What is Qigong
Our busy and stressful lives have led to us becoming more focused on our minds, bodies, and spirits as a whole. We need to take better care of ourselves. With that focus, it isn’t much of a surprise that the art of Qigong has received attention around the world in recent years. Many people wonder what is Qigong.
Qigong is a physical art form from China that focuses on managing your mind, body, and spirit as one. It teaches several techniques together to focus on the whole person. Those who practice Qigong learn to work their breathing in line with their movement and mental awareness. The art form is over 3,000 years old and is both a healing and meditative art.
It is a gentle exercise and art form. Some people compare it to the art of Tai Chi, but the arts are different though they look very similar.
Qigong consists of a combination of aspects that are practiced together. Breathing and movement is combined with focus. During the practice of Qigong you will move every part of your body in specific patterns while matching your thoughts and breathing to said patterns.
You may also hear Qigong referred to as chi gung or chi kung. Qi means vital energy and subtle breath. Gong means expertise developed by precise practice. Every school of Qigong has a different interpretation about what this means. However, for most, it is a smooth, slow form of movement that is very similar to a martial art. Some schools and styles actually teach it as a martial art.
Although Qigong is closely tied to Taoism, you don’t have to be religious in order to practice the art. People of all religions and even those with no religion at all practice it. To help accommodate those people who want to practice Qigong as an art form, meditation form, or healing form instead of a religious form some instructors focus on just the practice of Qigong as opposed to its religious connections.
On a more philosophical line, the art of Qigong operates by using the mind and body to direct one’s chi. As you practice Qigong you can start to feel the effect it has on your body through the nerves, muscles, and control of the mind that is developed.
The Benefits of Qigong for Health and More
Although there are now many different styles of Qigong with the Westernization of the art and the number of people teaching, Qigong can be very beneficial. Especially when you look at Qigong for health. These benefits come in the form of health, mental fortitude, and physical ability. Let’s take a brief look at the Qigong benefits because there are a number of them.
Most aspects of Qigong will work to calm your mind. From the breathing techniques that you learn to the practice of focusing on every aspect of your body, you learn to clear your mind. This results in a great level of mental calmness. In fact, many people refer to both Tai Chi and Qigong as forms of meditation for exactly that reason.
You can use the same breathing techniques that you learn during Qigong to calm yourself in stressful situations. The physical moves can be beneficial, but they are not needed in order to start relaxing your mind.
Some forms of Qigong are practiced with a focus on meditation. These are great for those who are trying to be calmer or better their minds. A focus on meditation makes it an even more focused experience and one that not everyone enjoys.
A Healthier Heart
As you move through your Qigong stages, you will increase your circulation. Those who practice Qigong for health notice the improved circulation as a warmth and tingling sensation throughout their body. Improved circulation helps to moderate blood pressure and through that increase the health of your heart.
Anytime that you engage in regular physical activity, you start to improve your heart health. This comes from the increased stamina and the physical exercising of your body.
Advanced practitioners of both Tai Chi and Qigong are often able to control their heart rate by focusing on their breathing and meditation. This can help to reduce strain on the heart. The reduced stress from the same breathing and meditation techniques helps to reduce problems for your heart.
Better Physical Coordination and Condition
When practicing Qigong for health you are required to learn how to control every part of your body for each move. There is a proper way to hold yourself and then a way to move from one position to the next. As you learn these positions you also learn how to control your body in detail. In addition to better control of your body you will become more flexible and learn enhanced balance.
For older adults, Qigong has proven to be very beneficial. It is shown to improve overall physical capability despite the effects of aging. To achieve these positive affects, you need to be a regular practitioner of Qigong for a minimum of six months. Continuing with Qigong will continue to help you stay physically capable as you age.
In addition to all of this, your general physical condition will improve. Like with any other physical activity, you burn fat and build up muscle. Any kind of movement is helpful to your physical condition. Especially if you spend a large portion of your day sitting at a desk.
A lot of martial arts practitioners will use Tai Chi or Qigong as a secondary art. One to help them hone their control of their body and thus their art. This comes from the better physical coordination and condition that is received from Qigong.
Enhanced Immune Systems
After a study at the Hospital of Guangzhou Medical University, it was determined that all arts similar to Qigong have a big boost toward your immunity. One of the ways that it helps with the immune system is to help with overall health. Other effects such as the improved circulation aids in increased immunity. The above-mentioned study was conducted with participants who were diagnosed with cancer. It showed health benefits and also a higher quality of life.
Diminished Chronic Pain
For many people who suffer from chronic pain, Qigong can be a big relief. While practicing Qigong you are stretching out your entire body. Working almost every muscle and joint but in a slow way that allows your body time to adjust. Of course, Qigong should be used in conjunction with traditional treatment, but studies have shown significant reductions in chronic pain when practicing Qigong and similar arts.
Joint pain, osteoarthritis and other degenerative diseases can all be benefited by using Qigong.
How To Start Qigong For Beginners
Qigong is an easy art for Qigong beginners. You will be able to start learning quickly. The further you delve into the art, the more difficult it becomes. But like many other exercise or art, you can become good at it through practice.
However, one should know that many practitioners find it much easier to learn Qigong than the similar art of Tai Chi. In Qigong the art is slower and simplistic. That makes it great for Qigong for beginners. Those new to the art will often have a better time learning as they will catch on quicker. For the same reason, some people call Tai Chi a more advanced form of Qigong.
So how do you start learning Qigong for beginners?
If you don’t want to spend money, you can try to learn Qigong off YouTube and with the help of books. Some people have been able to do this with great effort. You do not get the hands-on experience of being with an instructor though. Should you be doing something wrong, you wouldn’t know. This can be quite harmful for Qigong for beginners as it starts to ingrain in your brain that way.
Almost any city of decent size that you travel to in the world will have a Qigong practice. Finding that practice is the trick. Many Qigong practices are smaller and more personal than similar arts. Qigong beginners should start by looking at studios, facilities, and similar areas that offer Tai Chi. Many of these places will also offer Qigong. Sometimes alternative medicine facilities such as acupuncture practices offer Qigong too since it has shown so much benefit
After you have found a place to practice Qigong for beginners, you should try at least a couple of lessons before you decide to continue on.
An important factor to keep in mind when picking out a place to study Qigong is the focus of the area. Qigong for health is only the focus of some practitioners. Other studios practice with a focus on religion/philosophy. Some do both.
Now that you know the answer to “what is Qigong” and the many Qigong benefits, you know that it can be very beneficial. If you are interested in better health and clarity, we recommend you try Qigong. Almost everyone who tries it, finds that it can work for them with the right mindset.