Qigong translates as ‘energy cultivation’ and gives us the opportunity to create our own good energy. It is a holistic health system that promotes physical, emotional and mental wellbeing. The principles involve posture, breath, movement and mind awareness, all of which go towards balancing the Qi energy in the body. Qi is life energy and is the same concept as Prana in Yoga, or Ki in the Japanese martial arts. If you, or anyone you know, have had an acupuncture treatment, you will be familiar with the concept of Qi: the acupuncturist places needles along energy channels to rebalance the flow of Qi which allows the body to heal itself.
I wrote The Qigong Bible to show how easy it is to increase your health and energy levels with Qigong. Once you understand a few basic principles, some Qigong moves can be learned in only five minutes. There are thousands of Qigong exercises, but by learning just a small selection you can gain many benefits. During my long teaching experience, I have witnessed people improve their balance, become stronger and calmer, and more able to cope with everyday problems. Our world seems so full of uptight and anxious people but Qigong offers a solution with its ability to calm the nervous system and create a sense of flow. Another noticeable result is that many people find a renewed source of youthful vitality within themselves, becoming more positive about their lives. Their sense of focus and enjoyment enables them to live in the present moment, and problems dissolve away when practising Qigong.
Qigong has a long history that goes back five thousand years and is considered to be one of China’s national treasures. It is the nearest the Chinese have come to finding the elixir of youth and is widely considered to be a longevity art.
Most Qigong exercises are performed standing, but some are practised in a seated position. Most involve flowing movement, but some are stationary.
When watching someone performing a Qigong move, one might think that it is just a form of slow, flowing exercise – but there is much move involved. Fluidity and connection to the earth require the qualities of relaxation in both body and mind, rhythmic soft abdominal breathing, posture that is in harmony with gravity, a feeling of connection in all parts of the body, and a calm focussed state of mind. These qualities improve over time with regular practice. I always recommend that people have a hint of a smile, as this relaxes the face and releases your brain’s feel-good chemicals.
Qigong can be adapted to suit all abilities and health conditions. Whether you are young or old, weak or strong, mobile or incapacitated, moves can be adapted to suit everyone. Whether you prefer movement to be easy or challenging, is never a problem, simply choose the moves that are right for you. There are exercises to suit every type of person.
People practise Qigong for many reasons, but most practise for health: physical, emotional or mental. A lesser number of people practise for martial prowess and some practise for spiritual development. When asking a Chinese person why they practise, they might respond “To balance the Three Treasures’” This is too long a topic to go into in this article, but it is fully explained in The Qigong Bible.
Traditional Chinese Medicine takes a holistic view of the person and there is no division between the physical, emotional and mental aspects of the human body. If a person lacks energy, they might be prescribed a Qigong course to cultivate their own energy. This whole idea of taking responsibility for our own energy levels is empowering. Many people in the West feel enervated but feel powerless to do anything about it. Qigong provides one way to alter the way you feel.
I would estimate that up to 40% of the average person’s daily energy is wasted in unnecessary tension. Qigong practice allows you to identify this tension and release it. The mind and body are trained to act in unison to release tension, and this alone can restore energy.
In my many years of teaching Qigong, I have been delighted to observe hundreds of people become fitter, more supple, better balanced, calmer and more able to cope with everyday problems as a result of their Qigong practice. Qigong encourages a feeling of flow, which calms the nervous system and stimulates all the life processes of the body. The ability to move effortlessly without tension brings a sense of freedom and delight, and this is transformational on many levels. Even a small amount of regular practice, as little as ten minutes a day, brings health benefits as well as enjoyment and a sense of wellbeing.