By Toby Helmstetter, LAc
If you've been coming to see me for acupuncture, you may have heard me tout the benefits of Qi Gong. Qi gong is a form of excercise performed by a person to enhance, vitalize, and strengthen their energy. "Qi" means energy, and is described as the motivating force behind all our body's actions. Qi is what allows us to open our eyes in the morning, makes our heart beat, our lungs breathe and our muscles move. "Gong" means work, and qi gong is the act of working our energy, directing it, exercising it, and balancing it. The benfits of qi gong can be found all over the web--Deepak Chopra, Dr. Oz, and Dr. Andrew Weil have all promoted Qi Gong as an important piece in the overall puzzle to create life-long health.
Qi gong utilizes movement, breathing, posture, and focused intention to enhance the flow of energy in the body. The qi gong practitioner goes to a class, or watches a video, to learn certain movements and exercises to effect specific changes in the body. Much like an acupuncture treatment, the practitioner learns to move their body in such a way as to manipulate their own energy, clearing blockages, increasing focus, releasing stuck patterns of disease or emotions, and strengthening their own qi. When coupled with acupuncture treatments, the effects of qi gong can be far-reaching, helping to fight disease and create overall health.
For a great general article about what qi gong is and it's benefits, check out Dr. Weil's article here
This is a cool video from Dr. Oz for a qi gong exercise for peaceful sleep
And here, Deepak Chopra discusses how Qi Gong can be an integral practice for constructively dealing with stress
I practice a kind of Qi Gong called Jin Gui Golden Shield Qi Gong. It's a practice that was taught only to a small number of students in the last 500 years in China. Recently, it was brought to the U.S. by Dr. Zhang, one of Dr. Yang Jin Gui's original students. This practice of qi gong is a physical, meditative, and energetic training system which consists of meditation and physical stimulation to selected areas of the body. I have found the practice to be life changing. It has enhanced my immune function, increased my day-to-day energy, helped release stubborn pain patterns in my body from injuries long ago, and made me a more focused, calmer person. There are several styles of qi gong that one can practice. Here's the link to the local Jin Gui Golden Shield group if you're interested in learning more. Other wonderful local Qi Gong teachers can be found at the Magic Tortoise school in the Triangle. And, if you can't make it to a class, here's a link to a fantastic teacher (who was also a classmate of ours in acupuncture school), with loads of DVD's, Lee Holden. No matter what style you find yourself attracted to, incorporating qi gong into your life may be just the thing you need to propel you to the next level of health and happiness!