Health Benefits of Qigong, Plus What Qigong Is

Bozz District

Feeling overwhelmed or anxious? You may be looking for an outlet to help you stay centered, and luckily, there are a lot of options out there. From seeking out professional help to yoga, meditation or breathing exercises, there are many forms of exercise and mindfulness that are excellent tools to […]

Feeling overwhelmed or anxious? You may be looking for an outlet to help you stay centered, and luckily, there are a lot of options out there. From seeking out professional help to yoga, meditation or breathing exercises, there are many forms of exercise and mindfulness that are excellent tools to help keep you physically, mentally, and emotionally well.

But you may also want to try qigong. If you’ve never hear of qigong before, or have some vague idea of what it is, we can assure you that it’s an exercise worth trying—and that it’s packed with health benefits. Here’s everything you need to know.

What is qigong?

“Qigong is a moving meditative art, a system of coordinated body-posture and movement, breathing, and meditation used for the purposes of health, spirituality, and martial-arts training,” explains Giselle Wasfie, LAc., Dipl. OM, MSTOM, DACM, a Chinese medicine practitioner certified in qigong, and founder of REMIX Lifestyle

With roots in traditional Chinese medicine, qigong is a way to cultivate and balance qi (“life force energy”). “Qigong practice typically involves moving meditation, coordinating slow-flowing movement, deep rhythmic breathing, and a calm meditative state of mind,” adds Wasfie.

What’s the difference between tai chi and qigong?

You’ve likely heard of tai chi, and might be thinking it sounds similar to qigong. And if you are thinking that, you’re right: Both tai chi and qigong are ancient Chinese traditions that relieve stress and increase energy through a moving meditation. That being said, there are a few key differences.

“Both focus on breathing and circulating energy through the body and calming the mind, but qigong also incorporates particular techniques for a particular situation you may want to focus on such as clearing out lung congestion or getting your heart rate to slow down,” notes Wasfie.

Qigong goes deeper than just breathing. “Qigong has particular movements for each organ system and even sounds that go with it, and sometimes you are just sitting on a chair, breathing deeply and ‘sending energy’ to different organs in the body or practicing ‘smiling to your organs’ (called ‘The Inner Smile’ of qigong),” says Wasfie.

Adds Mike Taylor, qigong instructor and co-founder of Strala Yoga, “Qigong shares the same foundations as tai chi, but offers a very simple advantage. While many familiar tai chi practices can take years to learn, qigong forms are much easier to begin.”

Related: Meditation in Movement: Tai Chi Chuan and Chi Gung 

The health benefits of qigong

The benefits of qigong are similar to meditation, with the added benefit of working on a physical level to focus on particular issues you may be experiencing in the body,” says Wasfie. 

Plus, qigong can be practiced any time, anywhere.

“It doesn’t take special equipment or lots of free time to practice.  If you have 30 seconds or three minutes between meetings, in your car, or standing in line at the grocery store, you have time for a world of benefits from qigong,” says Taylor.

Related: How To Breathe Properly When Meditating

Here are 6 science-backed health benefits that you can gain from qigong.

Health benefits of qigong

Increases balance

“Qigong focuses on controlled, slow movements of the body to improve your proprioception, aka awareness of your body in space, and that helps to increase balance, muscular strength, and flexibility, therefore enhancing the powerful mind-body connection,” says Wasfie.

May lower blood pressure 

If you have hypertension (high blood pressure), you may benefit from practicing qigong. One study found that after 10 weeks of practicing qigong, participants reported significantly decreased systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure.

Lowers stress and anxiety 

“Qigong involves meditation, controlled breathing, and gentle movements, all of which have been shown to help lower stress and symptoms of anxiety, reducing heart rate and calming the mind,” says Wasfie.

Related: 4 Ways To Let Go Of Stress Right Now

Improves quality of life in cancer survivors

One review of multiple studies on qigong in cancer survivors found that those who practiced qigong (between 3-12 weeks) reported significant improvements in fatigue, sleep difficulty, depression, and overall quality of life.

Improves focus

“When the body feels clear, the mind follows. Through a simple five-minute qigong routine, you can focus on clearing out the body on a whole, and the mind benefits from the connection, and as well, feels clearer,” says Wasfie.

Lowers risk of chronic disease

“As a gentle form of exercise, qigong emphasizes calm and meditative breathing. Together, this may reduce stress on the body, increase blood flow, and improve your overall fitness—all of which can lower your risk of chronic disease,” says Wasfie.

Next up, here are 92 ways to stress less this week. 

Sources

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