Written by Maria T. Carranza
What is it and what is the practitioner’s roll?
Medical QiGong is an ancient form of Chinese energetic medicine, and it is one of the four main branches of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM); along with acupuncture, herbal bi-products and instructed exercises (passive and active ones). As with other branches of Traditional Medical QiGong, healing occurs through balancing “The Qi” or electromagnetic energy, which surrounds and pervades all living creatures.
The goal of the Medical QiGong practitioner is to correct these bio-energetic imbalances and blockages. This enables the body to strengthen and regulate the internal organs and nervous system. It relieves pain, regulates and strengthens hormones and releases deep seated emotions and/or stress. “Qi” can be interpreted as “Life Force”. When ill, “The Qi” energy in a person flows excessively or weakly through the body (compared to when in good health).
Qigong is the practice of cultivating and managing this life force energy in the body. When Qi is properly cultivated or managed in the body, a person remains in good mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health. As previously mentioned, the goal of Qigong is to initially correct bio-energetic imbalances and blockages in the body. Then to gather up, cultivate and circulate energies to reach and power up to a superior level of health.
Medical Qigong therapy consists of treatment by a practitioner to regulate and tonify the patient’s Qi. In the first consult the client will receive external Qigong or Qi Emission. This is where the practitioner directs or emits “Qi” to others to release toxic emotions from within the body’s tissues, eliminate energetic stagnations, as well as tonify, and regulate the internal organs, immune system and energetic fields. The practitioner may touch areas on the person’s body or simply pass their hands over the body. When patients are ill and their own level of “Qi” is very low or stagnant, receiving “Qi” from a QiGong practitioner induces very powerful, stimulating recovery. Note: During the treatment the client remains fully clothed and relaxed on a massage table; many people report that they feel very calm and relaxed, with a sense of pleasant vitality
Qigong is also used for non-medical purposes like… Fighting imbalance and pursuing enlightenment. Anyone of any age or physical condition can do Qigong!
The Powerful Effects of Qigong combines 1) Meditative and 2) Physically active elements
And it is the basic exercise system within the Chinese Medical System. Qigong exercises are designed to help us: Preserve our Jing = Our Essence, by Strengthening and Balancing the flow of Qi, Our Energy – Vital Energy which enlightens our Shen = Our Spirit. Qigong dynamic exercises and meditations have Yin and Yang aspects: The Yin is BEing it; the Yang is DOing it. Yin Qigong exercises are expressed through relaxed stretching, visualization, and breathing. Yang Qigong exercises are expressed in a more aerobic or dynamic way. They are particularly effective for supporting the immune system. In China, Qigong is used extensively for people with cancer. Qigong’s physical and spiritual routines move Qi energy through the Twelve Primary Channels, also called “Meridians” – Six of which are Yin and Six which are Yang; plus a few minor ones that form a network that help balance, smooth the flow, and strengthen this great energy. Chinese medicine uses Qigong exercises to maintain health, prevent illness, and extend longevity because it is a powerful tool for maintaining and restoring harmony to the Organ Systems, Essential Substances, and Channels.
Qigong exercises help maintain health by creating a state of mental and physical calmness.
Some of us are born with one type of constitution; some with another. We each have inherited imbalances that we cannot control, but with which we must work at balancing. That is why, for some people, it is easier to achieve balance and strength than it is for others. But whatever your nature, Qigong can help you become the most balanced you can be! Qigong exercises help maintain health by creating a state of mental and physical calmness, which indicates that the Qi energy is balanced and harmonious. This allows the mind/body/spirit to function most efficiently, with the least amount of stress.
When you start practicing Qigong exercises, the primary goal is: “To concentrate on letting go.” That’s because most imbalance comes from holding on to too much for too long. Most of us are familiar with the physical strength of muscles, and when we think about exercising, we think in terms of tensing muscles. Qi energy is different. Qi strength is revealed by a smooth, calm, concentrated effort that is free of stress.
Yes, Qi-gong can also helps us manage illnesses through the process of focusing in, and letting go; both at the same time.
It’s harder to remedy an illness than to prevent it; and Qigong has powerful preventive effects. However, when disharmony becomes apparent, Qigong exercises can also play a crucial role in restoring harmony. Qigong movement and postures are shaped by the principle of Yin/Yang: the complementary interrelationship of qualities such as fast and slow, hard and soft, excess or deficiency, and external and internal. Qigong exercises use these contrasting and complementary qualities to restore harmony to the essential substances, organ systems, and channels.
The Fundamental Techniques:
Leads to and results from “Qi” energy awareness, breathing techniques, and Qigong exercises. It is a process of focusing in and letting go at the same time. Focusing does not mean that you wrinkle up your forehead and strain to pay attention.
Instead, through deep relaxation and expanding your consciousness, you are able to create a frame of mind that is large enough to encompass your entire mind – body – spirit’s functions; yet focused enough to allow outside distractions, worries, and everyday hassles to drift away.
In the sixth century BCE, Lao Tzu first described breathing techniques as a way to stimulate “Qi” energy. From there, two types of Qigong breathing exercises evolved: Buddha’s Breath and Daoist’s Breath. Both methods infuse the body with “Qi” and help focus meditation.
A. Buddha’s Breath: When you inhale, extend your abdomen, filling it with air. When you exhale, contract your abdomen, expelling the air from the bottom of your lungs first and then pushing it up and out until your abdomen and chest are deflated. You may want to practice inhaling for a slow count of eight and exhaling for a count of sixteen. As you breathe in and out, imagine inviting your Qi energy to flow through the Channels. Use your mind to invite the Qi to flow; you want to guide the flow, not tug at it or push it.
B. Daoist’s Breath: The pattern is the opposite of above. When you breathe in, you contract your abdominal muscles. When you exhale, you relax the torso and lungs. As you travel through these steps, remember that Qigong is a process of building awareness. However you are comfortable doing the routines is what’s right for you at that time.
This article on Qigong exercises and Qi energy is based on Maria’s experiences coupled with excerpts (with permission) from The New Chinese Medicine Handbook: An Innovative Guide to Integrating Eastern Wisdom with Western Practice for Modern Healing, by Misha Ruth Cohen, published by Fair Winds Press.
Breathing exercises stimulate Qi energy flow.