From the category archives:

qi gong

Turn Every Movement Into A Qi Gong Exercise

by Ed

Qi gong is a Chinese form of exercise that is really more than exercise. The therapeutic effects of qi gong go beyond what you would expect from the movements. Most forms of qi gong exercise involve a number of movements that move the joints through all or most of their range of motion, but it is the way that the movements are done that is really important. If you know the principles of qi gong, you can turn almost any movement into a qi gong exercise.

Qi Gong Principles

  1. Relaxation is always the first and most important principle. Before you even begin practicing qi gong exercise, you need to relax your entire body. As you continue practicing relaxation regularly, over the months and years, you will discover that, in the beginning, you really did not know what relaxation was. You can continue taking it to deeper and deeper levels.
  2. Breathing helps to facilitate relaxation as well as concentration. The breathe should be even and smooth. Breathe into the abdomen, rather than the chest, but never force it. Coordinate your movements with your breathing.
  3. Awareness. There is a saying use in qi gong, martial arts, and Chinese medicine: “Qi follows Yi.” It is often loosely translated as, “Where attention goes, energy flows.” The same principle is used by Tibetan and Indian yogis, as well as hypnotherapists, to heat the body, temporarily stop the heart, stop a wound from bleeding, and other so-called miraculous feats of bodily control. Allow your awareness to rest in the joints that are being moved, or through the limb that is being moved.
  4. Grounding. Feel the weight of your body as you stand and move. As you relax feel as if you are sinking into the ground.
  5. Coordinate the movements with your breathing. All movements should be slow and smooth. Feel as if the movement is coming from the center of your body or even from the earth. It can take a very long time to get that feeling, especially without a teacher, but it makes a big difference in the effects on your physiology.

You will notice that many of the principles affect each other. Eventually you will find that it is all one principle, and when you are doing that, you are doing qi gong. If you do range of motion exercises before your your workout, slow them down and do them as qi gong. As you slowly shuffle forward in a long line up, become aware of the principles and turn your shuffle into qi gong. There are many times throughout the day when you can focus on the principles and change the way you move, which will improve blood flow, open your joints and increase vitality.

How Qi Gong can help with Fibromyalgia and CFS

by Ed

Getting enough sleep and exercise is crucial to the wellbeing of those suffering with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. Qi gong can be very helpful in both areas. Qi gong is a Chinese form of therapeutic exercise and meditation. There are many different styles that have developed over the centuries.

According to Chinese Medicine, FM and CFS are due to a deficiency and a stagnation of the body’s vital energy. There may also be latent toxins (viruses, bacteria, etc.) in the body. Qi gong, which means energy work can increase our store of vital energy, improve it’s flow and strengthen the immune system, which can help expel the latent toxins.

The movements in most forms of qi gong are gentle and flowing like the movements of tai chi, making it easier for people with low energy reserves to do them. They provide the body with needed exercise while slowly building strength and stamina. Meditative forms of qi gong help to calm an agitated mind and body, improve sleep, and strengthen the immune system. Most practitioners also report an increased pain tolerance.

If you live near Berkeley California, check out Dr. Bingkun Hu. He is an excellent teacher of the Wild Goose style of Qi gong. Wild Goose includes both active and meditative qi gong forms. You might also want to check out Ken Cohen’s The Essential Qigong Training Course.

One of my favorite qi gong meditations is the inner smile meditation. If you would like to download a free mp3 of the inner smile meditation, mention it in your comment, below.

Pain in the Lower Rib Cage

by Ed

Many people get aches and pains or a feeling of fullness in the lower rib cage. Often they have no obvious organic cause and Western Medicine does not treat them. Even more often the symptoms are so vague that people don’t bother to tell their doctors about it.

Traditional Chinese Medicine recognises several conditions that could produce those symptoms. In fact they are often early warning signs which, if treated, can save a person from developing a more severe condition. If you have an intense pain that is localized on one side of the rib cage, you should see a doctor about it. If you have more vague pain on both sides of the rib cage, then try the tips at the end of this post or see your acupuncturist.

In Chinese Medicine, when we talk about the internal organs we are talking about more than the anatomical/ physiological organs as Western Medicine understands them. We are talking about their energetic functions along the entire course of the meridian they are associated with. Each organ is also associated with an emotion or complex of emotions, a body tissue, and a sense organ. The liver is associated with the lower rib cage. It is also associated with anger, frustration, stress, and suppression of emotions. It has to do with the free flowing quality in everything in our lives. Vague pain in the lower rib cage usually is a result of the liver energy becoming stagnant. This frequently leads to indigestion and gassiness as well.

I have three favorite ways of returning the liver to its natural free flowing state:

  • The Inner Smile I have described this one in an earlier post, here.

  • The Seven Shakes This is a good one to do in groups. If you are in a meeting or teaching a class and everyone is losing focus and looking sleepy get them up and do the seven shakes. Stand up and shake your right arm seven times, counting out loud. Then shake your left arm, right leg, and left leg seven times each. Then shake them 6 times, 5 times, etc., down to one time. Finish by jumping into a karate stance, or any stance you like and shout Ha!

  • Qi Gong: Liver Healing Sound Stand with your feet about shoulder width and parallel. As you inhale raise your hands into the air as if you were embracing th sky. Holding your breath, bring your arms down until the elbows are pressing your ribs cage and your palms are facing your face. Close your hands into fists and lean over as if you were skiing and exhale with the sound shhh. Repeat three to seven times.

Doing each of these exercises every day will certainly lower your stress and increase your energy. If your rib cage pain is due to simple liver energy congestion, it should relieve that as well. Have fun and keep moving.

Update: I am no longer accepting comments on this post. It is not reasonable for me to try to guess what your particular problem might be.

A Healthy Attitude

by Ed

Have you ever noticed that when you have a frustrating day you come home feeling wasted? Have you ever noticed that when you’re having fun or when you meet a dear old friend you haven’t seen a while, you have lots of energy, even if you didn’t sleep well the night before?

Our emotions have a powerful impact on our physical bodies. Studies have proven that not only do we have more energy when we are experiencing positive emotions, but our immune systems are being stimulated as well.We also produce more growth hormone, which can reverse the aging process.

So how do we keep the positive emotions and let go of the negative ones? Not by suppressing the negatives and pretending to be happy. Our bodies know the difference. People who suppress negative emotions raise their risk of cancer, ulcers and many other physical problems. The key is in our attitude towards life. When we practice gratitude and compassion on a regular basis, we learn to let go of the attachments that lead to anger, resentment, and fear. Anger and fear will come up in our lives, at appropriate times, but we let go of them right away.

If, several times a day, you express gratitude for everything in your life, you will soon notice how great your life really is, and the things that used to bother you don’t so much any more. And when you practice compassionate action, you begin to notice that people only do hurtful things when they themselves are hurting. So instead of reacting with anger or fear, you want to help them.

Until we have perfected the practices of gratitude and compassion, we need to learn ways to diffuse the unhealthy energy in our bodies that negative emotions bring. One of my favorite practices is a Chinese qi gong meditation called the Inner Smile. Here are instructions for a very simple version of it:

Get seated in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Take a few long, slow, deep breaths, pausing for a moment at the end of each inhale and exhale. After a few breaths, allow your breathing to return to its natural rhythm, and gently pay attention to it moving in and out.

Now imagine the face of someone you love smiling at you. Feel the warmth of their smile, and feel yourself reflecting that smile back to them. Now find a place in your body that needs some healing energy. As you inhale, feel like you are breathing into that area of your body, and follow the breath with your smile. As you inhale, feel the smile penetrating the area and as you exhale, allow all tension to melt away.

Be aware of yourself as the smiler and the one being smiled at. You can alternate if that is most comfortable for you. When you have finished, imagine that area in your body glowing with golden light. You can do this practice for two or three minutes several times a day.

As the songs says, “Don’t worry. Be happy.”