What Is Qi Gong?
You wake up, have a reasonable breakfast, go to work, and come back home. Maybe you even manage to hit the gym to lift some weights. Perhaps, you make convinces yourself to go for a jog before dinner and some TV.
You’re trying to carbohydrates and do everything else right. Yet something is missing. Something still feels off.
Convention western health practices often place too much focus on outer appearance and tangible, measurable parameters. Read ahead to learn how the practice of qi gong can help you grow mentally, spiritually, and physically.
Getting to Know Qi Gong
Is it a martial art or some type of yoga? Westerners often have a hard time trying to decipher exactly what is going on. At first glance, some forms of qi gong just look like a group of people moving very slowly.
The graceful, deliberate movements leave onlookers mystified. But exactly what is qi gong and what is its purpose?
Cultivating the Energy Within You
There are several ways English speakers could interpret the concepts of yin and yang. What remains constant is their dualistic nature. Yin always represents the opposite of yang but one can not exist without the other.
Yin represents the worldly energy of the earth and the moon. It is the shaded north side of the hill.
It said to have a ‘negative’ polarity akin to the ‘negative’ end of a battery.
On the other hand, yang has a positive polarity. It is the cosmic energy that originates from the sun and other stars.
Yang is the sunny south side of that same hill.
They are two counter-acting forces that need each other in order to manifest.
Qi Gong vs Tai Chi
Before we go any further, let’s address one of the questions many people ask.
“So, it’s basically Tai Chi, right?”. Well, no, but sort of.
Well, they are both ancient Chinese healing arts that promote the flow of qi throughout your body. Although they both employ mostly slow, flowy movements, there are several key differences in the techniques, postures, and other aspects.
The Three Schools of Qi Gong
There are three major disciplines of qi gong known as martial, medical, and spiritual schools.
Qi gong is a vital component of the major Chinese martial arts. Masters of this practice channel their qi to perform extraordinary acts of ability.
However, today we are going to focus on the physical and mental health aspects of qi gong.
A Force of Healing
Qi gong can be considered one of the most important healing practices of traditional Chinese Medicine. Along with acupuncture and herbology, qi gong is one of the most widely practiced forms of alternative medicine.
In traditional Chinese medicine, The meridian system refers to a pathway (or network) in your body through which the qi flows.
The movements of qi gong allow your life energy to better navigate this pathway and flow more freely and vigorously through you.
Studying the Cultivation of Energy
For many years, western scientists and health care experts weren’t sure what to think of qi gong and other related arts. They didn’t quite know how to prove or disprove its healing power using quantitative measures.
How are you supposed to measure if the balance of yin and yang within a person?
No, there is no one blood test or nerve conduction study to measure one’s internal energy flow. However, this hasn’t stopped scientists from trying.
The Health Benefits of Practicing Qi Gong
Qi gong has changed the lives of people around the world. Many practitioners may have been skeptical at first.
To some, it looks far too easy to actually qualify as being an efficient workout. We invite you to change the way you look at health.
Let’s look at some of the benefits of qi gong as demonstrated by modern science.
Low Impact Exercise
Qi gong looks relatively simple to the layperson. Certainly, the dazzling flips of Capoeira and spinning kicks of Taekwondo are more impressive to the eye. Surely, running a marathon requires peak physical condition.
We’re not saying these aren’t admirable endeavors. However, we find that the body is healthiest when it finds a sustainable balance. Running improves your improve your endurance short term but, over time, can lead to all types of bone and joint problems.
People of any physical ability can practice qi gong. The movements practiced are in harmony with the body’s natural flow, greatly reducing the impact on joints and the risk of injury.
Cardiovascular and Circulatory Health
Do qi gong exercises ‘count’ as cardio exercise? Is it really a replacement for doing laps in a pool or cycling?
Firstly, it is important to recognize that there are many types of qi gong, many have a quicker pace and require more physical prowess. However, it can be said the herein lies a philosophical difference between traditional Chinese medicine and conventional western fitness.
The ‘Problem’ With Jogging
It might come as a surprise that caring for your heart doesn’t always look like torturing yourself on a treadmill until you can’t breathe.
For many years, it what assumed that cardiovascular is simply good for your heart and that everyone should be doing as much as possible. However, studies have shown that that negative emotional states, such as stress and anxiety, have a stronger link to cardiovascular disease than your workouts.
In many cases, strenuous cardio exercise can even lead to a heart attack. That doesn’t sound very helpful.
Qi Gong and Heart Health
‘No pain, no gain’ is the slogan of all bodybuilders. However, intense physical workouts and minor injuries might not be as good for us many believe.
Once lost, qi is not easily restored. It is more beneficial to the heart and body to practice an exercise routine that aims to cultivate our life force.
Qi gong, meditation, and other forms of spiritual wellness can reduce anxiety and high blood pressure. This leads to a lower risk of cardiovascular events, such as heart attack and stroke.
Your immune system is vital to staying healthy. During these times of Covid-19, the strength of our immune systems is something we tend to worry about.
Now, more than ever, we must examine where we place our focus.
However, it is often the body’s response to the virus, in the form of inflammation, that leads to harm. This is also the case with autoimmune diseases. Not only is it good to have a robust immune system, its important to have a well-controlled immune system.
Like a river, your qi is strongest and healthiest when it can flow freely throughout your body.
Here, modern science correlates beautifully with ancient practices. The art of qi gong massage favors the circulation of lymph throughout the body.
Your lymphatic system plays a vital role in cleansing your body from toxins and developing your body’s immune response.
Your gut health is vital to maintain a good bill of health. It seems like year after year we continue to find links with autoimmune diseases and other conditions, such as anemia and depression.
The microbiota for your digestive tract (gut flora) influences your overall health, mood, and even your behavior. The more we learn about the world within us, the more we realize the importance of caring for it.
A sedentary lifestyle leads to reduced motility of the GI tract, leading to stagnancy and growth of unhealthy bacteria. Qi gong can be used to improve digestion, motility, and overall gut health. The benefits of this go well beyond the intestines.
Peace of Mind
Anxiety is the most common psychiatric issue in the US, affecting about 40 million adults. In 2015, an estimated 16 million adults suffered from major depression.
It affects people of all walks of life. Even rich, beloved, successful, and beautiful people have decided life wasn’t worth continuing. Depression is a real problem but perhaps we aren’t doing enough to prevent it and promote a wholly healthy lifestyle.
Any form of exercise can improve your mood. However, the practice of qi gong allows your body, mind, and spirit to flow in harmony. Research shows that qi gong can reduce anxiety and depression, even in individuals with chronic illness.
Studying and Practicing Qi Gong
You can think of a hundred reasons to attend qi gong classes. Maybe you want to improve your balance, calm your anxiety, or because your doctor told you to need to be ‘healthier’.
However, as you learn more about qi gong, you start to feel a fundamental change in the way you think and feel.
Paul L. Hannah M.D. draws from years of preparation under many renowned masters of qi gong. Visit this page to learn more about the benefits of his services.