Many of you are familiar with our Rock Solid Health Qigong video series and the tremendous health and wellness benefits to be derived from practicing these foundational Qigong techniques. We’d like to take a moment to consider Qigong in a different light, as a specialized toolkit that can help you to achieve particular goals, both health and fitness related and in other areas of your life.
What is Qigong?
Qigong is a term that encompasses the Chinese arts of internal exercise and energy cultivation in all their diversity. Qigong is a collective project, having been developed, practiced and refined by Taoists, Buddhists, martial artists, healers, monks, generals and all orders of Chinese society. It stands between meditation on the one hand and the martial arts on the other and is not entirely separate from either.
The basis of Qigong is the absorption, circulation and refinement of natural energy through the coordinated use of mind, body and spirit for the cultivation of all aspects, faculties and powers of the human being.
Qigong is extremely specialized and diverse. It treats the physical body almost like an onion, strengthening it one layer at a time. Fascia, muscles and tendons and major organs all receive their due attention through specific techniques. The human energy system is likewise cultivated step by step. Qigong’s biggest flaw is that there is far too much for any one person to master.
Nevertheless, there is another level of specialization in Qigong that can be very helpful for your health and personal development goals. Qigong has branches designed not only to maintain good health, but to heal illnesses and chronic conditions in yourself and others, to improve physical performance, to absorb energy from the environment, and to apply qi energy to the development of the spirit (shen). It is here that you can really match your qigong to your personal resilience goals. Here’s a look at a specific set of techniques for dealing with one set of health challenges.
(Note: Please seek the advice of a qualified practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine before using specific medical Qigong techniques.)
The video below shows Master Mantak Chia demonstrating the Inner Smile technique, a seated method for promoting the health of each organ system one at a time. The key here is to be able to visualize the organs as you focus on them.
Medical Qigong: The Lungs
Much of the world’s population suffers from asthma and other chronic lung diseases. Qigong approaches lung health from several directions. First of all, the lungs are included in the Inner Smile meditation. There are also specific breathing exercises for strengthening the lungs, qi circulation exercises, and specific attention and massage exercises for asthma. Here are some basic exercises:
First Breathing Exercise: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, hands folded over your dantien (lower abdomen). Press gently as you exhale and draw your abdomen in, bending your upper body forward. Straighten and breathe in naturally. Repeat three times.
Second Breathing Exercise: From the same position, lean back as far as you comfortably can and extend your arms slightly back while inhaling, expanding your lungs and contracting your abdomen as much as possible. Hold your breath as long as you safely can. Then return to an upright position and exhale through the mouth.
Asthma Focus Exercise: Be still in a sitting, standing or prone position. Focus your attention on your zhichuan (“benefit asthma”) acupuncture points, located on either side of your spine on the narrowest line between your shoulder blades. Focus for 20-30 minutes.
There are many other related exercises and approaches to lung health in the Chinese tradition.
Qigong is a diverse and multifaceted tool for your personal resilience and personal development, waiting to be explored.