If you have ever traveled to Asian countries, you may have noticed that many people, especially the elderly, spend their first morning moments exercising. This healthy habit gets the blood flowing and works out the kinks of sleeping overnight.
Doing it outside is especially beneficial, and try it barefoot (but avoid the cold)! The natural ground variably stimulates the complex foot bones and encourages healthy feet.
I practice tai chi and qigong with great teachers, including Tim Regan, of Water Wheel Tai Chi and Christopher Kiely, L.Ac. This form of exercise has opened my eyes to the benefits of energy work, in the body and mind.
As we age, Tim has said, we become very efficient at using the least amount of muscles to do the most amount of work. This leads to certain muscle groups becoming overly tense, while others become flaccid. This creates unbalanced pull on our muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones.
Qigong exercises are slow and subtle. Practitioners discover where they are tense and stiff, and where they are weak, in a gentle and unfolding way. Practice is refreshing. It’s like resetting your physical and mental energy clock. Deepening practice involves working with breath. Breathing can access your energy in a deep way. Profound change in your health, and your life, can begin from here.
Traditionally, qigong aims to increase blood and qi flow in the meridians and organs of the body. Tim said that our meridians are like rivers, and our muscles are like the banks of these rivers. Therefore the shapes of muscles affect the flow, health and vigor of the meridians. Meridians nourish organs, and organs nourish meridians, in a circadian rhythm.
There are twelve principles of movement which target specific channels and organs. You can learn a simple exercise in conjunction with your acupuncture treatment. Practicing these exercises will enhance your results.
Qigong literally means “practice the qi” or “qi work.” I am only a beginner. “The meaning of Tao is to always remember that you are a beginner” (“Jade Woman Qigong, The Healing Power of Taoist Medicine…,” by Master Liu He, 2009; pg. 129).
If you are intimidated about trying a new form of movement and exercise… Master Liu He recommends:
“Forget your problem, and your problem forgets you.
Practicing Qigong in order to achieve a specific result will limit and even hinder what Qigong can do for you.
Quiet the mind, forget the problem, and let go of preconceptions and expectations.
Open your heart and body to the universe’s Qi. Then, miracles can happen. But first, forget there are miracles” (pg. 36).
With qigong exercise, we practice simple, subtle movements so that we can remain flexible and strong.