Qi Gong for Stress Relief, Healing and Mind-Body Connection
Qi Gong – pronounced ‘chee gong’ – is an ancient practice from China that’s a combination of meditation and movement. In fact, it’s more of a movement meditation than a form of exercise. It tunes you up as it chills you out, but make no mistake: it builds strength and stamina as much as going to the gym, but without forcing or pushing yourself. And with slow controlled breathing and movements, Qi Gong exercises offer super-charged stress relief and mind-body connection for anyone, whatever your physical ability or fitness.
Qi Gong Exercises for Chilling Out & Getting Clear
Qi Gong involves gentle, rhythmic and circular movements, regulated breathing, focused meditation, and self-massage. The movements are synchronized with the breath. If you try out a Qi Gong class, which progresses through three levels, at level one you’ll practice basic movements at a slow pace, while at the further levels there’s a bit more complexity. So what’s in it for you? Qi Gong helps you develop a crystal clear mind as you connect with the present moment, letting go of the stress of daily life and relaxing deeply. Qi Gong exercises allow you to connect with your mind and body through the use of abdominal breathing and attention to your breath and movement. Mindfulness meditation is a key part of Qi Gong practice, and will help you to stay centered even in a crazy busy day. You’ll also stay healthier as your immune system is strengthened, and studies show that Qi Gong works well for ailments like chronic fatigue, asthma, headaches and pain. Qi Gong exercises also pack a punch when it comes to depression, insomnia and mood swings. It keeps your memory sharp as it helps you to use more of your brain – which might normally be switched off in couch potato mode. At the same time, your brain will go into a very calm state – even calmer than in sleep! But you’re alert and with it at the same time.
Where to Start with Qi Gong: Classes, Home Practice & Different Forms
As well as classes, you can try out Qi Gong in the comfort of your own home with a home study program. Gaiamtv has videos that guide you through Qi Gong exercises. This link has some helpful resources such as hints to get you started with finding a teacher, and free videos. If you want to study Qi Gong for yourself, or complement what you’re learning in classes, here’s a book to try. Just a short period of practice each day will make a difference and build up your strength – and exercise your calm muscle. It’s often recommended to practice Qi Gong first thing in the morning to set you up for the day, but you can also practice at night just before bed, to let go of the stress of the day, and during any gaps where you feel your energy flagging and want to re-connect to yourself and your qi! After you’ve chosen a form of Qi Gong that suits you, Qi Gong teachers suggest staying with a particular form for at least 100 days – consistency is the key.
So What is this Qi, Anyway? Benefits & Theory of Qi Gong
We all have qi – life force energy – you just might not know it. How healthy and happy we feel is, basically, about the free flow of this qi, which is always there, but can become blocked in certain organs or channels through the body, causing illness, stress and tiredness. Qi Gong is all about unblocking our qi and allowing it to flow freely, so that our bodies and minds can experience the health and well-being we’re meant to. Amazingly, you can learn to direct your qi to the areas in your body that need it – through the power of your awareness and using visualization. There are thousands of styles of Qi Gong to choose from, such as Zhineng Qi Gong, Spring Forest Qi Gong, Walking Qi Gong and Sleeping Qi Gong. It’s likely that you’ll start out with self-healing Qi Gong: this will get your energy flowing and help you explore your mind-body connection. Zhineng Qi Gong, which has three levels, is one of the methods of this type. It includes a focus on movement, posture, breathing and meditation, with basic movements at the first level, and the use of sound, breathing and movement at the third level. There’s also spiritual Qi Gong, such as Fo Gong and Tao Gong, which uses mantras, mudras (hand positions), and sitting meditation with the goal of spiritual enlightenment. You might have heard of Tai Chi, a more active style of Qi Gong that looks a bit like a slow-motion dance and works on the whole body and mind.
Qi Gong by Many Names: From China to the West
Qi Gong has been around for around 2,500 years, called by different names – but scholars believe techniques like Qi Gong might have existed as far back as five thousand years ago. Qi-gong may have started out as a kind of ‘remedy dancing’ for healing and maintaining health. Big changes came to the world of Qi Gong from the founding of the Chinest Republic in the early 20th century, with many Qi Gong styles starting to be taught openly. People started to discover links between Chinese Qi Gong and similar energy practices in countries such as India and Japan. In the 1970’s as China and the West began to interact more, Western society started to catch on to Qi Gong, with alternative health care practitioners taking it up. In the 1990’s Qi Gong practice spread to the public at large, and today Qi Gong is practiced by millions of people from different backgrounds, all around the world.
Why is it Ripe and Ready?
Qi Gong sharpens your mind, chills you out and builds your strength to face a sometimes chaotic world, by recognizing and channeling the energy in your body and mind.