By Rob Haroth, M.A., MMQ, Certified NQA Qigong Instructor, Certified NQA Clinical Qigong Practitioner
Qigong can be described as a mind-body-spirit practice that improves one's mental and physical health by integrating posture, movement, breathing technique, self-massage, sound, and focused intent. There are many Qigong styles, schools, traditions, forms, and lineages, each with practical applications and different theories about Qi (“subtle breath” or “vital energy”) and Gong (“skill cultivated through steady practice”).
Qigong opens the flow of energy in meridians used in acupuncture and Chinese medicine. It enhances our ability to feel the Life Force (Qi) underlying the physical world and to deepen our communication with it.
Physically, slow gentle Qigong movements warm tendons, ligaments, and muscles; tonify vital organs and connective tissue; and promote circulation of body fluids (blood, synovial, lymph). Many studies have shown Qigong to be an effective practice to address health challenges ranging from high blood pressure and chronic illness, to emotional frustration, mental stress, and spiritual crisis. The gentle, rhythmic movements of Qigong reduce stress, build stamina, increase vitality, and enhance the immune system. It has also been found to improve cardiovascular, respiratory, circulatory, lymphatic, and digestive functions.
Those who maintain a consistent practice of Qigong find that it helps one regain a youthful vitality, maintain health into old age, and increases the speed of recovery from illness. Western scientific research confirms that Qigong reduces hypertension and the incidence of falling in the aged population. One of the more important long-term effects is that Qigong reestablishes the body/mind/soul (Jing, Qi, Shen) connection.
What is Medical or Clinical Qigong?
Medical Qigong therapy is the eldest therapeutic modality of Chinese medicine. It is a comprehensive system of health care, addressing the root cause of symptoms or disease, while treating the client as a whole. Medical Qigong treatments are based upon a differential diagnosis rooted in Chinese medical theory.
In a Medical Qigong treatment, the practitioner, having developed through dedicated study and self-cultivation the ability to sense and manipulate energy, uses Qi emission to restore health and wellness to the client. The practitioner may also teach various Qigong exercises and meditations to further the health of the client. Practiced as an adjunct to Western medicine, medical Qigong and Chinese medicine may successfully treat conditions which Western medicine finds resistant or ambiguous.
Medical Qigong can be used to address many common ailments or health concerns, including mental, physical, or emotional stressors; physical pain; high blood pressure; headaches; anxiety; or depression. Relief may happen quickly for some or can occur slowly over time – every person’s experience is unique.
How can I get started with Qigong?
- Explore some of the many excellent instructional books and videos available to get a feel for modalities and instruction styles.
- Seek referrals in your area and visit local classes. Talk to instructors to get a feel for their teaching style.
- Attend Qigong conferences and events to sample many styles of Qigong and practitioners from around the world.
- Once you find a style and instructor you feel comfortable with, it is important to develop a consistent, daily practice.
When beginners ask, "What is the most important aspect of practicing Qigong?" The answer is always..."just do it."
For more information, visit the following websites:
National Qigong Association - https://nqa.memberclicks.net/
Qi Encyclopedia - http://qi-encyclopedia.com/
The Qigong Institute - https://qigonginstitute.org/
Three Treasures Holistic Health - http://www.threetreasures.biz/
Chan, J. S., Ho, R. T., Chung, K., Wang, C., Yao, T., Ng, S., & Chan, C. L. (2014). Qigong Exercise Alleviates Fatigue, Anxiety, and Depressive Symptoms, Improves Sleep Quality, and Shortens Sleep Latency in Persons with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome-Like Illness. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine,2014, 1-10. doi:10.1155/2014/106048
Lin, C., Wei, T., Wang, C., Chen, W., Wang, Y., & Tsai, S. (2018). Acute Physiological and Psychological Effects of Qigong Exercise in Older Practitioners. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine,2018, 1-10. doi:10.1155/2018/4960978
Johnson, J. A. (2002). Chinese medical Qigong therapy (Vol. 1). Pacific Grove, CA: International Institute of Medical Qigong.