Qigong is a set of ancient exercises practiced to support the welfare of the physical body in order to promote healthful longevity. Often referred to as “Chinese Yoga” or “Feng Shui forthe body”, as little as twenty minutes of Qigong practice on a regular basis has been shown to produce profound health benefits.
Qigong is suitable for people of all ages and abilities and can be performed standing, sitting or lying down. A typical Qigong workout includes stretching and strengthening exercises, breath-work, creative visualization, self-massage, vocalization of sounds and meditation through movement and stillness. Its slow, gentle, rhythmical, meditative movements prod the entire body to relax as it opens, strengthens and restores the proper flow of Qi, vital energy.
The Chinese medicine system of healing is built on the belief that Qi flows throughout every living thing. Quality of health depends on how and where Qi flows, as it motivates all vital functions and transformations - thus sustains life. Ultimately, everything in Chinese medicine is based on the concept of Qi.
Throughout life, Qi is derived from food, water and herbs we ingest and the air we breathe. It is essential to eat right to have strong Qi, combined with living in a well-ventilated environment and breathe plenty of fresh air. Qigong helps to enhance life through breathing exercises and flowing movements designed to maintain Qi health. In fact, this ancient art of exercise is literally translated as “Qi cultivation.”
The free flow of Qi manifested through these movements removes Qi blockages within the energetic pathways (meridians) of the body and promotes blood flow that transports nourishment to vital organs, glands, and tissue. The resulting free flow of Qi and blood from this ancient art of self-healing and fitness manifests youthful skin, bright eyes, shining hair, enhanced sexual vitality, fortified bones, strong muscles, balanced hormones, healthier vital organ function, and plentiful energy. It is a powerful self-healing tool that has been likened to “giving oneself acupuncture”
Through Qi cultivation, the body is detoxified and Qi is refined and stored – providing powerful reserves for healing. A strong Qi picture of health surfaces one that increases ability to self- heal and produces greater effectiveness for a multitude of other healing techniques.
Qigong also tones the mind and spirit as it promotes mental clarity and a peaceful, nourished Shen (spirit). This is extremely helpful for stress reduction which translates into benefits for prevention of disease throughout life. It also helps to prevent or allay symptoms associated with the Shen such as insomnia or anxiety.
Qigong is also effective through balancing of the yin and yang energies of the body. This is quite important for vibrant health as an imbalance of yin and yang can lead to illness in the body. Levels of health can be assessed according to the predominance of either too much, or too little, yin or yang in the body. This is based on the Yin Yang Theory which teaches that good health occurs when balance is maintained between these two opposing, intimately related and attracting energies.
Each person is made up of a predominance of either yin or yang energy. Women tend to be more yin, whereas men tend to be more yang. This is because women tend to exhibit yin qualities such as more cold, soft, deep, wet, internal and contracting. Whereas, men tend to be more hot, hard, superficial, dry, external and expanding which are yang qualities.
During a healing process, the goal is to move more toward the center of the Yin Yang continuum, so that a preponderance of Yin or Yang is no longer creating imbalance within the system. This can be accomplished through Qigong practice as well as choosing foods that are closer to the center of this continuum.
The relative balance between these energies “waxes and wanes” depending on various factors such as the energetic of foods eaten, environmental conditions, emotional state, hereditary factors, and exercise habits. For example, ingesting cold, wet food or living in a cold, damp environment creates a predominance of yin, whereas hot, dry foods or living in a hot climate creates more yang energy.
Practical application of this information leads one to lifestyle choices that tend to bring a person more to the center of the yin and yang continuum. Qigong, as a form of exercise, naturally promotes balance between the yin and yang energies of the body - thereby improving overall health.
The following Qigong exercise “Fluffing White Clouds” synchronizes movements with a slow, rhythmic, and deep breathing technique. This is done to increase lung capacity, cultivate and balance Qi, calm the emotions and nourish Shen, strengthen Jing which is vital essence, and balance yin and yang energies.
Stand with your feet parallel, shoulder-width apart with your knees slightly bent. Your hands are resting open at your sides with your pinky fingers next to your thighs and fingertips facing the earth.
As you inhale, straighten your knees and lift your hands to shoulder height in front of you with palms facing upward and elbows slightly bent.
As you exhale, turn your palms downward and bring your arms down, drawing your wrists back in toward your body and bending your knees again. The heel of your hand leads and fingertips follow.
End with elbows slightly bent, palms face downward, your hands by your sides stretched out flat as if gently patting white clouds.
Turn your palms upward and continue from the beginning. Coordinate the movement of your hands with the bending and straightening of your legs.
The experience and sensation of Qi flow during this exercise may seem extraordinary, because it is. As hands move upward, it may feel as if there is a heavy weight in the palms. By contrast, when both palms turn downward and float slowly back to sides of the body, it may feel as if there is a light, fluffy pillow beneath them. These sensations normally increase with each repetition and with each exercise session. Don’t be concerned in the slightest if these feelings aren’t experienced – Qi is still cultivating.
Qigong is a life-enhancing exercise that naturally improves health and well-being – simply by doing. One becomes infused with inner peace, self-knowledge through intuition is enhanced, balance becomes nearly permanent, stress melts away, mental clarity and focus abounds, and vibrant energy becomes the norm. The more practice, the more life flows – as Qigong provides a new zest for life and a time-proven way toward a healthful, long life.