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What is Qigong And is it Right For You?

Can Qigong make the impossible possible in your life?

Qigong is an ancient Chinese mind/body practice that has moved into the Western health spotlight and is rapidly becoming popular. What it may do for you covers a lot of ground, judging by these exhilarated health care possibility reports from people of all ages.

Major research seems to be just getting started, but reports of lowering blood pressure, easing pain, fighting depression, helping cancer patients with quality of life, and improving balance have all come up.

Take a look at its possibilities and see what you think.

What it is and how to start: As a first cousin to Tai Chi, Qigong is made up of simple, repetitive circular motions, regulated breathing, focused meditation and self massage.

Many say it is simpler and easier to learn than Tai Chi.  Styles cover martial, medical and spiritual with gentle ones like Tai Chi, or vigorous ones like Kung Fu.

As you explore, you will find group Qigong classes, CD’s and online tutorials. In starting yoga and later Tai Chi, I found observing a class gives you the best sample of what’s happening. Then talking with an instructor can help you dial it in, letting you try it at home or in a class.

Look what happens when the body’s energy is directed to individual parts of the body. Unique to Qigong, the mind directs the body’s energy, ‘chi,’ to help you achieve natural balance, relax the mind, muscles, tendons, joints and internal organs and scoop up benefits:

Sharpening your mind as you relax.

Beefing up your immune system.

Lowering your blood pressure

Reducing your risk of falling

Improving cardio, lung, lymphatic, circulatory and digestive processes.

Dropping stress.

Right now it looks like Qigong works best in tandem with traditional methods. Look at these results:

A patient with severe knee pain said his knee is now pain free. 

A practicing heart specialist says he uses these breathing techniques as he stands at the scrub sink before an operation. He breathes deeply as he pictures how he wants the operation to go.  Athletes also use this technique to perform under pressure. We can all use these techniques to face daily challenges.

For cancer patients, Qigong can be done sitting or lying down if  there are physical limitations or pain. In a recent study at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center,  96 women getting radiation therapy for breast cancer, reported reduced depression with the addition of five weekly classes of Qigong. Fatigue was reduced and overall quality of life enhanced.

High blood pressure studies show the benefits of Qigong. In a 20 year hypertension study patients were put in Qigong or a control group. Both were given blood pressure medication. At first, blood pressure dropped for both groups.  But over time  blood pressure for the Qigong group stabilized and they needed less blood pressure medication. On the other hand, the control group experienced increases in blood pressure and needed more medication.  

As always, when considering new exercises, talk with your doctor first. As research proceeds, health care professionals suggest using Qigong as a complement to traditional medicine, not a replacement.


Story Credits:

Image Credit: Possibilities Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Arya Ziai

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