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Qigong

Qigong is an ancient Chinese exercise and healing technique that involves meditation, controlled breathing and movement exercises

 

An Introduction to Qigong

Qigong is an ancient Chinese exercise and healing technique that involves meditation, controlled breathing and movement exercises.

 

Concept of Qigong

The concept of Qi is the foundation of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Qi is an energy, a force that is dynamic and constantly changing from one aspect into another.

Traditional Chinese philosophy uses the terms yin and yang to explain two opposing but complementary forces that are a manifestation of Qi – when these forces are balanced the result is wellbeing and contentment. Imbalance in Qi translates (causes) to pain, illnesses, and suffering.

Gong is the term meaning work or gather. Qigong together means a form of movement and mind using intention and mindfulness to guide qi to make qi work.

How can Qigong benefit you?

How can Qigong benefit you?

Qigong uses combinations of sitting and moving meditation practices in an effort to promote health and wellbeing.

“Qigong is the most profound health practice ever invented by mankind for the prevention of illness, reducing stress, managing chronic conditions, increasing longevity and resilience, and promoting healthy, active ageing.” Tom Rogers, President, Qigong Institute

Qigong is yet to be widely studied for its health benefits, however, people who practice have reported experiencing the following benefits:

  • Improved muscle strength and tone
  • Improved flexibility, posture and mobility
  • Improves stability and balance
  • Increased physical energy and stamina
  • Improved mood and mental wellbeing
  • Improved ability to cope with stress
  • Feeling more relaxed and well-rested
  • Greater awareness, clarity and focus
  • Feeling more balanced and harmonious
  • Increased happiness and vitality

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Further Reading / Studies

While further studies and clinical trials are required to validate the efficacy of Qigong, preliminary studies indicate that Qigong may help with the following, in addition to standard medical treatments.

A comprehensive review of the health benefits of Qigong (and Tai Chi) covering 77 studies concluded there is a compelling body of research evidence that suggests there is a wide range of health benefits in response to these meditative movement forms. This includes:

  • A favourable effect on bone health
  • Favourable cardiovascular and pulmonary outcomes
  • The effect on balance to be similar to conventional exercise or physical therapy control interventions
  • Improvements in psychological factors such as anxiety, depression, stress, mood, fear of falling, and self-esteem
  • Improvements in the number of immune-related blood markers

 

Bone density

A 12-week study of the Baduanjin Qigong training program for middle-aged women demonstrated promising efficacy in preventing bone loss and considered Qigong as valuable for promoting and maintaining the health status of middle-aged women.

 

Immunity

In an assessment of immunological parameters following a Qigong training program, consisting of 30 mins a day for 1 month, the findings demonstrated that those practising Qigong had significant improvements in immunological changes compared with the control group.

 

Sleep

One study found that compared with the control group, the group who practised Qigong reported significantly better sleep quality throughout the 12-week period.

Another study suggests that Tai Chi and Qigong training may reduce daytime sleepiness while improving subjective sleep quality.

 

Muscle pain 

Results of a systematic review indicated that Qigong might have a beneficial effect on some individuals with neck pain.

A systematic review of 9 studies into the efficacy and safety of Baduanjin Qigong exercise for patients with lower back pain indicated that those who practice Qigong showed improvement in pain relief.

 

Headaches and migraines

In one study on the Japanese practice, called Kiko, All the individuals who completed the study had a measurable improvement in their migraines.

Another study concluded that Qigong for patients with chronic headaches showed effects of relieving pain, improving general activities and mood.

Practicing Qigong

Practising Qigong

There are two types of Qigong practice:

  • Wai Dan (External Elixir) involves physical movement and concentration
  • Nei Dan (Internal Elixir) involves sitting meditation and guided imagery or visualization

According to the traditional teachings of Qigong, beginners first learn physical movements coordinated with breathing techniques. They practice sets of exercises (similar to Tai Chi) until each movement or posture is perfected.

Once they learn the form, the next step is to find the subtle flow or fluctuation of energy within the postures, movements, breathing patterns, and transitions. This is called moving meditation.

 

Moving meditation

Among the exercises, there are many postures that are held for long periods of time. These postures are somewhat similar to those of yoga. They are practised to strengthen the limbs and increase energetic flow. These postures fall into the category of still meditation.

Sitting meditation

Focuses on becoming more acquainted with the breath, body, and mind.

 

Moving, still, and sitting meditations can all be practised with or without visualization. Visualization enhances the scope of practice by allowing the practitioner to guide the energy in accordance with the visualization.

 

What are the types of Qigong?

There are many forms and styles, but they all fit into one of three main categories:

  • Medical Qigong to heal self and others
  • Martial Qigong for physical prowess
  • Spiritual Qigong for enlightenment

Generally, all practitioners incorporate exercises and techniques from all three categories, the only difference is their focus.

 

Medical Qigong

This is the most popular of the three categories. It is the oldest of the four branches of Traditional Chinese Medicine and the energetic foundation from which acupuncture, herbal medicine, and Chinese massage (tui na) originated. Thus it shares the foundational theories of Traditional Chinese Medicine and uses similar diagnostic and treatment methods.

Medical Qigong includes:

  • Self-Healing Qigong – where individuals practice Qigong exercises to enhance their health, prevent disease, and address illness.
  • External Qigong or Qi Emission – where practitioners emit Qi with the intention to heal others.  A good Qigong practitioner usually prescribes specific exercises designed to help regulate Qi. The patients incorporate these Qigong exercises into their daily practice as well as receive occasional sessions from the Qigong practitioner.

 

Martial Qigong

This type focuses on physical prowess. Martial Qigong practitioners can break bricks, bend steel wires, place sharp objects in vulnerable parts of the body without damaging the skin, or sustain a physical impact from baseball bats. Martial Qigong practitioners can demonstrate physical feats considered impossible by modern science.

 

Spiritual Qigong

This type uses mantras, mudras (hand positions), sitting meditations, and prayers to pursue enlightenment. These techniques are heavily influenced by Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism.

Spiritual Qigong teaches discipline and leads to self-awareness, tranquillity, and harmony with nature and self. Spiritual practitioners train their Qi to a much deeper level, working with many internal functions of the body.

Is Qigong right for you?

What is the difference between Tai Chi and Qigong?

Tai Chi classes always include the concepts and theories, and usually movements of Qigong, but a Qigong practice won’t necessarily include concepts from Tai Chi. While the movements may be different from those of Tai Chi in some cases, both practices incorporate strength and flexibility with breathing exercises, focused attention and imagery.

While they share many characteristics, most people consider Qigong and Tai Chi to be two distinct practices. Qigong can be thought of as a movement you do for a certain situation, as opposed to Tai Chi, which is a series of movements that work on the entire body in a flowing sequence.

 

Is it right for you?

Qigong is adaptable for nearly all fitness levels,  does not require any equipment and can be performed anywhere you feel comfortable moving. You can practice at almost any level of movement ability, whether it’s from the bed, chair, standing with support or standing freely. The goal of these practices is to provide that strength, flexibility and balance.

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Medical concerns

Holistic disciplines can assist you in your wellbeing, though they are not a substitute for medical care. This information should be used as a guide only to help you explore which holistic disciplines may assist you. We recommend researching the discipline and speaking with a practitioner before choosing to book any service.

This information is not, nor is it intended to be used as a medical diagnosis. Any information provided must be considered as guidance only, and not a substitute for obtaining a diagnosis from a medical professional. Please see the full terms and conditions of use. Always consult your doctor for any medical concerns.

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