With the global pandemic, it’s safe to say that most of us battle more stress than usual these times. And yes, you would love to lessen that stress and take care of your well-being. But is it too much to ask?
The truth is, ten minutes is more than enough to practice qi gong per day. This legendary Chinese practice can help relieve stress making your body function better. Also, this practice requires no special training or tools too!
In this guide, let’s talk about this age-old Chinese practice, its variation of meditation and how-to, the great mind-body benefits it can give, and find out how this practice relates to yoga.
Qi Gong 101: Everything You Need to Know
The practice of qi gong existed thousands of years ago in China. It covers the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) principles where the qi, better known as “chi” or energy, sleeps in everyone’s body and needs to be awakened.
Your qi should be openly flowing throughout your body for you to reach your full potential. If your qi becomes stagnant or getting blocked in a specific area, health issues may arise.
This ancient practice uses easy poses and simple breathwork to improve your health and prevent qi stagnation. A correct flow of qi can lead the body to heal from within, and qi gong means “to work with qi.”
PS. Have you ever wondered, what is Dussehra? If so, we dig deep into it as well as top recommendations for online yoga classes that you should read about before you subscribe!
Qi Gong Meditation
Qi gong meditation is an ancient Chinese therapeutic practice composed of meditation, breathwork techniques, and subtle movements. This practice can help cultivate the energy and power of nature straight into your body for better physical, mental, and spiritual health.
In the TCM principle, bad health results from an imbalanced or blocked energy unable to circulate freely throughout the body. Thus, qi gong meditation can help open your qi to flow freely, which in turn improves your overall well-being.
Qi gong meditation is widely used in China. In fact, this practice is a common exercise, a way of relaxation, recreation, and physical and mental healing. Also, this practice is applied in martial arts training. But even with its widespread use, the theory that supports the qi practice is not enough.
There are two main ways to practice qi gong meditation: active (dynamic) qi gong where it uses slow, subtle movements, and passive qi gong, which covers stillness and simple breathing techniques.
Qi gong can either be practiced by yourself or with a qi gong therapist. With a qi gong therapist, they share qi for you to heal while practicing by yourself is a self-healing technique without the help of anyone other than you.
No matter what method of qi practice you decide to take on, the goal is to make the energy flow freely throughout the body and reconnect with the earth for better health and body function. That said, let’s go deeper into qi gong’s two variations of meditation.
Active Qi Gong
Active qi gong requires intentional, dynamic movement and breathing techniques that help refines the yang energy.
In TCM, the yang energy corresponds to the active energy, strength, and power. Yin energy, on the other hand, represents passive energy, stillness, and softness.
It covers repetitive gentle, combined movements to improve blood and lymphatic drainage, flexibility, specific muscle groups, and a better awareness beyond the body, also known as proprioception.
This type of qi gong practice shares identical characteristics with passive qi gong, like a good posture, proper breathing, stress management, and visualization.
Active qi gong’s goal is to keep your body flowing continually. Unlike yoga – which usually about static stretches – this type of practice allows you to keep your body from moving through multiple movement sequences while meditating.
Because qi gong practice involves a sequence of movements, it’s best to enter a beginner’s class first or watch videos online.
Ideally, to further promote connectedness, this type of practice should be done in a group setting as TCM believes it is essential for health and recovery.
Passive Qi Gong
Passive qi gong concentrates on nurturing the yin energy through the stillness of the body and mental refinement of qi energy. During this process, the body is completely motionless.
However, the mind is actively wandering and moving all together with the qi energy throughout the body. This practice is very much identical to your traditional meditation.
Passive qi gong is very identical to traditional meditation; both apply mental concentration or ru jing and visualization or cun si.
To practice mental concentration, sit comfortably with closed eyes in an upright position, inhale and exhale with your belly. Preferably, sit for at least ten minutes – or longer – as you concentrate on your breathing.
The visualization process is the same but with an added imagination. With eyes closed, imagine anything that sparks comfort or relaxation. You can use these visualizations to absorb positive energy into your body.
You can also visualize energy coming from specific vital organs or any part of the body that needs healing. Whether you are taking on active or passive qi gong, remember not just to enjoy the process but take precautions as well.
Yoga vs Qi Gong
Regardless of what age or size you are, both yoga and qi gong practice have mind-body benefits. That said, let’s discover these benefits one by one and help you decide on what therapeutic practice you should take.
Yoga Health Benefits
The benefits of yoga depend on which style you enter, but most of it shares the same perks. For example, as long as you practice carefully, with mindfulness towards your body and yourself, any Bikram or Restorative class can make you feel good and calm.
The practice of yoga alone will either shape up your body or improve your flexibility, but most of the time, this happens both to yogis. Yin yoga, for example, can help stretch your ligaments and tendons a little bit more. On the flip side, Vinyasa yoga is suitable for refining your core, quads, and other muscle groups.
Yoga practice can also improve your meditation. With the breathing techniques and stillness it promotes, you can enter in a meditative state more easily.
Because yoga is more demanding – in terms of physical – than qi gong, you will feel a little bit of muscle fatigue after stepping out in a class. The same feeling when your legs went for a long walk: exercised, but not worn out.
Qi Gong Health Benefits
Studies have shown that the practice of qi gong offers multiple health benefits. However, further studies should be made since the results are insufficient on whether qi gong can really treat or even stop health problems.
Still, many people claim that the mind-body benefits they get from qi gong are worth the effort. It’s super safe for almost anyone to try. So far, here’s what the researchers found out:
Reduces Stress Symptoms
A study found that qi gong can help reduce the symptoms of stress. In this research, those who practice qi gong experienced minimal agitation and better moods than those who didn’t. Qi gong practice also improved bone and cardiovascular function and influenced better stability.
Relieves Chronic Fatigue
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a common illness that leads to extreme weariness. The cause is unknown, and it doesn’t disappear with resting. People with this disorder will find it hard to function in their everyday lives.
In research, sixty-four people with chronic fatigue felt better after practicing qi gong for three months. Their mental function is better, and they felt less fatigue compared to those who didn’t.
If you feel tired most of the time, and your health provider has ruled out any medical treatments, practicing qi gong won’t disappoint.
Better Immune System
Your immune system is responsible for warding off diseases, viruses, and bacterias alike, and qi gong can back that up!
A study found that practicing qi gong had an evident impact on the immune response. It boosts levels of specific immune cells for people who practice qi gong regularly.
Good Exercise for Cancer Patients
People who are undergoing cancer treatments need relief from within and the stress that the treatment makes. Usually, they run to alternative healing practices like yoga, acupuncture, and massage— qi gong should be part of this list, isn’t it?
Some results suggest that practicing qi gong can help cancer patients by relieving fatigue and reducing mood imbalances. Remember that qi gong won’t affect you overnight. Like any form of exercise, you need time and patience to master it to reap its full mind-body benefits.
Practice Qi Gong Today
While entering class is helpful, it’s not always necessary. Most people learn qi gong online these days. Qi gong can help you direct a better body function. Plus, it’s totally free, it doesn’t require much time, and easy to practice.
Walking for twenty minutes every day is also an effective method to refine your health, lessen stress, and encourage a better sleeping habit. If you’re unsure what wellness activity to do, qi gong is an excellent option. But before anything else – if you have an existing health condition – it’s best to seek advice from your health care provider whether or not you are suitable for this healing practice.