The old adage, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” should be the mantra you associate with the energy medicine powers of QiGong. This ancient Chinese health practice has roots that come from Chinese martial arts, philosophy, and medicine.
It is a series of movements designed to keep your body in harmony and rhythm, not only your life force energy, but the Universal life force energy as well. When practiced routinely, QiGong exercises assist in keeping your body in great condition, with flexible joints and strong muscles and connective tissues.
Thousands of years ago, QiGong was a secret practice known only to the wealthy of the elite Chinese social class and those that studied the martial arts. Historically, leaders did not want common folk to attain greatness through such practices; therefore they kept it secret as a means to retain power and status.
Today, QiGong is practiced by millions of people the world over, by the commoner as well as by the elite. QiGong does not care if the your are dirt poor or a gazillionaire, all that matters is that you are gaining strength in your mind, body and spirit.
QiGong involves easy, fluid, standing movements done at a slow pace that requires concentration and discipline. When practicing QiGong exercises, it is best to wear comfortable, loose fitting clothing to allow for the gentle movement of the body. With influences like yoga and some martial arts, it is, on its own, a complete system of well being.
What is QiGong
QiGong is a series of movements that stimulate any of the 12 meridians of your body. There are many different movements that make up QiGong, but not all of the movements are done in a single session. Typically a small selection of different movements are grouped together to make up a QiGong session. The grouping will have a specific purpose, such as to increase energy in the morning or to relieve stress in the evening.
Here are a couple great videos that demonstrate two different QiGong sessions with distinctly different purposes. The first video demonstrates a morning routine that is meant to increase your energy and help you get through your busy day.
This second video demonstrates an evening QiGong session where the purpose is to relieve the stress from the day and get you ready for a relaxing evening.
You might notice that the movements of QiGong are creatively named. Movements with names like Knocking on the Door of Life, The Tiger, and Spinal Cord Breathing are demonstrated in the above videos. Such naming allows for you to visualize the movements and better understand them. Other QiGong techniques include such names as Ride the Horse and Draw the Bow, Immortal Looks to the Heavens, and Shaking Immortal.
You might have also noticed that QiGong movements fall under three general categories that also have specific purposes. The first are rolling movements of the the different body parts:
The purpose of these movements is to help loosen up tight muscles and joints. Stiff and tight muscles and joints do no allow for free flowing Qi and can lead to blockages and disorders.
The second category of movements are Qi stimulating movements. These movement are designed to stimulate Qi as is moves through the meridians. These movements involve:
- Bouncing, shaking, swaying, and tapping
- Slow, static movements
The final category is for mind relaxation. This is where the discipline aspect of QiGong comes into play. The purpose of these movements is to calm the mind and focus it on the present, not allowing it to wander to other thoughts and situations, either in the past or future. This is similar to meditation, but is done while performing the movements of QiGong.
- Slow, easy breathing
All three categories combine together to form a holistic session of movements with a specific purpose. No one category is effective on its own. It is when they are combined that they are a powerful force in which you can harmonize your personal Qi with the Qi of the natural world and the Universe.
The theories of QiGong as a beneficial, holistic healing technique are, in essence, a means of connecting with the universe and its life force energy. The concept that man and nature combine to form an organic whole is at the center of QiGong practice.
The eastern theory of the opposing forces of Yin and Yang is a cornerstone for traditional Chinese medicine and the ancient ways of preserving health. QiGong aids in the balancing of Yin and Yang.
For example, your body is filled with the forces of Yin and Yang. Yin is located in your core as well as your back and limbs. Yang is mostly in the lower part of your body as well as your abdomen and internal organs. Warmth in your body is Yang, while cold is Yin.
Routine QiGong practice helps to keep the Yin and Yang in harmony. An imbalance in your body’s Yin and Yang results in illness and disease. One of the primary purposes of QiGong exercises is to achieve and maintain the balance of Yin and Yang, not only within your body, but also between your body, the earth and the entire Universe.
This complete form of healing creates a peaceful mind, a healthy body, and a calm spirit that allows you, a practitioner of QiGong on a regular basis, to become capable of preventing disease. By building muscles, a strong heart, and a healthy mind QiGong is a self healing tool using a moving meditation format.
QiGong benefits that come from its slow, static movements include strengthening the body and boosting the immune system. QiGongs’ meditative properties help you better understand yourself and the universe as it connects your Qi with that of the universe.
A peaceful mind is the optimum place for a stress free life, which lowers blood pressure and, in turn, takes strain off the heart and other vital organs.
The air we breathe and the food we eat are all sources of Qi. Deep, QiGong breathing gently exercises the vital organs, muscles and bones, and balances the Yin and Yang properties within the body.
While it is not necessary to keep the breathing in rhythm with the QiGong movements, you will find that, with time, the breath and the movements begin to flow together in a deep, rhythmic way. This phenomenon is part of the meditative value of the practice.
For those who have difficulty with sitting, non-movement meditation, QiGong is a great alternative as it leads to meditation with the movements. The exercises are so simple that when combined with concentration on the breath and movement the mind slows and a peaceful state results.
QiGong Financial Benefits
In the United States, healthcare costs have skyrocketed. Taking control of our own healthcare through prevention, rather than reacting to illness and disease, is an alternative many individuals feel put their healthcare back within their own control.
Once learned and mastered, QiGong exercises costs nothing but time. The initial cost of education and practice is an investment in your health that becomes priceless when compared to the costs associated with fixing something that is broken.
This “no cost” healthcare strategy, when followed routinely becomes the preventative health care outlet people have been searching for – and it was right in front of us all along. QiGong meditation helps to put healthcare back into the hands of the individual. And, isn’t that what you really want? QiGong is a way to control your own destiny, and remain a healthy vitality and youthfulness.