Qigong: An Ancient Balancing Practice- PUBLISHED AT APOTHECAI.COM
“QIGONG IS SIMPLE AND PROFOUND. WITH DILIGENT PRACTICE, YOUR HEALTH WILL IMPROVE, YOUR FRAME OF MIND WILL IMPROVE, AND YOUR SPIRIT WILL SHINE IN YOUR EYES.”
—Jane Golden, Tai Chi and Qigong Master
Qigong is an ancient Chinese practice that focuses on cultivating and balancing Qi. Qi translates to life force, while gong can mean work or cultivation. A breathing practice, qigong coordinates breath with movement and mental focus.
There are several hundreds of styles of qigong, and they all share the intention of generating Qi and circulating it through our body’s internal energy channels or meridians. Practice involves a variety of movements, self massage, sound, and mental focus. These aspects are aimed at increasing vital energy and directing it with focused intention. Qigong practitioners direct the cultivated energy into a martial arts, medical, or spiritual focus.
A practice centered around martial arts may be used to increase physical strength and stamina or to practice directing Qi to an external object. The martial arts movements in Qigong are often physically intensive.
Medical Qigong is practiced to balance and open energy meridians in the body. Clearing the meridians of blockages and promoting the circulation of vital energy maintains health and prevents illness. Medical Qigong invites practitioners to be active participants in their healing.
A spiritual focus in Qigong leads the practitioner to perform meditative postures that focus and clear the mind. Many of the moving meditations are inspired by the natural world, with movements like a river or a bird, or standing in stillness like a mountain. These movements bring us into harmony with the natural world and foster a connection with spirit.
Qigong balances the different aspects of your being—mind, body and spirit.
According to basic tenets of the practice, balancing the mind can result in the reduction of stress and depression, and bring about deeper contentment; balancing the body can reduce muscle or joint pain and increase physical vitality; and balancing the spirit increases ambition and enthusiasm, and gives practitioners a deeper sense of oneness or wholeness.
Three Simple Movements to Balance Qi
QUIGONG BOUNCING: FREE YOUR ENERGY AND PROMOTE LONGEVITY
Stand with your feet hips-width and parallel. Allow your knees to soften. Relax the shoulders down away from the ears and allow your arms to hang naturally by your side. Begin to create a rhythmic bounce, allowing energy to move down through your heels. Keep your knees soft and feet rooted on the ground. Allow the movement in your body to occur naturally, loosening the joints of the neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, fingers, hips, and knees. You may notice that your entire body begins to bounce. Breathe evenly as you focus on the movement and energy shifting in your body. After 3–5 minutes, allow your movement to slow and eventually stop. Stand in stillness and feel the Qi you have cultivated. Feel the effects of the practice – notice any pulsing, streaming and tingling sensations in the body.
QIGONG SWAYING: ENTER THE PRESENT AND STIMULATE DIGESTION
Continue standing in a relaxed and easy position. With your arms hanging heavy at your sides like empty coat sleeves, begin to twist from your center, moving to the left and then to the right. Soften your knees, keep your feet grounded on the floor, and let your hips sway with the movement. Focus on your breathing. After 3-5 minutes, let the movement slow and eventually come to a stop. Stand in stillness and notice any pulsing, streaming or tingling sensations moving through your body – feel the Qi you have cultivated.
PARTING THE SKY: FIND OPENING
Continue with a relaxed and easy standing posture. Bring your arms to a relaxed position in front of your hips, with your fingers pointing towards center. With an inhalation, begin to stretch your arms forward and up toward the sky in a sweeping circular motion. Watch your hands as they pass in front of your body and float up toward the sky. When the arms are extended above your head, begin to separate your hands floating your arms back down to your sides – as though you are parting the sky. Repeat this sequence for 3-5 minutes while focusing on your breath. Stand in stillness and feel the Qi you have cultivated.
PRACTICE THESE THREE SIMPLE MOVEMENTS FOR 10-15 MINUTES PER DAY TO BALANCE YOUR QI.
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Edited by Alison Baenen