Qigong exercises refers to a broad range of self-cultivation practices that have originated from centuries old Chinese traditions involving coordinated body postures and movements, breathing control and meditation aimed at improving one’s health or to attain spirituality or in practising martial arts.
Qi (pronounced Chi) refers to the energy circulating within the body. Qi involves the relationship between matter (body), energy (breath) and spirit (mind).
Gong (pronounced Kung) on the other hand refers to putting effort including practising, improving and obtaining mastery of skills and accomplishment of results through lots of effort.
Hence together they describe a system of cultivating and balancing the energy present in one’s life.
In this piece of information we are going to learn ten different qigong exercises that actually work best for the healing mechanism of our body.
Let’s get right into it…
In its history of over 4000 years, a wide variety of Qigong forms have grown in different segments of the Chinese society such as in traditional Chinese medicine for prevention of diseases and improvement of health, in Confucianism for promoting longevity and improving morality, in Buddhism for meditation and in Chinese martial arts for improvement of fighting capabilities.
Classifications of Qigong
Qigong is fundamentally classified into;
- Dynamic qigong involving slow flowing movements of the body
- Passive qigong involving staying stationary for long periods of time
- Internal or qigong meditation involves controlling one’s inner movement of the breath
- Through usage of external agents such as medicinal herbs, massage etc.
75 forms of exercises can be found in ancient Chinese literature and these are by no means exhaustive.
The Qigong forms that are officially recognised by the Chinese Health Qigong Association are;
- Tai Chi Yang Sheng Zhang
- Muscle Tendon Change Classic (Yì Jīn Jīng)
- Shi Er Duan Jin
- Five Animals (Wu Qin Xi)
- Eight Pieces of Brocade (Ba Duan Jin)
- Six Healing Sounds (Liu Zi Jue)
- Daoyin Yang Sheng Gong Shi Er Fa
- Da Wu
- Mawangdui Daoyin
Don’t let these names intimidate you.
Aspects of Qigong exercise
Essentially every dynamic Qigong exercise has two aspects:
- The Yin
- The Yang
The Yin exercises (more of qigong breathing exercises) incorporate relaxed stretching of the body, visualization, and controlled breathing. The Yang exercises are more aerobic in nature and boost the body’s immune system.
Qigong Exercises for Beginners
Qigong can be practised by anyone of any physical condition and age and can be practised throughout their lifetime. The Qigong routines are usually gentle and even the dynamic exercises which use forcefulness to explode the Qi energy are so.
Following are a list of 10 basic Qigong exercises for beginners that can be easily practised by anyone.
- Move both arms from your waist up to the shoulders in a gentle swinging motion for five minutes while twisting the waist.
- The move your arms from one side across to the other side and back.
- By keeping the knees slightly bent, sway your hips while allowing the mind to clear.
Initially you can focus on releasing your stress. Gradually with practise, the focus will shift to only about the swaying of arms and the motion of Qi. This will introduce you to being mindful of its presence.
- With the feet parallel and at shoulder’s length jump with your knees loose and your arms dangling by your sides. Your arms should feel empty and you should get a nice jingling feeling.
- Keep your shoulders natural; neither holds them stiff nor too loose. When this is continued, you should feel deeply relaxed.
This would bring awareness of internal tensions within you and would encourage you to get rid of them.
- Close your eyes slightly and concentrate on your palms while breathing slowly.
- Bring your palms together with fingers pointing upward in such a way so as the centre of the palms are touching each other.
- Slowly move your hands like playing an accordion using the least amount of physical effort.
As you repeat the movement like playing of an accordion, you will feel a sensation at the centre of your palms. This is because this exercise sensitizes you to the presence of Qi.
- Point the index finger of your major hand at the flat of the palm of the other hand.
- Move the index finger like a paintbrush all along the palm and try to feel a sensation on your palm.
- Inhale vigorously through the nostrils with eyes half closed.
- As you do this, feel the Qi emanating from the body.
- Meditate about the Qi leaving your body and spreading all around you.
- While you feel the Qi outside, also continue being in control of it. Slowly allow the Qi to contract inwards & again expand. Repeat this process for some time.
This will bring you in control of your Qi and at the same time extend your area of mental comfort.
- Push your hands toward the ground and gently slump the body forward. Feel the Qi lowering at first. Then straighten the body upwards with the hands moving away from the ground and till they are horizontal. Feel the Qi lifting. Repeat this opposite positions till you are comfortable.
- Together with the above now start taking one step forward at a time. When the Qi is lifting, lift the leg and stretch ahead. After the feet touches the ground now lower the Qi by slumping the body forward.
This exercise will teach you to move the Qi in opposing directions simultaneously.
- Stand with your feet slightly apart and your hands hanging by your sides.
- Move the weight of the body on the ball of the feet and hold the position. Try to feel the Qi channels towards the front of your body, at the front of the legs, the front of the torso, the front of the face & head.
- Gently shift the weight on to the heel of the feet and now feel the Qi channels towards the back of the body. Hold this position for some time.
You will be surprised to detect two different Qi energies within your body through this exercise and you will slowly feel Qi has many dimensions that blend together to become one.
- Sit cross legged on the floor.
- While inhaling, extend your belly forward and while exhaling, contract the abdomen.
- At the time of inhaling, concentrate on lowering the Qi from the front of the nose to the bottom of the navel.
- While exhaling, move the Qi further down to the tailbone.
- Next while inhaling, move the Qi up to the shoulders.
- In the exhalation, move it to the top of the head and back to the nose.
Practise the above in opposite direction on alternate days.
- Keep the feet together.
- Go to a prayerful pose and bow ahead.
- Extend the legs sideways shoulder length apart.
- Lift the hands sideways palms facing upwards and inhale.
- Once the hands reach shoulder height, move them downwards through the centre of the body in a continuous arc while exhaling and sinking your knees slightly.
- Let the arms slowly rise to shoulder height ahead of the body.
- Exhale and let them drop down while bending the knee slightly.
- Inhale and repeat this while straightening the knee and lifting the body slightly.
You will feel like painting with two brushes up and down a wall. This will relax the nerves and thus is a great exercise to decrease the blood pressure.
There are numerous qigong benefits when practised regularly. Qigong exercises create a state of calmness that allows the mind, body and spirit to function most efficiently with minimum stress. This helps in prevention of illness resulting into increased longevity through qigong healing.