Every human body is an intricate web of channels in which energy flows. When the energy flows freely through these channels the way it should, our bodies are said to be in optimum health. It is a balance of energy or qi (pronounced chee), as the Chinese call it, that we strive for in maintaining fit and healthy bodies.
Qi itself is usually translated to mean the life force or vital-energy that flows through all things in the universe. Regardless of what form of exercise you are doing and for what purpose, ultimately qi is at the very heart of your efforts towards wellbeing, be it to increase energy, to burn off excess energy, to circulate energy or to balance energy.
Cultivating energy is what Qigong (Chi Kung), the ancient Chinese health care practice, translates to mean. Many martial art forms derive from Qigong, which itself involves gentle exercises that focus on three main elements – breathing, posture and mind. It aims to promote the movement of energy in the body by opening certain gates and stretching and twisting energy channels within the body.
The practice of Qigong and Tai Chi are familiar sights in parks worldwide, where practitioners and followers often take in their early morning energy fix prior to going about their busy lives.
Qigong is practiced for different reasons including health maintenance, healing, increasing vitality, improving martial arts skills and for spiritual development.
Its ability to help in healing a large variety of chronic and acute injuries and illnesses has been widely documented in Chinese medical research, and Western scientific research has found that Qigong reduces the hypertension and promotes longevity.
Through a series of gentle, rhythmic movements Qigong is known to reduce stress, build stamina, increase vitality, and enhance the immune system.
Just a few minutes of these simple movements can have far-reaching effects on the body. Like yoga, central to Qigong practice is relaxation and deep breathing, both of which are prerequisites to allow Qi to flow. The breath should be relaxed, slow and deep, originating from the diaphragm. This type of breathing has a very calming and balancing effect on the mind, which is crucial in counter-acting the effects of stress on the body. And this meditative practice re-establishes the soul-body-mind connection which so easily gets buried as people go about their busy lives.
Qi Gong, like acupuncture, focuses on the body’s meridian system. Many movements focus on gently opening and stretching the joints and muscles of the body, releasing tension that has often been stored in the body for years and so creating inner balance and harmony.
According to Chinese medicine, the energy relating to the body’s internal organs flows around the extremities of the body – the hands and the feet. Contrary to Western exercise which focuses primarily on muscular development and cardiovascular fitness, Qigong is concerned with strengthening all of the internal systems. So by stretching the arms and legs in specific movements in Qigong, the health of the internal organs can be improved. By increasing the flow of blood and energy, Qigong helps to fully nourish all parts of the body.
Specific exercises within Qigong are designed to nourish each of the internal organs, the sensory organs, the tendons and ligaments, the reproductive organs and the digestive system.
Qigong can be enjoyed and practiced by all age groups of varying physical capabilities. There are numerous types of Qigong exercise ranging from the easy to the challenging. And although simple to learn, its benefits are immeasurable to soul, body and mind.
Rosalind Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She is a journalist who writes about sustainable life & style, music, entertainments and wellbeing. Rosalind also works as a spiritual life coach and intuitive advisor helping people to become who they truly are and manifest their heart & soul’s desires into their lives: www.rosalindmedea.com