Qigong is a system of combining physical postures, breathing techniques and mental focus to provide healing to the human body and increase its vitality and energy. It is a part of an ancient Chinese health system. The word Qi means life force or vital-energy that flows through all things in the world. Gong means accomplishment. So Qigong, means basically maintaining vital energy. People practice Qigong to heal their bodies and minds and reconnect with their spirits.

The practice is not an exercise designed to burn calories or increase your heart rate. Their purpose is to improve the circulation of the body, and improve balance and alignment, as well as healing.. The practice is very helpful for exercise beginners and people with health conditions, however, many elite athletes use it to help them with their stamina and muscle control.

Types of Qigong

There are three styles of the practice. Martial, medical and spiritual. They all use posturing of the body. Some are moving postures, others are stationary. They all involve breathing techniques and mental focus. Some of the methods increase the amount of Qi in the body, some help it circulate throughout the body, and some forms heal the body. There are even practices that allow Qi energy to be transferred to other people.

The Medical practice is the most popular type. It is the foundation from which acupuncture, herbal medicine and massage originated. It uses the basic theories of TCM for diagnosing and treating illnesses. The method can be used by individuals for self-healing or by practitioners to heal others.

The Martial method shows extreme physical abilities, like breaking bricks or other near impossible feats. For many this is a great form of exercise and mental stimulation.

Tai Chi is a soft internal style of the practice, while Kung Fu is more extreme and external. This practice is though, a slow and gentle practice of movement that anyone of any age and any ability can get involved with and benefit from it. It is easy enough to master, that many disabled people use it as a regular form of exercise.

Health Benefits of the Practice

Many health care professionals recommend the practice to their patients as an alternative form of treatment, for specific problems. Most forms of exercise do not involve the mind focus or breathing techniques that Qigong does. These factors benefit the exercise program significantly. The movements and rhythm help reduce stress, increase energy, build stamina and increase overall health. It has been shown to increase the efficiency of bodily functions including the cardiovascular system, respiration and circulation, lymphatic and the digestion functions. Healing of injuries and illnesses is aided as well.

Many have claimed that consistent practice can help with maintaining vitality and a high level of energy into old age. Others claim that it has helped them by allowing quicker healing from injuries and illnesses. Research as shown that it can even reduce hypertension in those who suffer from it. Studies have shown that Qigong is a good way for diabetics, who have been immobile for a while, to get back into moving again. The gentle approach to movement can be helpful to many people recovering from illnesses, because it is very low-impact.

How Qigong Benefits the Muscles

Unlike aerobic exercise, the method builds a relaxed power and looseness in the muscles. Rather than fighting and straining to do something, relaxed power, allows the muscles to do things by simply allowing the energy to flow freely to them.

The purpose of practicing the method is to strengthen and balance all the internal organs. There are specific techniques to strengthen the liver to help with recovery from hepatitis. There are lung exercises to help with recovery from tuberculosis. Other techniques are aimed at strengthening the heart. Even if a person has no physical ailments, the practice can help strengthen areas of the body that are not as strong as they should be.

Qigong's Effect on Nerves

Qi flows along the nerves of the body. Nerves are the connection between the body and the mind. The practice emphasizes getting in touch with the body and freeing blockages allowing the healing process to occur. This is accomplished through the nervous system. As qi increases in the body, nerves are strengthened and body awareness is enhanced. Qi can help build more coordination and more vital overall health. The nerves being strengthened also helps with stress reduction, and the rebuilding of bodies depleted from long-term stress.
Qigong Benefits the Disabled

The practice is not used exclusively by people in tip-top shape. Because of its gentle, low-impact approach to increasing mobility, and muscle and nerve strength, many disable people can reap the benefits as well. There are many techniques designed for those with weaknesses or those who are immobile. There are methods that can help increase physical capabilities without requiring intense movement. Many techniques can be practiced while lying down, if a person is not able to stand or sit. By practicing the techniques over time, many disabled or sick people will see an increase in their overall strength.
Maintain Better Balance

Balance is increased with regular practice. It teaches a person how to turn their bodies correctly without straining or injuring muscles. It increases the bodies flexibility, making injuries less likely. Many claim it is like a gentle stretch and acupuncture combined. It improves circulation and increases the energy flow through the body. This reduces the time it takes for the healing process to be completed for many injuries.

Qigong has many benefits. It is a gentle way for any person to increase their stamina, relieve stress, increase muscle tone and simply increase the energy flow through their bodies. The beneficial effects of increased energy flow are endless. The physical condition of the body is improved, recover from illness or injury is greatly increased, and the feeling of mental well-being is strengthened. Adding a short amount of time each day, to the practice will be well worth the effort.

Learn the art by reading about it, or find a qualified instructor to help jump start the process. There are many groups that offer instruction for the practice. Either way, it is something that all people can benefit from, whether healing the mind or the body.

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