For thousands of years, ancient cultures have understood the curative powers of movement and breathing. In the West, yoga and tai chi have captured the attention of the public and the media, especially with celebrities like Jennifer Aniston and Matthew McConaughey stretching for the camera.
But it’s the 5,000-year-old tradition of Qigong healing that’s quietly garnering headlines in the most prestigious medical journals around the world, in which clinical studies have hailed the benefits of Qigong for:
• Heart disease
• Digestive, kidney, and liver illnesses
• Asthma and other respiratory problems
• Chronic pain
• Migraine headaches
• Balance and stability
• Stress and sleep disorders
Health is Internal
Qigong (pronounced “chee gong”) healing is a blend of breathing techniques, physical postures, movement, mental visualizations, affirmations, and meditation that work together to bring forth profound healing.
A grandparent to tai chi, Qigong is believed by historians to have evolved out of Asia’s earliest known ceremonial and tribal dances. Today, the Chinese government recognizes more than 5,000 unique Qigong forms.
The art of Qigong healing exercises are a blend of qi, translated as “life force,” and gong, meaning “diligent exercise.” It’s based on the healthy integration of one’s “vital energy,” which is a synergy of physical forces; including cardiovascular activity…immune function..digestion…mental steadiness…and nerve acuity. Gentle and rhythmic breathing and movements promote the fortitude to fight diseases, fend off aging, and live a more stress-free life.
Recent studies of Qigong healing have demonstrated benefits in…
Cardiovascular health, circulation, and blood pressure:
Qigong shows outstanding potential against this country’s number one killer, heart disease. Studies show Qigong can measurably lower blood pressure and improve heart muscle strength.
Even motionless breathing exercises, known as Quiescent Qigong, have resulted in improved cardiovascular performance. A recently 5-year study from Harvard Medical School notes substantial cardiovascular benefits of Qigong, including for patients with the highest risk factors.
Arthritis, joint problems, and chronic spinal and neck pain:
A study by the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey concluded significant benefits for patients with osteoarthritis.
Writing in the journal Clinical Rheumatology, lead researcher, Dr. Adam Perlman noted, “Given the limitation and potential adverse effects of drug intervention of osteoarthritis, Qigong therapy might prove to be a valuable option as a supplement to conventional treatment.”
Experts agree that Qigong has been validated by scientific research as a viable way to control and reverse diabetes. In one recent study at Bastyr University in Seattle, investigators compared Qigong to progressive resistance therapy and placebo on 32 people with type 2 diabetes.
The Qigong group received instruction and supervision in the practice of Qigong in 30-minute sessions, twice a week for 12 weeks. The progressive resistance training the group used adhered to a similar schedule of resistance exercises.
A third group received no intervention (placebo). At the end of the study, the Qigong group showed significantly lower levels of fasting blood glucose, improved ability to use insulin (less insulin resistance) and reduced stress. They also lost weight.
Participants in progressive resistance training had only inconsistent and insignificant reductions in blood glucose. They were also more likely to gain weight. No significant changes were noted in the no-treatment group.
Qigong has been studied widely among cancer research centers, with remarkably positive results both for healing active cancer and preventing recurrence.
In an article on the body of research supporting Qigong’s cancer fighting potential published in the journal Integrative Cancer Therapies, the authors wrote, “Qigong therapy from TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) shows promise in treating cancer, and preliminary studies report immediate improvement without side effects, even recording complete remission in patients who engaged in ongoing practice of qigong…[Q]igong therapy focuses on the entire body and its health system.
Our review suggests that qigong therapy may actually stop and prevent cancer growth, and help patients recover from many different diseases at the same time.” In addition, the MD Anderson Cancer Center has reviewed 3 decades of research on Qigong as a cancer treatment, resulting in an extensive list of documented benefits.
A recent study by Mayo Clinic, published in the Journal of Chinese Medicine, noted that steady Qigong practice led to significant improvements among patients suffering from chronic pain. This is just one of dozens of similar studies recognized by the NIH’s Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine.
Getting Started — Learning to Breathe
Qigong exercises may sound complicated, but it’s actually quite easy to get started. Just 10 minutes a day will lead to noticeable health differences in just a few weeks.
Once you learn some basics, you can build your techniques over time. The simplest way to quickly master one of Qigong’s most effective tools is to practice steady, controlled breathing. The healing energy of Qigong healing is achieved and channeled through the breath.
On average, we draw about 17 breaths per minute. With Qigong, however, the goal is to bring that rate down to about 7 breaths per minute. That means taking deeper, longer, and more controlled breaths, mostly by using your lower abdomen muscles to draw air in, rather than the upper chest.
Overall, Qigong healing recognizes 6 aspects to breathing that you should be aware of as you practice:
• Keep it even: Inhales and exhales should be about the same duration.
• Go deep: Try to draw breath into your lower abdomen.
• Slow and steady: Concentrate on a slow pace; never hurry.
• Stay smooth: Go for an even rhythm.
• Breathe long: Inhales and exhales should be long. It takes practice, but you’ll feel the difference almost immediately.
• Make it natural: Don’t force your breath; comfort is key.
The beauty of Qigong healing exercises is that anyone can do it. As you become more comfortable with breathing practice, you can advance to movement and postures. You don’t have to execute a move perfectly, you just have to get moving.
There are numerous Qigong resources online, such as the Qigong Healing Institute, providing information, studies, and directories to Qigong centers worldwide. You may even find videos and classes through your local hospital or library. Even YouTube offers a wealth of practical instructional resources for Qigong healing.
Remember, Qigong has healed millions of people and has been shown to cure disease. Imagine no more chronic pain, no more heart condition, or a cancer-free life. The 10 minutes you spend today may improve your health for the rest of your life.