and is now a popular point of embarkation to enjoy the diversity of the Northwestern Yunnan-Guizhou and Tibetan Plateaus. Here, our group will investigate ancient towns lined with cobblestone streets featuring the distinct architecture of the Naxi indigenous group. Adding to the uniqueness of this area are the systems of water canals and hundreds of bridges, some dating back to the Ming and Qing Dynasties, that were the lifeline of locals who relied on leather production for their living. The main water source for the town is Black Dragon Pool, whose many tributaries flow to the vicinity of every family.
The quiet and authentic Old Town of Shuhe where we will stay has a population of 3,000 people, with similar networks of waterways. Six km from Lijiang, Shuhe sits in the shadow of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, almost 20,000 feet high looming above what is the earliest home of the Naxi indigenous group. The snow-capped Jade Dragon is considered as the holy mountain of the Naxi.
Adding to the wonder and diversity of Lijiang and Shuhe, there is opportunity to hike, visit authentic markets for special purchases, be transported by horse and buggy, as well as visit the nearby village of Baisha (see below).
The Near-by Baisha Village
Just 8 kilometers from Lijiang Old Town is one of the oldest villages in Lijiang City, “Baisha” which means, “white sand.” Baisha acquired its name because of the pure white sand that is found in this area. The ancestral anchor for the Naxi indigenous group, Baisha boasts a unique layout of central market square surrounded by water canals, streams that flow outward from its central plaza.
Baisha’s famous fresco murals date back to the Ming Dynasty although further back, it is the cradle land of the Tusi Dynasty, which arose from the Mu Clan.
The aged Dr. Ho Shixiu, an herbal doctor known for his powerful cures, has brought contemporary interest to ancient and picturesque, Baisha.
Day 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 — Nov 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 — Lugu Lake
From Nov 9 to 13, we will explore Lugu Lake area. Here we will have our first half of the Qigong and Wilderness Classroom. We will interweave qigong learning and practice (including its origin, philosophy, movement etc) with wilderness and cultural activities.
Examples of daily activities include:
- Day hikes along the lake’s shore to view the diverse traditional-style homes of the many different ethnic groups that reside along the shore and to experience their daily rhythms;
- Boat rides in canoes to traverse and explore along the sparklingly clear and smooth lake and visit one or more of its five islands;
- Treks in the exquisite scenery of the hillsides and mountains.
Introduction to Lu Gu Lake
Lu Gu Lake is a 5-6 hour drive Northeast of Lijiang. Located at the mountainous region bordering Yunnan and Sichuan provinces, the lake is a dreamlike alpine body of water with an average depth of 45 meters. At an elevation of 8,809 feet, it is the highest lake of Yunnan province. The lake is surrounded by mountains and has a few small islands and peninsulas. Many ethnic groups reside along the shore, such as Norzu, Yi, Pumi, Tibetan tribes, and the largest population of the ancient matriarchal indigenous lineage, the Mosuo people, reside here. We will have opportunities to “float the lake,” take boating excursions in dugout canoes to traverse and explore along the sparklingly clear and smooth lake, visit one or more of its five islands.
According to local tales, the tears of a beautiful girl name Gemu caused the creation of Lu Gu Lake. Gemu cried and cried when she worried about whether her many secret love affairs would be discovered. Then, in running after a male spirit that was leaving her – Gemu dropped her earrings, which fell amidst the pool of her tears. The earrings became islands in the lake that formed from Gemu’s tears and several of her lovers became the towering mountains, which overlook the lake.
The scenery is breathtaking along these turquoise waters. It feels so separate from the outside world and opens an alternate dimension and expanded consciousness. Traditional timber houses dot its shores. The high backdrop of mountains and crystal-like lake are the perfect place to engage in qigong practices that are derived from nature, all bringing us into harmony with the land, spirits, waters and its people.
We experience the daily rhythms and ancient wisdom of many of Lu Gu’s ethnic groups including Tibetan tribes and monasteries and the Mosuo people, one the last matrilineal societies on Earth, a small tribe which is considered to be part of the larger clan of Naxi people. For the Mosuo, there is no marriage certificate – a “walking marriage” is the norm and women lead and support the families, hence the nickname for this region is “the Kingdom of Women.” The matriarchal society strives to keep a unique heritage that thrives along a lake area that remains largely undisturbed by the frenetic outside world.
Day 7 — Nov 14 — Shuhe
This day will be a rest day between the two Qigong and Wilderness Classroom sessions. We’ll also lead optional day excursions, such as visiting a near-by Tibetan monastery, the traditional market, or the tea horse trail museum.
Day 8, 9, 10, 11 — Nov 15, 16, 17, 18
From Nov 15 to 18, we will engage our second half of the Qigong and Wilderness Classroom amidst the stunning scenery of the red cliffs of Liming.
Immersing in the daily rhythms of the land and the people of this region, we will share with them in various ways such as: engaging local elementary students in English language conversation, joining local events, learning how to make baskets from hay straws, admiring the special musical instruments of its people and surveying the unique cultural ways of the Lisu, and perhaps even sipping homemade rice wine as we sit surrounded by the red cliffs of Liming with Lisu elders.
Introduction to Liming
A 3 hour drive to the Southwest of Lijiang is a small mountain village named Liming, nestled into an idyllic valley landscape surrounded by dusty fields and pristine pine forests and located at the base of Lao Jun Shan National Park.
There is one street in Liming (8,000+ feet) and it takes less than 10 minutes to walk from the start to the finish. However, the scenery of this short walk is awe-inspiring, with red cliffs rising up one after another on either side. You may look down for a moment’s break from the blazing red color of these magnificent cliffs, only to find there is no escape – the street is constructed of red sandstones and is called “Red Stone Street”. Red is the theme color of this place. When the sky is overcast, 30 minutes before it becomes completely dark, the red cliffs – towering sandstone walls bathed in sunlight – are otherworldly. The only thing comparable is the polar light. The towering sandstone spans over 25 square kilometers and tops at 150 meters high.
The local Lisu people are historically known to scale these high walls as they search for bird’s nests, collect lichen and track down beehives for honey. The Lisu appeared to have used sticks to chisel into the stone, inserting wooden ladder steps upon which to climb. The holes remain to this day.
The largest ethnic group of Liming, the Lisu, have invented many interesting musical instruments to accompany their traditional dances. The Lisu people, who historically lived in high mountain villages or among the mountain’s valleys, are believed to originate from eastern Tibet. A short walk beyond the main street brings you to the river, dotted by several Lisu farmhouses. Small Lisu villages in nearby valleys are spotted from a short hike up sandstone formations.
Liming is a hidden jewel, one of the most overlooked destinations in the vicinity of Lijiang. The town is quiet and the Lisu people welcome visitors but never alter their daily routines. If you are perceived as welcoming, an elder might show you his handmade coat, teach you how to play fulu jewlew (type of flute), weave a container with straws, handcraft a sheep/goat skin coat, or invite you for a folk dance and/or to sip the home-made rice wine of the Lisu people.
Day 12 — Nov 19 — Closing Circle
To conclude our epic journey, we will enjoy a restful morning, a final qigong session and review of what we’ve learned, and a closing circle to share and reflect on the beautiful adventure we have created together on this trip. We’ll conclude by 12 noon.
INCLUSIONS & EXCLUSIONS:
Price includes the following: meals, lodging (based on 2 people shared a hotel room), ground transportation, admission to parks, permits, and bilingual guides, qigong tuition. The price does not include airfare, checked baggage fees, airport shuttle between Lijiang airport and Shuhe, visa fee, travel insurance, personal gear, immunization, personal snacks, drinks, and gratuity.
The price is based on a minimum group size of 8 participants. A $500.00 deposit is required to reserve your spot. 50% of your payment is due on July 1st, 2016. Full payment is due August 8th, 2016.
*** We offer early sign-up discount and couple and group sign-up discount ***
You can pay the $500.00 deposit either via paypal or by writing us a check (please contact us for details) to secure your spot. We’ll follow up with you for the remaining payment.
If you must cancel a trip, we will refund your payments less the following fees:
- If you cancel 60 days or more in advance of your trip: $300;
- If you cancel 30-59 days in advance: 50% of trip tuition.
- If you cancel within 30 days or less: 100% of trip tuition.
There is no refund given if you cut your trip short for any reason.
3 thoughts on “2016 Discovering the Land of the Matriarch, Nov 8-19”
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A few questions about the Nov. 8 – 19/16 journey to China
*I have only taken a 2 day intro. workshop to qigong. Is this acceptable for
participating? a friend who also may be interested has not had any experience
with qigong. Would this prevent her participation?
*what level of hiking …. easy, moderate or strong?
*is the biking on level or mountaineous/hilly terrain? how much
biking will there be? If it is on mountaineous/hilly … is it optional? I could
do level but would be concerned about anything other.
I look forward to you reply. Thank you.
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