Qigong, What’s All the Rave About?

Bored with your usual yoga, jogging, or gym routine? Why not turn to more traditional forms of exercise that has been gaining a lot of attention among millennials? If that sounds appealing to you, try turning to something called Qigong.

Presuming that you’ve never considered traditional methods of self-medication, keep reading to see why this method would be ideal.

 

What is Qigong?

Qigong is an ancient Chinese healing practice that is actually a favourite exercise of Oprah Winfrey! The etymology behind the word is actually a combination of two words; “qi” which means “subtle breath” or “vital energy,” and “gong,” which translates to “skill cultivated through steady practice.” Qigong has three areas of focus: body focus (posture and movement), breath (respiratory) focus, and mind (meditative) focus. – according to Singapore’s Health Hub.

Are you wondering if Qigong and Tai Chi are the same? The movements are a lot alike, right? However, the latter is actually a practice derivative of Qigong. Tai chi originated as a martial art, but modern forms tend to focus more on health and rehabilitation.

To start, let’s understand the forms of Qigong. It includes slow, long and deep breaths, while breathing patterns may switch from abdominal breathing, to breathing combined with speech sounds. The movements in Qigong are typically gentle and smooth as it targets relaxation. Finally, the mental state is regulated towards focusing attention and visualisation. Most forms of qigong originated from Daoist practices focused on cultivating and maintaining personal health.

Qigong is an ancient Chinese healing practice that combines controlled breathing, gentle movement, and meditation to promote good mental, physical, and spiritual health.

 

Why Practise Qigong?

 

 

Qigong involves exercises to optimise energy within the body, mind, and spirit, with the goal of improving and maintaining health and well-being. It has both psychological and physical components and involves the regulation of the mind, breath, and body’s movement and posture.

It can contribute to your whole holistic wellness and you’d definitely benefit more than just physically from the practice.

Health benefits

Qigong includes exercises made up of postures, breathwork and intention setting. The exercises initially mimicked the movements of animals and then evolved as people gained a deeper understanding of human anatomy and physiology.

Qigong follows traditional Chinese medicine principles, which claim that qi flows through our bodies. According to TCM, people tend to feel their best when their qi travels freely, but health problems can crop up if the energy becomes stagnant or blocked in a certain area of the body. Through simple poses and patterned breathwork, qigong is believed to remove obstacles to promote a healthy flow of qi.

The slow and gentle movements are believed to warm up your tendons, ligaments, and muscles allowing your joints to mobilise. This will promote the circulation of body fluids (like blood, synovial, and lymph), says the National Qigong Association.

It is also believed that the gentle movements in qigong will help to lower blood pressure. One review and meta-analysis of seven studies (of 370 participants total) suggests that qigong may help reduce blood pressure in people with high blood pressure or hypertension. In one study included in the review, the blood-pressure-lowering effect of qigong was similar to that of a conventional exercise routine. The authors theorise that qigong’s benefits to the heart may be partly thanks to the repetitive movements, which boost blood flow and improve organ function.

This means that repetition is key for your internal health. You won’t need to do high intensity conventional exercise routines for the benefit you are looking for.

Qigong focuses on controlled, slow movements of the body to improve your awareness of your body in space, which helps increase balance, muscular strength, and flexibility. In a 2020 study in 95 adults ages 51–96, participants that practised weekly qigong for 12 weeks had significant improvements in balance and walking.

Much like yoga, pilates or other popular modern workouts, qigong will help you become stronger, more flexible and mentally tranquil. However, as the movements are gentle and smooth, it offers a more relaxed and doable form which can be great for those of us with physical limitations.

 

How to Get Into Qigong?

Getting into qigong can be a little confusing so, here are some tips on how to get started and incorporate it into your daily life.

Define your goals

We all have a reason to start a fitness journey or a new health routine. “Identifying why you want to try qigong will help inform what type of practice is best for you,” says Michael Sweeney, a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine and the deputy chair of the National Qigong Association.

For example, to gain muscle strength, improve speed and agility, you may want to check out martial forms of qigong. If you’re simply looking for general health benefits, aim for wellness-focused classes in your area.

You may also want to see how qigong might improve a chronic or acute condition for any injuries you might have had, so have a discussion with your doctor or physician to see the forms of qigong that might work best for your condition.

 

Be open to the practice

 

 

Yufang Lin, MD, an integrative medicine physician with the Center for Integrative Medicine at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio recommends going into your qigong sessions with curiosity and an open mind. Be observant to any sensations and changes you might experience throughout the practice and don’t hesitate to ask questions.

“Learn about the postures, practise them at home [as recommended by your teacher], and know that it will take time to become comfortable with the postures and breathing patterns,” Lin says.

Once you get the hang of it, you’ll feel the difference it can do to your overall well-being and general health. When you are open to understanding and learning more about the practice, you’ll benefit more from it.

 

 

Qigong is a meditation and healing practice that has been part of traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. With multiple health benefits, including lowered stress, anxiety, and increased focus, qigong is a much-needed remedy in our current society.

Most forms of qigong can be practised by people of all ages. If you’re interested in calming your mind and body, why not give qigong a try?