“Qigong is accessible to absolutely everyone. I’ve taught extreme athletes, and extreme couch potatoes. I’ve taught 20-somethings and 80-somethings.” – Anthony Korahais, Director of Flowing Zen
What is QiGong? #
QiGong is a holistic practice with roots in Chinese medicine and philosophy involving slow, graceful movements and deep, controlled breathing. In China, it is practiced widely and has a growing worldwide following. QiGong and Tai Chi might seem very similar but where Tai Chi is mainly about practicing a set of coordinated movements called "the form" and is fundamentally a martial art, QiGong focusses on cultivating the Qi, or life energy, with the aim to balance the body in general, then to balance it further within the context of one’s environment.
Why Choose QiGong? #
The short answer is because anyone can do it. It is exercise that doesn’t FEEL like exercise. It gets the body moving without stress or high impact intensity. There are no strength or flexibility requirements, and for that reason, it is empowering to those who have been intimidated by exercise regimes in the past. And the most important reason why you should try it is because it makes you feel great!
Some studies have even pointed out that it’s a great sport for those of us who can never seem to regulate our core body temperatures – and this is where it gets particularly interesting for those of us living on Mallorca. The gentle flow of the movements coupled with visualization techniques help bring warmth to even the coldest of fingers and toes in winter, and the lack of intense physical exertion combined with the meditative aspects don’t overheat the body in warm weather. Think of it like internal air conditioning.
QiGong Breathing Exercise to Regulate Your Energy #
- When you are new to this exercise, find yourself a quiet place where you won't be disturbed. Once you are familiar with it you'll find you can do it anywhere whenever you have a few minutes time to spare, whether you are waiting at a bus stop or queuing at the Oficina de Extranjería to get your Residency Card.
- You can do the exercise either standing up or siting on a chair with both feet are firmly planted on the ground. The more flexible ones among you might also chose to sit cross-legged on the floor. There is no good or bad here. The only thing that matters is that you feel comfortable and your back is straight.
- Close your eyes and breathe deeply, focusing on the air flowing in through your nostrils, down to your belly and up again, and out through your nostrils. Relax.
- Now visualize your in-breath – and with it your life energy or Qi – flowing even further down inside your body, along your front side, all the way down into your pelvis and then back up again, this time at the rear of your body, following your spine up into your skull and along its curve, and down again inside your head, behind your forefront, brows and eyes, and out through your mouth.
- Breathe gently in and out, and feel your energy moving in a slow, relaxing circle, down to your pelvis along the front of your body, up along your spine, changing direction inside your skull, down into your pelvis, up into your head, down and up. And with every inhalation, you take in all the warmth or cool your body needs. And with every exhalation you let go of any excess heat or cold you feel.
- When you feel it's time to end your exercise, take your time to move your fingers and toes, rub your hands against each other and place them on your eyes before you open them with one last deep relaxing breath. Enjoy the warming or cooling effect you feel. And don't forget to smile.
Strong Medicine #
Research concerning QiGong has been conducted for a wide range of medical conditions, including hypertension, arthritis, depression and cancer. The studies are positive but not entirely conclusive. That being said, the benefits may be more tangible to practitioners than the medical study findings suggest. It’s a mostly common sense approach to health, and for many, it works.
For example, calming the mind and body allows for healing. Makes sense, right? How about strengthening muscles through simple movements, thus preventing falls, keeping joints limber, and improving posture? Yep, again, makes perfect sense. What about flowing with gentle weight bearing movements, helping balance and positively impacting bone density? And achieving a relaxed state of mind reducing stress? Check and check. These are some of the simple premises that underlie the health benefits of QiGong.
So why not give it a try? A whole lot of gain, with no pain. Sounds like a winner to me!
By Stephanie Horsman
26 March, 2019