Friday, October 9, 2015

Qigong for Stress Reduction

Two things that have always helped stress and anxiety are exercise and relaxation.  So to find something that has a combination of both is quite a treat.  

Qigong is a form of Chinese mind/body exercise that traces back some 2500 years (although some records indicate much longer).  These exercises use breathing, meditation, movement, and sometimes visualization to improve the flow of “qi”.

Qi means “spirit, life energy, or breath”, and gong means “work, or working with”.  So Qigong means to work with the life energy, or to work with the breath, or spirit.

There are some classic Qigong forms like “The Eight Brocades” and “Healing Sounds”, but it’s believed that there are over 7000 different qigong exercises throughout the world.  Many have been handed down from one generation to the next and have roots that trace to the martial arts and spiritual practices of Taoism.

In his book, The Way of Qigong, Ken Cohen explains that there are different sub-areas of qigong study:  Medical Qigong, External Healing Qigong, Meditative or Spiritual Qigong and Martial Arts Qigong.  All are  simply called, Qigong.

Finding the area of Qigong that is best for you is not about fitting yourself into one of these categories, but simply finding where they fit into your needs and your intentions.  You can begin by reading a little bit about Qigong (such as the book mentioned above), or finding a local class and seeing if it resonates with your stress and anxiety reduction needs.

You can also find many videos online of various forms and practitioners.  Here is a wonderful demo of one of the many versions of the Five Animal Qigong Form, done by a practitioner of the Wudang school of study: 

Thanks to Edwin Lee for his great photo - The Opening Lotus