What is Qigong?
Qigong is a simple system composed of gentle movements, meditation and breathing techniques that cleanse and strengthen the immune system and Life Energy (Qi). It can be used as a daily routine to promote health and well-being, reduce stress and help cure or alleviate sickness. It is a powerful system of healing and one of the oldest methods of traditional healthcare in China.
Qigong is a combination of two words in the Chinese language. “Qi,” meaning “vital energy,” and “Gong” meaning “to achieve or cultivate.” So, therefore, Qigong essentially means “energy cultivation.”
THE FIVE MAJOR TRADITIONS OF QIGONG
Confucian Qigong: designed to attain higher moral character and intelligence.
Taoist Qigong: stresses the preservation of the physical body, and then higher level of virtue cultivation. (3600 schools in history) Many Taoist Qigong masters lived a very long life.
Buddhist Qigong: aimed at liberating the mind, emphasized the cultivation of virtue and enlightening wisdom, and it considers the human body just a shell holding the honorable spirit. (5800 schools in history, most popular).
Medical Qigong: emphasizes the free flow and balance of vital energy in the body, helps practitioner to take control of illnesses or pains, and also helps to prevent them. Medical Qigong also trained medical practitioners how to use the inner Qi in a dynamic way for diagnosis and healing.
Martial Arts Qigong: trains protection of the body from sword cuts, blunt trauma from other than edged weapons, and safety from attacks by fist or foot. Such methods included Iron shirt, golden bell type methods. It also trains the body to deliver fatal blows that were enhanced with Qi, such as those found in the Burning Palm, or Iron Palm methods. Unfortunately, many martial art Qigong practitioners have died prematurely due to over exerting their body limits.
We teach Medical Qigong. Although all forms of Qigong are reported to have health benefits, only Medical Qigong treats health and curing illness as the primary concern.
Health Benefits of Qigong
Experiences from Qigong practitioners have shown that Qigong healing positively affects a wide range of health problems from pains, ulcers, infections and allergies to cancer, diabetes and heart disease. These stunning healing results are dramatic, especially for people who were informed by their doctors that there is no hope of curing their health condition. Of course, serious healing takes serious effort. For general health purposes, a short daily practice of 15 minutes will help you feel good by bringing you relaxation, better energy, a calmer mind and a happier state of being. The greater the Qi blockage, however, the more time and dedicated effort are required for meaningful healing results.
Learning Qigong will lead you through a gradual cleaning process. If you walked into a house with three feet of dirt on the floor, you would not start sweeping it up into big piles. You could not breathe! You would need to begin cleaning the house in small steps. The same is true of the health benefits of Qigong: they come in small steps.
A vast amount of scientific research has been done to document Qigong’s healing effects. You can do a quick Google search, and find a lot of information about Qigong healing. Most of the studies were done in China and Japan. I have purchased the Qigong research database from the Beijing library, and plan to have it translated and made available to the public at a later time.
Qigong and Tai Chi are both similar and different. In general, Qigong is less physical than Tai Chi, and Qigong practitioners experience healing effects more easily. Below is a brief summary of the benefits of Qigong and Tai Chi practice.
Qigong teaches inner strength, increases flexibility, and boosts our immune system. Practicing Qigong reduces stress, stores up energy, increases body awareness, and improves balance and coordination.
Practitioners report less tension, depression, anger, fatigue, confusion and anxiety. They feel more vigorous, and generally, experience less mood disturbance.
A study conducted in China indicates that Qigong and Tai Chi may increase the number of T lymphocytes in the body. Also known as T-Cells, these lymphocytes help the immune system destroy bacteria and possibly even tumor cells.
BREATHING, ACHES & BLOODPRESSURE
In a study done in China, after practicing Qigong for 3 months, participants observed a “big increase in breathing capacity” and a disappearance of backaches and neck aches. Those with high blood pressure claimed a drop of 10 to 15 “points” on both upper and lower blood pressure readings. All participants claimed to have more energy in their daily work.
Qigong and Tai Chi are superior to more technological balance therapies. Practicing Tai Chi and Qigong reduces the risk of injury caused by falling. Complications from these injuries are the sixth leading cause of death in older Americans, and account for about $10 billion in losses per year to the US economy. The Institute of Chicago reports that people with moderate balance problems can be helped by practicing Qigong and Tai Chi. Participants of a two months course experienced about a 10 percent improvement in balance. An Emory University study also supports these findings.
MENTAL & PHYSICAL STRESS
Mind & body exercises, such as Qigong and Tai Chi, are increasingly replacing high-impact aerobics, long distance running and other body-punishing exercises made popular in the 1980’s. Mind-body workouts are kinder to the joints and muscles. They reduce tension which often contributes to the development of disease, making these gentler types of workouts especially appropriate for high powered, stressed out baby boomers. Unlike most conventional exercises, the mind-body forms are intended to stretch, tone, and relax the whole body, using a series of choreographed movements coordinated with deep breathing.
BEYOND TRADITIONAL CARE
Health practitioners who encounter clients facing problems which do not seem to respond to traditional health care may employ some of the health traditions of other cultures which view the body and mind as a balanced whole. Qigong and Tai Chi focus on the mind-body connection to help facilitate healing through relaxation, breathing, and movement
CURES & PREVENTIONS
Case studies show that Qigong can (1) dramatically help illnesses such as hypertension, asthma, and insomnia; (2) prevent arteriosclerosis and spinal deformity; and (3) shorten the recovery phase from long-term illness. Results from elderly Qigong and Tai Chi practitioners show strength and flexibility superior to non-practitioners.
Qigong and Tai Chi exercises appear to be safe for Rheumatiod Arthritis patients. Weight bearing exercises have the potential advantages of stimulating bone growth and strengthening connective tissue.
According to Qigong and Tai Chi enthusiasts, the discipline can prevent many ailments, including high blood pressure, tuberculosis, and diabetes. US scientists agree that Qigong and Tai Chi can offer some important fitness benefits, particularly for older adults.
CARDIO RESPERITORY EFFECTS
Practicing Qigong and Tai Chi regularly may delay the decline of cardio respiratory function in older individuals. In addition, Tai Chi and Qigong may be prescribed as a suitable aerobics exercise for older adults.