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What Is Qigong?
Before we proceed to the list of qigong exercises, let’s define the term. Let’s also answer the qigong vs tai chi difference.
Both qigong and tai chi are ancient Chinese kinds of exercises. They date back more than 1,500 years ago.
They can also be forms of martial arts, although they are not for combat. Most of all, they deal with an essential life component: chi (or qi).
Chi is life’s energy force. It’s the invisible “liquid” or “river” that runs throughout the body, providing it vitality.
When the body is sick, people believe there’s an imbalance in the chi or something is blocking it. One of the primary purposes of tai chi and qigong is to encourage its correct flow.
They have subtle differences, however. Tai chi, for example, is denser than qigong.
The latter also has dozens of forms of styles:
- Qigong meditation
- Medical qigong or healing qigong, which involves a qigong master transferring energy to the patient
- Sitting qigong
- Qigong yoga
- Qigong massage
In fact, for many, tai chi is a kind of qigong training. Regardless of their differences or similarities, one thing is clear: they have many health benefits.
3 Health Benefits of Qigong Exercises
Doing qigong exercises may help improve your health in the following ways:
1. Enhanced Immune System
If you’ve been more sickly than before, perhaps what you need is some gentle exercise. A 2003 research showed that even a session of qigong training can already boost your immune system.
To be specific, it can increase monocytes and lymphocytes. These are types of white blood cells.
Monocytes help fight against cancer cells and certain kinds of infections. Lymphocytes come from the bone marrow and have a variety of functions:
- Kill cancer cells and antigens
- Suppress the immune system to avoid an autoimmune disease
- Support other white blood cells
What is an autoimmune disease? It is a medical condition that occurs when the immune system goes into overdrive. It considers the healthy organ or tissue as a threat and attacks it.
2. Decreased Anxiety and Depression
Qigong exercise may also decrease the symptoms of anxiety and depression, especially among those who are chronically ill. This is the finding of a 2013 meta-analysis in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
A possible reason is how it works with deep breathing and meditation. In fact, in qigong, every action is according to your breath.
A 2017 study revealed this type of breathing, sometimes called diaphragmatic breathing, can affect cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress hormone that can increase heart rate and blood pressure.
3. Pain Relief
Meanwhile, they help exercise the joints to avoid wasting. This explains why they may be possible adjunct treatments for physical therapy.
Qigong Exercises to Reduce Stress and Enhance Your Health and Well-Being
These qigong exercises are perfect for beginners, but they don’t represent all styles. When you want to improve your form or posture, you can always take qigong classes online and offline.
Still, they’re great exercises for those learning qigong for beginners:
1. Breathing Awareness
Breathing matters in qigong exercises. You have two options here: Buddha or Daoist.
- In Daoist’s breath, you take as much air as you can while contracting your ab muscles. When you exhale, you relax the lungs and the upper body.
- In Buddha’s breath, you fill your abdomen with air, extending it, when inhaling. When you exhale, contract your ab muscles.
While doing your breathing exercise, perform the following:
- Stand straight with feet apart. Relax your knees and the rest of your body but tuck your chin.
- Open your palms to the side. As you breathe in, raise your palms and turn them over.
- Bring them down and sink your knees.
- Do these three times.
2. Willow Tree Qigong
This will serve as your warm-up, and you can do this for at least five minutes. It’s a simple swaying movement through your waist.
- Assume the starting position of the Daoist breathing exercise.
- Bend your knees and place your arms on the side.
- Using your waist, twist from left to right. Soften your arms and allow them to move freely as you twist.
- While you’re doing that, clear your mind from negative thoughts and invite peace and calm into your life.
- Take deep breaths in between twists.
3. Opening the Energy Gates
This is one of the qigong exercises that may benefit people with respiratory problems. These can include asthma and environmental allergies.
- Assume starting position of Daoist breathing and willow tree qigong.
- Bring your palms at the center, facing each other. Raise them toward your chest level.
- Take a deep breath in slowly as you move your arms toward the side.
- As you breathe out, bring your palms together again while you bend your knees slightly.
4. Shake or Bounce
If you’re suffering from trauma, you may be feeling anger, depression, anxiety, and stress. You can use one of the qigong exercises called shaking or bounce to help reduce these negative emotions.
- Assume the same starting position as the above exercises.
- Bring your heels up and take a deep breath. While you’re doing that, imagine all the “clutter” in your life you want to get rid of.
- Drop your heels hard to the ground and exhale. While you’re doing that, visualize you’re letting go of all these pent-up emotions.
- Start shaking by loosening your knees and moving your body up and down. Allow your hands and arms to move freely.
- Don’t forget to take deep breaths in between.
5. Ride the Horse and Draw the Bow
This is one of the trickiest qigong exercises for beginners since it involves many movements. You can never progress, though, unless you learn something intricate, right?
This one will help move more joints and increase your blood flow. By the end of this exercise alone, you should be more energetic or revitalized.
- Assume the same starting position as the exercises above.
- Step to the right in a wide stance. Bring both your arms around until they reach the top of your head. Inhale as you do so.
- Once they’re on top, close your palms into fists. Bring them to your right side as if you’re ready for a punch and exhale.
- Pull your left arm back until your arms appear as if it’s about to fire an arrow. Inhale.
- Drop down the arms and exhale.
- Repeat the process on the other side.
Qigong exercises make an excellent complement to your healthy lifestyle such as drinking Alkalizing Greens. Both are even fantastic morning starters.
They can awaken your body and mind, improve your focus, and lower your stress. This way, you’re more ready to deal with the challenges of the day.
What are your favorite qigong exercises? Share your techniques in the comments section below.