The Science Of Qigong

    Qi (pronounced as chi) means life energy. The word is prevalent in traditional Chinese medicine, which is itself based on intellectual and cultural beliefs. Qigong originates from Chinese philosophy and medicine. It means cultivating and balancing health via coordinated body movements and adaptation of postures. It also makes use of deep rhythmic breathing and meditation to ward off disease and instill spirituality.

    China has an old traditional system of knowledge that overshadows almost every aspect of life. Qigong represents one of the facets of this knowledge. It is practiced worldwide for recreation, exercise, health and relaxation. It is believed to cater to self-healing and self-cultivation by endorsing a preventive approach to life problems.

    Besides being an essential part of traditional medicine, qigong techniques also form the basis of martial arts training.

    A Brief History

    Qigong has its roots embedded in ancient Chinese cultures for almost 4000 years. Today, it depicts itself in many forms such as:

    • The traditional Chinese medicine for preventive and therapeutic functions
    • Confucianism to promote longevity and develop moral values
    • Daoism and Buddhism as part of meditative training
    • The Chinese martial arts to learn self-defense

    Qigong originated as remedy dancing. Its purpose was solely therapeutic; to heal the body and preserve its health. People in earlier days believed those body movements, breathing techniques and various exclamations could help readjust certain body functions.

    History pages reveal four significant qigong periods:

    1.     Before 206 B.C. (Zhou dynasty)

    2.     206 B.C. – 500A.D. (Han dynasty)

    3.     500 A.D. – 1911 A.D. (Liang and Qing dynasty)

    4.     1911 A.D. – present times (People’s Republic of China)

    The first era introduced the concept of qi (energy). The universe and laws of nature were thought to integrate into man as energy sources. Ideas like yin and yang and the five elements were introduced. Breathing techniques were discovered and qigong became part of traditional Chinese medicine.

    The second phase saw the arrival of Buddhist meditation methods. It resulted in the merging of religion into therapeutic medicine and integration of body, mind and soul to achieve higher levels of bliss.

    As more and more cultures influenced the Chinese (Japanese and Indian), qigong emerged as a self-defense system. Martial arts and other forms of qigong were founded in the third era.

    More assimilations followed in the contemporary era, where researchers and scientists tried to link qigong and health. Active efforts were made to exhibit qigong as a preventive strategy against diseases. The scientists studied and taught qigong from the perspective of physiology, biochemistry and other subjects of modern medicine.

    The subject of science is branching out under the guidance of masters of the modern-day qigong. 

    The Science Of Qigong

    Qi means air, gas, or breath. It is used as a metaphor for vital energy, which circulates throughout our body according to the traditional Chinese concept. Qi also refers to the universal energy sources like heat, light and electromagnetic forms. According to the Chinese traditions, any disturbance of or among the different qi (energy) sources leads to ill-health and disease. Qi forms the basis of traditional Chinese medicine. Gong means to work. The words gong fu or kung fu mean to achieve through tremendous or maximum effort. Qigong collectively means to develop and balance life energy to prevent or cure disease.

    There are numerous forms of qigong (75 ancient and 56 contemporary). They umbrella five principle aspects:

    • Medical
    • Martial
    • Spiritual
    • Intellectual
    • Life nourishing

    Different practices that coordinate body, mind and breath include:

    • Moving meditation
    • Still meditation
    • Sound meditation
    • Massage
    • Chanting
    • Non-contact treatments

    These are addressed as:

    • Dynamic or active qigong with slow, smooth, flowing movements that are coordinated with breathing. These are repeated to stretch and strengthen the body, enhance the movement of body fluids, improve balance and create an awareness of the movement of one’s body through space.
    • Meditative or passive qigong with static positions and inner movement of the breath.

    The therapeutic effects of qigong are achieved through:

    • Focusing internally promoting self-care and healing, or
    • Receiving qi by external sources (a therapist, herbs, massage, physical manipulation, or interaction with other living organisms)

    Science-Backed Benefits

    Qigong is an active topic of research-based studies for its (proposed) health benefits. The research efforts are still in infancy but intriguing and encouraging.

    • Since qigong integrates physical movements, breathing exercises with a mindful approach help alleviate physical and emotional stress. This is proposed to be beneficial in cardiovascular disease.
    • Relieving stress and enhancing the quality of life are essential aspects of managing Parkinson’s disease. The evidence is insufficient to refute or accept qigong’s role, leaving room for more research.
    • The mind-body interventions seem to have some role in disease and treatment-based symptoms of cancer. The techniques help improve the quality of life of cancer patients.
    • A study revealed the benefits of qigong in easing symptoms of depression. Another study also related the effects of qigong in young adults with subclinical symptoms of depression.
    • A meta-analysis evaluated the benefits in patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The results showed improvements in physical performance, lung function, remission of breathlessness, and overall quality of life in such patients.
    • Another study involved a group of elderly in forest therapy programs for managing dementia. one group focused on walking while the other participated in qigong. Qigong and walking were both associated with upshots regarding dementia and other health-related aging issues.
    • A pilot, randomized, controlled study employed mind-body interventions of qigong in primary and informal caregiver personnel. The research is yet to come up with the results. The piece of research shows the interest of scientists in the subject topic.
    • A meta-analysis evaluated the effects of traditional Chinese exercise (tai chi and others) in alleviating knee osteoarthritis pain. The results concluded that the practice effectively improved the joint pain, stiffness and functionality in such patients.
    • A study analyzed the implementation of qigong in patients recovering from heroin addiction and withdrawal symptoms. The results were promising, with reduced symptoms of withdrawal in the group participating. Many pieces of research and studies second the positive effects of qigong.
    • Studies have revealed qigong caters to lessen chronic fatigue syndrome.
    • Qigong helps improve the immune response.

    Qigong balances the body and eases away stress. These two benefits suffice to preserve the well-being and vigor of our bodies.

    - Advertisement -spot_img
    - Advertisement -spot_img

    Recommended Articles