When I was a student in massage therapy school, I can remember the instructor that taught Tai Chi and Qigong. She was an energetic, limber, little spark plug of a woman. She was old enough to be my grandmother and she could seamlessly go from standing to splits in the blink of an eye.
At the time, I admittedly felt a little awkward going through the moves of the practice. Of course, I was 19 at the time and had absolutely none of the aches and pains that come with aging, childbirth, physical work, etc. So what did I know?!
11 years and tons of yoga and breathing exercises later, and I am a sincere advocate of ancient practices such as Qigong. (No wonder my Qigong instructor was so gung-ho for life, in general haha.) So, what is Qigong, and how can it benefit you?
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An Interesting Concept
I am utterly fascinated with Chinese medicine. I find it incredible that natural remedies, meditations, breathing exercises, and herbal recipes and diets can prevent, as well as heal certain ailments.
There are a number of things that practicers of Eastern medicine swear by, and Qigong is one of them.
To break it down, “qi” basically means life force or vitality, and “gong” is a skill or practice. So, Qigong is essentially a skill acquired and practiced over a period that is meant to restore and increase vitality.
It is a Chinese system of physical and mental exercise, and breathing techniques that work together to restore balance and harmony in the body, and bring a certain peaceful state of mind. In Qigong, the fluid body movements, along with the steady, mindful breathing basically draw in the “qi” in the world around us for us to absorb to restore vitality.
Qi is a vital part of Chinese medicine. It is thought, generally, to be the unseeable energy that is flowing through us and in the outside world at all times.
Much like in yoga and Tai Chi, the mind is of equal importance in the practice of Qigong to the body. Meditating is of the utmost importance because it is the mind that has to direct and regulate the energy flow.
When mind and body are working in harmony, the whole being benefits dramatically.
A History of Qigong
So, as with other things that began and developed over the course of time, the beginning of Qigong is debatable. It appears as though different aspects of Chinese medicine have several points of thought-to-be origin, but I am of the belief that Qigong could have originated as many as 10,000 years ago.
There have been records (well, more like primitive paintings 🙂 ), discovered in caves in the Yellow River region of China, suggesting that the practice could very well be that old.
Being that the practice was kind of kept under wraps until the 1970s when it became mainstream, there are notably more questions than answers about the origin. We do know, however, that it was passed down from generation to generation as the Western world equivalent to the family jewels…and it only became a common practice when, in the late 21st century, some men in China who were well versed in the practice decided that the world needed to experience the benefits of Qigong.
Wide Ranging Benefits
What is truly one of the most interesting and compelling facts about Chinese medicine, is that one herb, one practice, individual treatments of acupuncture…can affect SO MANY regions of the body- both mentally and physically.
Western medicine does have its many perks…but it certainly can’t compete in this. And because the practices are so old, it seems that everyone in the field of treatment and instruction using Chinese medicine is so thoroughly well schooled on it that they are often pretty accurate in addressing the ailment after an assessment.
A few of the many benefits of Qigong include:
- An improvement in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, increasing mental functioning and reducing fatigue. One study showed that, in a select group of people diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, when practicing Qigong consistently each week the group was nearly 3x as likely to experience a positive health transition over the duration of a year.
- Better Bone Density. Osteoporosis is a real and scary prospect for many, and implementing something such as Qigong into your lifestyle could reduce chances of developing the condition.
- Menopause. Women experiencing menopausal symptoms report a noticeable improvement in being able to go to sleep and stay asleep for the entire night.
- Decreased Inflammation. Qigong implements body movements that can, quite often, improve overall posture. You are also much more aware of body positioning and where you are carrying your weight, which can result in a decrease of joint inflammation and general pain.
- Reduced Falling and Imbalance. Like mentioned, you are ultimately much more aware of your body’s positioning- a full body awareness…resulting in an improvement in balance.
- Reduced Psychological Symptoms. Frequent Qigong practicers reported an improvement in psychological symptoms, especially with such disorders as anxiety and depression.
While Qigong is a safe and natural practice for most, there are certain individuals who will need to temporarily (or in some cases permanently) refrain from engaging in the practice.
- Recent Surgery. With the amount of movement that is typical, surgical wounds could be opened or exposed.
- Pregnancy. It is thought that an increase in blood and qi circulation could cause miscarriage, and whether that is accurate or not, you certainly don’t want to take any chances.
- Those that are bed ridden or extremely ill.
- Practicing Incorrectly. This could lead to injury, or negatively affect mental and emotional symptoms.
Road To Natural Healing
In conclusion, the practice of Qigong has proven to be advantageous to those with physical and mental ailments, and hey…its been around for thousands of years so SOMETHING’S gotta give! There definitely have to be some great benefits.
The general consensus is that, the more frequent that you practice the much better chance you have at achieving relief. Of course, and at all is great, but don’t expect to be a complete new person if you don’t put in the time (like pretty much every other good thing in the world – shocker, haha).
Overall, Qigong is going to hold some benefit for many, and I will personally take natural healing over anything else any day!
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Have a blessed and beautiful day!