What is Qigong?
Chinese qigong has a history of more than seven thousand years and is widely practiced by people from various walks of life. The purpose for learning qigong is mainly for cultivating mental calmness, improving physical fitness, and prolonging life. Over several thousands of years, a complete system of practice has been formulated.
Qigong is very diverse in function and form. Besides preserving health, preventing disease, and promoting longevity, qigong also improves one’s thinking capabilities and intelligence. Qigong is an exercise concerned with the development of internal energy (Qi). Internal energy, unlike bone, skin, and blood, is invisible to the eye but is the essence of human life. By practicing qigong exercises, one can increase the quantity and quality of one’s internal energy to live a much healthier life.
Qigong produces various effects. The most fundamental is the prevention and treatment of disease. A classical statement suggests that “the best way to treat disease is before it begins”. Qigong can help regulate the higher nervous system and other physiological systems within the body, enhance the functions of the internal organs, and build up inner strength. This will induce stronger resistance to diseases and better health. The practice of qigong is known to many as a way of building internal strength and preventing disease, but few know that qigong has a very curative effect. More than two thousand years ago there were qigong methods used to treat different disorders such as poor digestion, headaches, and joint problems.
Basic Elements of Qigong
If one wants to understand the function of qigong in the treatment of illness and the improvement of health, the main characteristics of qigong must first be discussed. The main characteristics of qigong consists of regulating the mind, breath, and posture. These key elements are considered the basis of all styles of qigong.
Mind: All forms of qigong place the same demand on the mind. This would include calming the mind, concentrating the thoughts, and relaxing the body. The main goal is to regulate the function of the central nervous system. Among the process of practicing qigong, the muscles of the body relax, the breathing rate decreases, and the brain waves normalize. As one can see, after reaching a state of calmness through the regulation of the mind, the central nervous system will enter a state of calmness. After long practice of qigong, this will not only nurture and improve the health of the body, but it will also give a good basis for the cure of disease and a supplement to medical treatment. This is especially important to those with nervous system disorders.
Breath: The function of the breath can be looked at from many different types of qigong styles. The main demand of breathing is to use abdominal breathing to smoothly, deeply, and slowly breathe in air. According to the fundamentals of physiology, the deeper the breath is inhaled, the greater the increase in the quality of the breath; moreover, the pressure within the abdomen will change causing the abdominal muscles to be exercised. This will improve the function of the intestines which will in turn improve digestion. The movement of the abdomen muscles will also
massage the internal organs such as the liver, gall bladder, intestines, and so forth. The breathing method found in qigong has improved the appetite, complexion of the skin, and has strengthened the body in elementary qigong practitioners.
Posture: The key point for the ability of qigong to cure illness and improve health is in the fact that qigong contains specific postures. When the posture is combined with the mind and breath, the flow of blood will be increased and strengthened. The postures found in qigong are very plentiful. Each posture has a certain function for each part of the body. For example, standing and walking qigong postures are beneficial for the muscular development of the body. Sitting and lying qigong postures are beneficial for relaxing the muscles, nurturing the spirit, and for regulating the nervous system. Lying qigong is very beneficial for strengthening the stomach and intestines, and for improving the digestion.