An ancient Chinese healing system and an essential component of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Qigong empowers individuals to take a more active role in their health care and to achieve balance in mind, body, and spirit.
In order to better understand Qigong practice, it’s helpful to further explore the concept of “Qi” or “life force energy”. In TCM, Qi is believed to give and animate all of life; it’s the life force that makes a human being feel alive, alert, and present. When Qi is low, people feel sluggish, fatigued, and are more prone to disease. Consequently, the cultivation of Qi through the practice of Qigong can bring about positive health benefits to individuals living with illness or disease. An increasing number of studies indicate that Qigong may improve quality of life, emotional health and immune function in cancer survivors. Among survivors, Qigong may also help reduce fatigue, stress, depression and anxiety.
It is helpful to think of Qigong as ebbing and flowing movements rather than a form of physical exercise. There are thousands of forms of Qigong and participants are encouraged to experiment with different forms to find ones that best suit individual needs. Qigong practices often invoke the movement of animals—lumbering like a bear, playing like a monkey- as well as the elemental powers of nature – the gushing of water, the blowing of wind.
Qigong styles range from focusing on overall health and well-being to more targeted, therapeutic treatment. All styles of Qigong are rooted in similar principles of relaxed, rooted posture straight, supple spine, diaphragmatic breathing, fluid movements emanating from within, without excess effort, and tranquil awareness.
Why should I use Qigong?
Because of its utilization of gentle movements and deep breathing, Qigong often feels effortless. The slow, controlled movements of Qigong are easy for beginners to learn and follow. With that said, perfection of form is not required to obtain immediate health benefits from Qigong practice.
Individuals who practice Qigong are able to achieve a meditative state which leads to many emotional and mental health benefits including enhanced cognitive capability, enhanced creativity, and mood improvement. Qigong also builds stamina and increases flexibility.
While studies on the health benefits of Qigong continue, research find that regular Qigong practice leads to:
- Improved quality of life
- Improved immune function
- Improved mood and emotional being
- Improve balance and flexibility
- Reduced stress
- Reduced fatigue
- Reduced anxiety and depression
- Decreased heart rate
- Decreased blood pressure
How does Qigong work?
When you first start practicing Qigong, you will go through a discovery and exploration period to determine the most appropriate Qigong forms for you. Thousands of forms of Qigong exist; some forms require more physical movement than other forms that are focused on visualization and breath. Qigong forms can range from a single motion or stance throughout the entire practice to a series of gentle movements. Despite these differences, all forms of Qigong cultivate and nourish life force energy. People who practice Qigong report feeling a sensation of warmth or a magnetic energy gathering in a particular part of their body where the mind focuses on. In your practice, you may develop a base set of favorite Qigong forms and then add new forms and movements as you deepen your practice.
Is Qigong right for me?
Qigong is cost effective, accessible, and does not require special equipment. Qigong classes may be hosted by organizations, treatment centers, churches, schools and offered to clients, employees, or the general public for free or a small fee. Private sessions may also be offered at your home, at the practitioner’s location, or in public locations, such as parks. Qigong is beneficial when you are in a time crunch as people may experience the benefits of Qigong practice in as little as a few minutes. It is accessible and adaptable for a variety of situations and health conditions.
How do I talk to my healthcare provider about practiving Qigong?
Before speaking with your healthcare provider about beginning a Qigong program, it is important to do research and look up information regarding the health benefits of Qigong. Provide and discuss this information with your healthcare provider before making a decision to begin practicing Qigong. It is important for your doctor to be made aware of your health goals and concerns around Qigong so that your healthcare provider can best support you in management of your health conditions. Qigong should never be used as a replacement for conventional medical treatment or as a reason to postpone seeing a healthcare provider about any health problem.
Have others with cancer used Qigong?
The use of Qigong as an integrative therapy among cancer survivors is widespread and studies have found that Qigong can have positive impact on physical and mental health. Individuals who practice Qigong have stated:
“I think Qi Gong can help in every emotional state as it is an elevation of this happiness level, internal harmony.”
“At the beginning [of training in Qi Gong], these [distractive] thoughts had been circulating in my head very often, but the longer the training period, I started to feel energy…[and] these thoughts become unattractive.”
“I come to class full of anticipation. I leave feeling peaceful and strong.”
“The Qi Gong classes…were a very important healing element in my recovery from lung cancer surgery and chemotherapy. Personally, I felt that the Qi Gong exercises put me intimately in touch with the various organs to the point where an internal discourse was possible. Through visualization and mindful concentration of healing energy aimed at the lung, liver, heart, etc. the vital functions are enhanced and self-healing is made possible. It is my intention to continue Qi Gong practice, to maintain optimal health. I am very grateful for the exposure and recommend Qi Gong to anyone struggling with recovery, no matter what state of health they are in.”
What is Qigong like?
If you are interested in acupuncture but would like to see a session before you try it yourself, we invite you to watch a video featuring Healther Chalon, MPH. NEED TO MOVE TO VIMEO
How do I choose a Qigong provider/class?
There is no cer fying body for Qigong, but there are membership organiza ons that keep a lis ng of instructors including Na onal Qigong Associa on (nqa.org), Qigong Ins tute (qigongins tute.org), Tai Chi for Health Ins tute (TCHI.org), and the American Associa on of Tai Chi and Qigong (americantaichi.org).
Despite the popularity of Qigong, the training for Qigong instructors is not standardized. Many experts agree that by its nature, it cannot or should not be standardized. However, this leads to a situa on where both the quality and qualifica ons of Qigong instructors greatly varies.
Before learning Qigong under the direc on of a teacher, ask first about his or her training and per‐ sonal experience with Qigong. A Qigong teacher should be humble and compassionate and open to answer your ques ons and talk to you about your health concerns and goals. The teaching environ‐ ment should be welcoming and provide you with a safe space for personal explora on, while inspiring a community of well‐being. It is important to find a teacher who can support you in your own growth and explora on with Qigong.