What Is Qigong?
Qigong -- pronounced chee gong -- is a practice that involves a series of postures and
exercises including slow, circular movements, regulated breathing, focused meditation,
and self-massage.There are a variety of styles, and they are classified as martial,
medical, or spiritual. Some qigong styles are gentler like tai chi and can
easily be adapted. Others are more vigorous like kung fu.
One unique feature of qigong is its ability to train the mind to direct the body’s energy,
or chi, to any part of the body. Some believe that, when moved correctly, chi can
bring your body to a natural state of balance.
What Are the Health Benefits of Qigong?
Qigong is believed to relax the mind, muscles, tendons, joints, and inner organs --
helping to improve circulation, relieve stress and pain, and restore health. It’s practiced
widely in China’s clinics and hospitals.
Some believe that as a complement to Western medicine, qigong can help the body
heal itself, slowing or even reversing the effects of certain conditions. For example,
in a study lasting 20 years, people with hypertension were given drugs to control
blood pressure. At first, all participants had a drop in blood pressure, but blood
pressure among those who were practicing qigong stabilized over time. The qigong
group members were also able to lower their use of blood pressure drugs. The control
group, however, had an increase in blood pressure, requiring greater use of drugs.
In addition to lower blood pressure, qigong may have other benefits, including:
Increased s***ina and vitality
Enhanced immune system
Improved cardiovascular, respiratory, circulatory, lymphatic, and digestive functions
Decreased risk of falling
Reduced symptoms and improved function in people with fibromyalgia
Are There Any Special Precautions for Tai Chi or Qigong?
Both tai chi and qigong are gentle exercises with few risks. However, if you are older,
have a health condition, or have not exercised in a long time, talk to your doctor
before you try either of these practices. Think of both as complements to Western
medicine, and not replacements for it.In general, use caution if you are pregnant or
if you have a joint problem or severe osteoporosis. It’s best not to do tai chi or qigong
right after eating, if you are very tired, or if you have an active infection.