The first time I experienced qigong was in a “yo-qi” class, which was a mixture of yoga and qigong. As I swam my hands through the space in front of me, in rhythm with my breath, my body and mind dropped into a state of blissful balance. I remember thinking, “What’s this?” and then “I want more of this.” I didn’t know anything about qigong, meaning energy work, but I immediately knew how it made me feel and so my quest to learn more began.
After finding a qigong teacher, beginning a daily practice, and eventually getting certified to teach, I learned more about qigong. But even with everything I’ve learned it’s still about how it makes me feel- Soooo good. The Chinese have known this for centuries. In China, qigong is considered a form of preventative health and holistic healing. It places your body in a harmonious state of homeostasis by combining what is known as the three treasures of qigong. Let me introduce you to these.
The first treasure is the long, slow, deep, relaxed diaphragmatic breaths.
Deep breaths pump the lymphatic system increasing immunity. A relaxed exhale removes cellular waste, slows the heart rate, and widens the blood vessels for better blood flow. Each inhale (through the nose) circulates nutrient-rich oxygen throughout the body and improves organ efficiency. Super-oxygenating the body through intentional deep breathing supplies the body with more of the fuel it needs to repair and maintain health. Think LSD breathing- long, slow, deep.
2. Gentle Movements
When deep breathing is combined with slow, synchronized movement, the body builds more energy or Qi, rather than depleting energy, which happens with strenuous exercise. When the body moves with the breath, a sensation of calm and harmony brings the body and mind into balance and contributes to physical and mental healing. (Your qi or energy consists of your breath and the food you eat.)
3. Present Awareness
Slowing the breath and the body, slows the mind. Being present in your body or with a relaxed soft gaze, especially in a natural environment, reduces stress and uplifts your mood. Doing qigong can shift your brain waves to an alpha or even theta state. If you have trouble maintaining present awareness, slow down your breath and body movements even more.
I hope you will experience qigong for yourself. Your body has the capacity to heal itself and qigong turns on the natural inner medicine to keep your body and mind in peak performance. Qigong also connects you with Spirit as it is a form of mediation in motion. You can try this beautiful practice for free at the West Reading Farmers Market on first and third Sundays (weather permitting) from now until the end of September. You can also register for an Introduction to Qigong class held Friday mornings at The Nest collaborative. Experience the bliss and benefits of Qigong.