You might have heard about Qigong but not know much about it.
This is a type of Chinese meditation that has a special focus on the eyes, but it can be used to heal the body, mind, and spirit.
What does Qigong mean? Qigong means “energy work.” It’s sometimes called chi kung, chi gung, or qi gong.
Since our bodies’ natural energy or electromagnetic field, “qi”, requires balance in order for us to remain healthy, Qigong can be highly beneficial to help us better use and control our energy.
If you’d love to practice Qigong, here is everything you need to know to get started.
Table of Contents
- 1 Brief History Of Qigong
- 2 Is Qigong The Same As Tai Chi?
- 3 What Does Qigong Do?
- 4 Active Vs Passive Qigong
- 5 How To Get Started With Qigong
- 6 What Are The Benefits Of Qigong?
- 6.1 Qigong Improves Your Balance
- 6.2 It Improves Your Focus
- 6.3 It Relieves Depression And Anxiety
- 6.4 It Can Prevent And Better Manage Chronic Conditions
- 6.5 It Alleviates Stress
- 6.6 It Can Reduce Physical Pain
- 6.7 It Improves Your Blood Pressure
- 6.8 It Boosts Your Mood
- 6.9 It Improves Bone Density
- 6.10 It Prevents And Reduces Symptoms Of Diabetes
- 6.11 It Helps You Connect To The Self
- 6.12 It Balances Your Emotions
- 7 Should Your Eyes Be Open During Qigong?
- 8 Related Questions
- 9 Conclusion
Brief History Of Qigong
Qigong is a system that’s been built over a long period of time and it uses different types of training for greater health and spirituality.
During the 26th century B.C., Chinese Yellow Emperor Huangdi hired a seminal work on Chinese medicine.
It didn’t have a name, but this system contained many tenets of how the body’s energy, or qi, is maintained and manifested.
Then, about 1,000 years later, Emperor Di Yi was a firm believer in and supporter of the use of Chinese medical practices. In this way, Qigong continued to develop and its practices were refined.
Amazingly, early archeological discoveries at the Ma Huang Tui tombs uncovered dance-like and breathing postures which were used for health.
Researchers thought that Qigong originated from the dances of early Wu Shaman, especially since dancing was used in ceremonies to induce trance states to enable communication with the spirit world.
Is Qigong The Same As Tai Chi?
Tai Chi is a type of ancient Chinese healing that makes use of gentle movements, breathing exercises, and meditation. It’s a holistic type of meditation that focuses on ensuring better physical, spiritual, and mental health.
Although Qigong meditation is considered similar to Tai Chi in that it can treat health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and chronic fatigue, Qigong has some special benefits.
What About Yoga Vs. Qigong?
Qigong might be similar to Yoga in that you use certain poses and work on your breathing, but it’s not a type of Yoga. In fact, the two practices are very different.
Yoga focuses on poses that encourage greater stretching, balance, and strength as compared to Qigong.
The origins of Yoga and Qigong also vary. Yoga originated in ancient India and it’s not rooted in traditional Chinese medicine.
What Does Qigong Do?
Qigong meditation helps you to cultivate the energy inside your body so that you can increase all aspects of your health.
Poor health is thought to be caused by blocked energy that doesn’t flow through the twelve sections in the body. By practicing Qigong, the belief is that it can promote energy flow.
One of the most interesting features about this type of meditation is that it can be practiced in different ways. There are two main categories of Qigong: active and passive Qigong.
Active Qigong is when you use slow movements and postures to keep the energy flowing in your body, whereas passive Qigong is when you focus on calm breathing and stillness.
Active Vs Passive Qigong
Let’s take a closer look at active and passive Qigong to see how they compare and help you discover which one you might be interested in doing.
This meditation focuses on active movement and breathing that boosts your yang energy. Yang is symbolic of vibrancy and active energy, whereas Yin is calm and gentle energy.
During active Qigong, you will perform gentle, repetitive movements that enhance lymphatic drainage, strength, blood flow, as well as more awareness of your body in space.
During passive Qigong, you embrace the Yin energy. You will not move your body externally, but your mind will be at work cultivating and moving energy throughout the body.
This type of meditation is therefore very similar to how you would usually meditate. Passive Qigong contains two types: visualization and mental focus.
Despite having some differences, what both active and passive Qigong share is controlled breathing, a focus on visualization and relaxation, and good posture.
How To Get Started With Qigong
If you’ve never done any Qigong meditation before, you might not be sure how to start. Here’s how to begin with active and passive Qigong so you can incorporate their many benefits in your life.
How to do passive Qigong
- Sit in a chair so that you maintain good posture while being comfortable.
- Close your eyes and breathe in and out from your belly.
- Sit for a minimum of 10 minutes just trying to concentrate on your breathing.
If you want to add visualization to your Qigong meditation, it’s easy to do so. You should close your eyes and imagine relaxing or joyful things.
These visualizations will help you cultivate positive energy that flows throughout your body.
To further help this process along, visualize energy moving to a specific organ in the body. This can help you to focus on specific healing, as you can direct the visualization directly to an organ that requires help.
How to do active Qigong
Active Qigong is a more difficult type of meditation to do yourself. You should sign up for Qigong classes or check out guided videos, such as on YouTube.
You will need some instruction when you begin as you will have to master the different postures.
A useful routine that will help you is one from Yoqi Yoga and Qigong. This is a 30-minute routine that not only guides you through the session but also explains the breathing and Qigong techniques you will need to do.
Usually, a session of active Qigong will start with inhaling and exhaling so that you can better control your breathing. Then, postures are used to help you activate your energy.
What Are The Benefits Of Qigong?
Qigong has many benefits for the mind, body, and spirit.
It affects the autonomic nervous system, which regulates various bodily functions such as our respiratory system, urination, and heart rate, while being in control of our stress response.
Qigong affects this entire system, so it activates neurotransmitters that enable greater feelings of calm, which is healing to the body, mind, and soul.
With that in mind, let’s explore the various health benefits of qigong.
Qigong Improves Your Balance
Since you make use of slow and controlled movements during active Qigong, this improves your balance, flexibility, as well as muscular strength.
These are not benefits you only stand to gain if you’re young and fit. Research that monitored people between the ages of 51 and 96 found that when they did weekly Qigong for three months they experienced improved gait and balance.
It Improves Your Focus
There are many things that can cause you to lack focus, such as if you’re feeling stressed or have too much on your mind. By practicing Qigong on a regular basis, you can sharpen your focus and memory. When you slow down and connect with your inner self, you put yourself into a state of energy flow and relaxation, which encourages better focus and creative thought.
An easy exercise you can do to improve your mental focus is this one: breathe air into your belly, then your ribs, and then your chest. When you exhale, let the air get released from your chest, then your ribs, and then your belly. If you can do this for just a few minutes, you’ll feel that your body and mind relax and your mind becomes more focused.
It Relieves Depression And Anxiety
A study found that practicing Qigong can alleviate depression and feelings of distress in people undergoing cancer treatment. For patients battling breast cancer specifically and undergoing radiotherapy, Qigong was able to relieve their depressive symptoms.
If you’re feeling stressed or anxious, Qigong can help you to find a calmer state of being. Since Qigong is about controlled breathing and meditation, this is a powerful combination. Slower breathing informs your body that there is no threat and it slows down the body’s stress response system. It also helps you to clear your mind, which can eliminate anxious thoughts.
Another study that monitored people who practiced Qigong and compared their results to those who didn’t found that participants in the Qigong group experienced a better quality of life, lower cortisol levels that are associated with stress, and a more positive outlook after just 12 weeks of practicing it.
It Can Prevent And Better Manage Chronic Conditions
By reducing your stress and boosting your wellness, this promotes greater health. Not only could this prevent you from getting chronic illnesses, but it could help you to better manage your current health conditions.
Your immune system has the task of blocking harmful bacteria, diseases, and viruses so that they can’t affect your body. A review of different studies has found that Qigong positively impacts the immune system by increasing the levels of certain immune cells.
When it comes to helping you manage chronic conditions, the effects of Qigong on chronic conditions such as fatigue are being researched. In a study, when 64 people with chronic fatigue did four months of Qigong, they reported improved symptoms, such as enhanced mental functions and less fatigue, as compared to people who didn’t do Qigong.
It Alleviates Stress
The way you breathe during Qigong is one of the most important elements of it. Your breathing should be slow, deep, and relaxed, and it must originate from your diaphragm. This breathing relaxes the mind, which can be useful to erase stress and worry. Therefore, it’s good to practice Qigong when you’re feeling like stress is getting the better of you.
Qigong makes use of three important pillars of health: the body, breath, and mind. When your body feels relaxed, your breathing becomes slower. This in turn will help you to feel more calm and mentally centered.
In Wuhan, China, during the Covid pandemic, patients were motivated and encouraged to practice Qigong as a complementary treatment. This mind-body exercise was found to be useful for them because it reduces stress and promotes relaxation, while producing endorphins. These chemicals are not just mood boosters as they also interact with brain receptors that decrease your perception of pain in your body.
It Can Reduce Physical Pain
If you’re battling with pain in your body, you should start doing Qigong on a regular basis as it might alleviate your symptoms. While more research is required in this regard, studies that have already been done on Qigong’s benefits are promising.
In one study, 72 office workers who experienced lower back pain tried Qigong. After half of them did Qigong for six weeks, they experienced less pain as compared to the control group who didn’t do this meditation.
It Improves Your Blood Pressure
A study found that people with high blood pressure who used Qigong as an adjunctive therapy to their medication were able to significantly lower their blood pressure. The reason why this meditation is so useful for blood pressure is that it enhances blood circulation.
Even more beneficial is that Qigong has been found to reduce both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, therefore the study researchers have noted it’s an effective complementary therapy in the management of hypertension.
It Boosts Your Mood
Qi, or energy, exists in three main energy centers and they circulate through the body via 12 main pathways. When your energy is flowing freely, this prevents blockages that can cause health problems or bad moods.
Qigong, because it’s a mind-body technique, encourages better equilibrium of the body’s energy and therefore ensures it keeps flowing properly. Since practicing it makes use of meditative movements and breathing techniques, this encourages greater relaxation and reduces mood symptoms associated with stress, like anger and irritability.
It Improves Bone Density
Research has found that people who have osteoporosis usually experience arthritis and a loss of mobility, so doing regular Qigong is an effective way for them to maintain bone density and relieve their pain.
The beauty of Qigong is that you can practice it even if you’re ill or injured, unlike many other types of exercise. This is because Qigong is gentle on the body and easy for anyone to start practicing – and you could even do it while sitting down!
It Prevents And Reduces Symptoms Of Diabetes
While more research is required to find out how useful Qigong is for alleviating and perhaps even preventing health conditions, such as diabetes, studies that have already been done are promising. In one study, doing Qigong regularly improved people’s symptoms of Type 2 diabetes.
It was found to promote cell and tissue metabolism, improve how the body uses glucose, and improve the body’s tolerance to glucose, as a result of how it makes use of light and moderate-intensity aerobic exercise.
The study also mentioned that Qigong has an advantage over other types of aerobic exercise as a result of how it’s easy for anyone to learn and start performing regularly.
It Helps You Connect To The Self
Part of spiritual health is being able to connect to your inner self. Some people practice spiritual Qigong which makes use of hand positions (known as mudras), prayers, meditations, and mantras to find greater enlightenment. This practice encourages self-awareness and harmony between yourself and nature.
In this way, Qigong encourages a state of mindfulness, which is when you’re aware of the present moment, and your feelings and thoughts without judgement. This helps you to connect to the world around you and your inner self, which is good for your mental and spiritual well being.
It Balances Your Emotions
Qigong not only improves your physical balance but your emotional balance too. We can define emotional balance as being a state in which we look at our feelings honestly and have found a way to accept and integrate them.
By fostering a calm state of mind, we allow our feelings and thoughts to flow freely and this can help us better deal with them and accept them – even learn from them – instead of trying to push them away or ignore them.
As you know, suppressing our emotions can result in them placing physical stress on our bodies. Qigong can also help us release those negative emotions that can have a negative impact on our health.
Should Your Eyes Be Open During Qigong?
At the start of this article, we mentioned that this meditation practice has a special focus on the eyes.
This is because what you look at will help you to direct your energy. Imagine that you look at your right hand. When you do so, it makes it easier to direct your energy into your right hand instead of elsewhere.
In Chinese, the idea that where the mind goes is where energy follows is known as “yi leading the qi”.
The above is a reason why it can be useful to follow the movement of your hands or other body parts during Qigong poses with your gaze so that you can better manage and control the flow of your energy.
For how long should you do Qigong meditation?
You can do Qigong meditation daily, and sessions can last from 10 minutes to one hour. As with any type of meditation, you need to ensure you do it regularly so that you gain the most benefits from it.
Are there risks associated with doing Qigong?
Since it involves slow, gentle movements, there is a low risk of doing Qigong. However, there is always a risk of falling or hurting yourself and you should consult your doctor if you’re worried about any health conditions you have.
Is Qigong safe for seniors to do?
Since you can sit down while doing some Qigong exercises, seniors and people with mobility issues can partake in Qigong safely.
This is what makes Qigong such a valuable exercise for people with various health conditions, such as arthritis.
You might be familiar with meditation, but perhaps you’ve never heard of Qigong. This is a type of meditation that can be passive or active, but both methods offer many health benefits.
In this article, we’ve provided you with a guide on how to start Qigong as well as what you stand to gain from its many benefits. Not just based on improving your physical health, Qigong is a powerful meditation that improves your physical, mental, and spiritual well being.
We’ve also given you tips on how to start Qigong. While you might have assumed that it requires intensive training, the truth is that anyone can start a Qigong practice right now and start reaping the rewards.