Is strenuous exercise necessary for health?
No. Good physical condition is required for competing athletes and does not insure good health. A trained athlete can have cancer and die from a heart attack. Arnold Schwarzenegger needs to have a heart valve replaced. Strenuous exercise produces toxins and free radicals, which can harm the body. Most people do not have enough time to train properly and so rapid movements can injure muscles and joints. Repetitive strain can lead to chronic injuries and disease. Slow, nonstrenuous Qigong can improve your health.
What is Qigong?
The main divisions of modern Qigong (Chi Kung) are: Spiritual, Medical, Martial and Athletic depending on the main goal of the practioner. However, there is an overlap between these branches.
Medical Qigong is a branch of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Qi can be translated as life energy. TCM postulates that health is the result of smooth Qi circulation, without accumulation or deficiency in any part of the body, while disease is the result of poor Qi circulation. Once the flow of Qi is balanced, the body tends to heal itself.
In Chinese “Gong” means work or hard task. Qigong is the task of learning to control the flow of Qi through your body by using breath, movement and meditation. Since you will be taught genuine Qigong, passed down from master to disciple, the only requirement for success is dedication and practice.
Since the defintion of Qi is controversial, a different definition of Qigong is used in scientific research. Qigong is a self-training technique or process that integrates the body posture, breathing, and mentality into oneness to achieve the optimal state for both body and mind.
Why study Qigong?
Some reasons for studying Qigong are: stress relief, relaxation, mental improvement, preventing and self-healing of diseases, spiritual enlightenment, harmony with nature and developing esoteric powers. It is the key to inner power, stamina and resistance to injury in Chinese Martial Arts. Chinese athletes use it to reach peak performance levels. Qigong can increase longevity and improve the quality of life as one ages.
Another reason is to become a Qigong therapist. Diseases can be treated in two ways. The therapist can prescribe Qigong exercise for a particular disease or he can inject his Qi to treat the disease. In Chinese Qigong hospitals both methods are used simultaneously. A therapist should learn several different Qigong methods in order to treat different diseases and to accommodate patients.
Can athletes, couch potatoes or handicapped people benefit from Qigong?
Yes. They are easy to learn requiring very little coordination. They are suitable for the young, old, strong, weak, and infirm, because they can be practiced standing, seated or lying. No equipment, special clothing or partners are required. There is no restriction on the place or time of their performance.
There are dynamic Qigong exercises that will satisfy the most robust people. Athletes can use Qigong not only to improve their peak performance, but also to speed recovery from strenuous training and ameliorate deleterious effects such as lactic acid build up, free radicals etc.
Individual programs can be constructed to aid recovery from illness or injury. It is has been shown that Qigong plus other forms of therapy (western or TCM) works better than Qigong or therapy alone.
Is Qigong scientific?
Conferences on the scientific study of Qigong have been held in the U.S. and China. Qigong has been shown to improve respiration, induce the relaxation response, cause favorable changes in blood chemistry, and produce changes in EEG indicating improved mental states. Qigong has been shown effective in helping treat about 200 diseases.
Clinical trials have shown the efficacy of Qigong in reducing stress, delaying aging effects, prolonging life, preventing illness and curing many chronic diseases including paralysis and cancer.
Does Qigong Have Anti-Aging Effects?
Yes. For example, one survey of aged practitioners revealed that they were in good health and appeared younger than a second group of non-practitioners. Their average blood pressure was normal and 93% had normal hearing and good memories. The non-practicing elders had a higher average blood pressure, 25% had hypertension, 50% had vision problems, 76% had hearing problems and 35% had lost their ability to work. After doing Qigong for 5 months, 52% of them recovered some of their working ability and made other physiological improvements.
When being treated by external Qi does the patient have to move or feel it to be cured?
No. Some people feel the effects of the Qi or move. Others do not feel anything and do not move. Both classes of people can benefit. Studies have shown that there is no correlation between the movements of the therapist and the patient.
Can a “Master” inject Qi and open all of your channels to give you powers or permanently improve your health?
Be suspicious of such a claim especially if the “Master” asks for a large sum of money. If you get a bowl of rice today you will feel good, but tomorrow you will feel hungry. The “gong” in Qigong stands for hard work. There is no royal road to learning. A standard recommendation is that you must practice 100 days in a row to obtain some benefit. If you miss one day you must start over, even if that day was the 99th.
How many forms of Qigong are there?
There are about 3000 different forms of Qigong. The different styles can be divided into three classes: medical, martial, and spiritual. These divisions overlap. However, to really become proficient in one branch you must specialize in that type of Qigong. For example, a spiritual practitioner can have developed tremendous amounts of Qi but can still be mediocre in applications to the martial arts.
Is Tai Chi a form of Qigong?
Yes. In the beginning Tai Chi seems to be a physical exercise. Later, with proper instruction, you will realize it is a form of Qigong. Each posture affects certain organs and can be used to heal diseases. After a long time you can feel the effects of your Qi during movements. There are also martial applications of Qi, since Tai Chi is a martial as well as as a healing art. Tai Chi is a very difficult form of Qigong to learn.
Will a Qigong class associated with a hospital or clinic help with serious illnesses?
Classes offered a few times a week in which everyone is practicing the same exercises are not helpful for serious illneses. A Chinese medical diagnosis must be done and the results used to construct an individualized form of Qigong. For serious diseases, hours of daily Qigong practice are required.