Are you looking for a gentle exercise to give you energy and help lower your stress at the same time? Have you been searching for an ancient practice to work on your longevity and vitality? Or are you simply wondering why you should start qigong? Well keep on reading to discover the many qigong health benefits that you can get from doing this practice!
What is qi gong?
So what does qigong mean? We can find in qigong 2 words. First, the word qi, which is pronounced “chee”, is, to make it simple, your vital force, your energy. And according to Master Shou-Yu and Wen-Ching Wu, for the word gong “The term gong refers to the power to produce an effect, an attainment of, or an accomplishment that is achieved with steady practice. Loosely, qi gong can be translated as the attainment of qi.” (reference at the bottom of the page).
Qigong is a series of movements or still postures that permit you to cultivate your qi and help to move your qi more fluidly throughout your body! We naturally lose energy throughout the day. But by doing a daily practice to replenish your qi, you won’t be sick as often, you will feel less tired, you will be more focused and more energetic!
Qi gong health benefits
Qigong has many benefits for the mind, body, spirit and qi. So, let’s discover 16 amazing qigong health benefits!
- Relieves stress, anxiety and improves relaxation
- Balances your emotions
- Boosts the immune system
- Enhances balance with older adults and in young adults
- Improves bone health
- Improves the cardiovascular system
- Lowers inflammation
- Increases flexibility
- Reduces chronic fatigue
- Circulates your qi/vital energy through your body
- Increases longevity
- Improves type 2 diabetes
- Relaxes and relieves the body’s joints
- Articular stimulation
- Increases vitality
- Improves eyesight (this is not the case with all qigong practices, but there was one particular qigong exercise that we did every morning that helped with this)
My energetic experience with qigong
While training at the Five Immortals temple, in China, during a qigong practice, something amazing happened. I had stopped being able to feel my qi for a long time, since I had trouble with an autoimmune disease. When we were practicing the last posture of our qigong routine, zhan zhuang, at first, I thought that my fingers were touching. I could feel pressure against them. But that couldn’t be right, it would make sense that the middle fingers could touch but not the ones on the sides. Instantly, I opened my eyes, I was so shocked and excited! My fingers weren’t touching at all, I was feeling my qi again!
Click here to learn how to do zhan zhuang!
When should I practice qigong?
Ideally, it’s best to do qigong before 10 am. You can try to get up 15 minutes earlier to do your practice. But don’t let that stop you, if you are too busy in the morning, no worries, you can do it later. I just wouldn’t recommend doing it right before bed, because it activates your energy, so it might be difficult to sleep afterwards.
Qigong morning routine!
At the temple, we trained qigong veryyyy early! To warm-up our bodies, before sunrise, the other students would run up to the top of the mountain while I was walking quickly and hyperventilating the whole way up… But then, for the next 35 to 45 minutes, we would practice qigong while the sun rose. We would look out at the mountains and trees, watching the sky changing colors, listening to the birds singing and feeling the fresh breeze on our faces. At first, I had to get past certain mental barriers about morning training (not a morning person!), but this would become the most magical moment of my day while I was there.
To read more about what I learned by training in this temple, check out my article on what a Taoist taught me about life!
Who can practice qigong?
Everyone! In qigong, the moves are gentle on the body and you can always modify them. So even if you’re at an advanced age or if you have a physical impairment from an injury, handicap or other, you can adapt the moves to your body and health. For example, if you can’t stand up, you can do the qigong exercises while sitting on a chair. In any case, a regular practice of qi gong, even modified, will be very beneficial for you!
If you need a modified version of the exercises, it would be helpful to ask an experienced qigong teacher. They will be able to find the right adaption of the moves specifically for you, so that you can enjoy the many qigong health benefits!
What if I don’t like slow exercises?
There are different styles of qigong. There is longevity qigong, healing qigong and gong fu qi gong. There are some where you move a lot or others where you are completely still. If you’re looking for a more active style, you might want to look into martial qigong.
For example, I have learned 2 very different qi gong forms that are both very beneficial and complementary for me. The wudang longevity qigong where you do slow and gentle movements, ends with a standing meditation posture where you don’t move at all. And I have also learned the dynamic five animals qi gong where you move a lot and can be quite intense.
Try different forms from different schools to see which style works best for you.
Since with qigong, we work on the energy flow, at some point, you might start feeling the qi. It might take a long time. Or maybe you will feel it some days and not others. No matter your experience, it’s not important if you feel your qi or not, but you will want to put your intention on circulating it through your body.
What does qi feel like?
Qi can have different sensations depending on the person. Maybe you might feel one or several of the ones below or something completely different. Sometimes, it can be a sensation during a time and then it can change later. Also, you might have a feeling only in your hands or it can be in the whole body.
Here are some examples of what qi can feel like. You might feel a change in temperature, for me it’s usually a warm feeling. You can start having a pins and needles feeling, a vibration or a tingling sensation. Maybe you will feel a resistance or see something between your hands.
If you want to accumulate and replenish your qi, you can try this powerful meditation I learned at the temple!
When not to practice qigong?
I was told by my shifu (teacher) in China that women shouldn’t practice qigong during their menstrual period. The way I understood it from when my shifu explained it, it’s that during this time of the month, we are getting rid of the old energy so if we store new energy at the same time in the lower dantien (is where we store our energy, it’s about 3 fingers below the belly button), it isn’t good for us.
Also, be careful if you’re pregnant. You will either need modifications or might not be able to do the practice at all. It’s better to check with your qigong instructor.
If you have pain in qigong, it can be that you’re not doing the movements correctly or it can also be a result of an old injury. I remember that my first day of practice was really uncomfortable because of the pain of when I had hurt my back several years ago.
Qigong side effects
It’s possible to have certain side effects during a strong qigong session, especially in the beginning. You might experience: dizziness, loss of balance, feeling a strong fatigue after your practice or a feeling of burning from the inside.
These sensations are normal, but you will need to adapt your exercises for a period of time. This is also why it’s useful to be guided when you start out with qigong. A teacher can help to modify the practice for you if it is necessary.
Start practicing to enjoy all the qigong health benefits!
There are many different forms of qigong, so try a few to see which one you would like to put in your routine.
You could start with 10 minutes right when you get up to start your day full of energy and to balance your emotions before a day of hard work!
No matter if you want more flexibility or to boost your immune system, it is worth the regular practice to get all these amazing qigong health benefits! You don’t even have to do long sessions to see the effects, you just need to be consistent.
Have you already tried qigong? What are the health benefits that you have experienced?
Book: Qigong Empowerment, by Master Shou-Yu Liang & Wen-Ching Wu, p.17