Qi Gong: Ancient Healing for Modern Joint Pain

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[caption id="attachment_180" align="alignright" width="300"]Start your day with Qi Gong for energy. Start your day with Qi Gong for energy.[/caption] If you’ve ever travelled to an Asian country, you may have marveled at the early morning exercisers in the park. Watching the slow, graceful movements, you may have wondered, “What health benefits could this possibly have?” The exercise is called Qi gong, and this ancient healing technique from China is now gaining popularity in the west. New research shows that by helping the body heal itself, this traditional exercise improves joint pain and stiffness, and may even reverse the effects of some age-related diseases such as arthritis. Afton Hassett, PsyD, cites a study that showed that, “Women with severe fibromyalgia reported 73% less pain after just 5-7 sessions with a Qi gong master. A  Chinese study showed that 83% of rheumatoid arthritis patients who practiced Qi gong for 1-2 hours a day reported greater improvement compared with 57% who received medication. Could this ancient exercise help you?

Qi Gong: Ancient Healing for Modern Joint Pain

What is Qi gong? Qi gong (pronounced Chee gung or Chee kung) is a 5000-year-old Chinese form of mind/body practice. Qi means life force, energy, or breath. Gong means skill or discipline. So the term Qi gong means energy work or breathing exercise. To the ancient masters, energy means life force, that vitality we are all looking for. Think about what happens when the power lines go down. We can’t cook our food, watch TV, or use the computer. We literally lose all our energy, and can’t function the way we want to. Qi gong is based on the premise that our bodies are energy systems. As long as we have energy, or qi, we are alive. How does Qi gong work?Outdoor Tai Chi Qi gong is often compared to an iceberg. The slow, gentle movements you see are just the tip of the iceberg. There is a much deeper, internal power that lies below the surface. Qi gong uses postures and exercises to concentrate the release and flow of energy in the body. The slow, circular movements may be combined with regulated breathing, meditation, self-massage and guided imagery to stimulate the flow of energy, or chi. The idea is that by directing the body’s energy, you can remove blockages believed to lead to disease and dysfunction, and help your body achieve a natural state of balance and health. What are the benefits of qi gong? Qi gong is the longest continually used health practice on the planet, so it has been proven over time. New scientific studies support the long-time evidence. Qi gong has many different practices and movements.  But while the techniques and exercises may vary, the goals are the same: to maintain health, promote healing and balance, and increase vitality. Some benefits of practicing Qi gong include:
  • Practice it anywhere, without any physical equipment. You can even practice it in a wheelchair or in bed.
  • Completely natural way to activate your energy by using your breath.
  • Reduces pain by raising your natural pain killers, or endorphins, easing  symptoms of illness such as arthritis.
  • Reduces blood pressure and heart disease.
  • Brings healing to your body and helps you recover from autoimmune diseases such as chronic fatigue and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Increases your energy to bring positive change to your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.
  • Gradually helps you reduce the need for medications by healing your body.
How can Qi gong benefit people with arthritis or joint pain? Prevention Magazine calls Qi gong “Nature's New Pain Reliever.” Several small studies of adults with arthritis have shown that Qi gong can improve overall functioning, including reducing joint pain and stiffness. A Canadian study of 80 children with juvenile arthritis found that a 12-week program of Qi gong lead to improvements in confidence, balance and overall physical ability. Promising studies link Qi gong to reducing stress, anxiety and depression associated with suffering from chronic pain and disability. Some of the exercise regimens recommended by western doctors incorporate similar movements to the ones from Qi gong practitioners. But according to Qi gong master Glenys Brown, “There is a huge difference in outcomes between the two methods. This is because Qi gong clients learn to use their strong intention to move the energy in their body. The focus is less on the actual movement and more on the intention, the direction of internal energy and the type of breathing.” She adds, “It is important also to give attention to your food and environment as part of the overall prevention and healing of any problem.” How do you get started with Qi gong?Senior Woman Doing Tai Chi Yoga Exercise Qi gong movements are rhythmic and gentle, so anyone can practice it, whatever  your age or health condition. Here are some ways to get started. 1. Learn more on YouTube. YouTube has many videos that show the movements, and explain the benefits of Qi gong. This is a great first step to trying it out. 2. Find a course on Qi gong and ask to observe a class to see if it’s right for you, or get private instruction. Click this link to help you find Tai Chi and Qi gong classes, groups and events. You can also check out these resources in your area:
  • local wellness center
  • fitness center
  • seniors directories
  • library
  • hospitals and clinics
  • health food stores
  • alternative health or traditional Chinese medicine practitioner.
3. Buy a DVD and practice at home. There are many excellent, inexpensive programs available at Amazon.com or at other online sites. Read the reviews to help you decide which one is best for you. Is Qi gong an instant cure? No. But it can help you heal your pain and give you more energy. Boosting your energy can increase your zest for life – something that children experience naturally, but adults often lose over time. For centuries, people around the world have benefited from gentle, rhythmic movements that promote healing through Qi gong. Why not give it a try and see if it can ease your joint pain, while reducing stress and increasing your vigor and joy in life?

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