Qi Gong

Qi Gong

Katherine Gallia

This ancient exercise draws upon your inner energy to tone muscles, boost circulation, and lift spirits.

WHAT IT IS

Qi gong (pronounced chee gong)–or “energy work”–uses simple movement exercises, breath and sensory awareness, and relaxation techniques to build qi, the life energy that circulates within all living things.

HOW IT WORKS

Qi gong exercises help develop “The Three Regulations”: xing (posture), yi (consciousness), and qi (vital energy). The Chinese believe that a balance between these three elements brings physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. In Western terms the physiological results of qi gong are regulated immune, circulatory, lymph, and nervous systems.

THE VARIETIES

There are four styles of qi gong: mental qi gong helps boost brain activity; medical qi gong is used for healing; martial qi gong builds muscle strength and endurance; and spiritual qi gong helps shape shen, or spirit.

BENEFITS

Qi gong increases circulation, improves coordination, and tones and stretches muscles. It also enhances your shen. A healthy shen, which includes heightened awareness, enables you to live life with more enthusiasm.

Qi gong is most effective in treating chronic pain and disorders of the digestive, respirators cardiovascular, and nervous systems. According to Charles T. McGee, M.D., author of Miracle Healing from China: Qi gong (Medipress, 1994), it complements Western medicine, because patients who practice qi gong recover faster, suffer fewer side effects, and need less medication than other patients.

EVIDENCE

Hundreds of studies published in Chinese medical journals have found qi gong an effective treatment for chronic conditions like hypertension. In one study sponsored by the National Institutes of Health Office of Alternative Medicine, researchers found that qi gong reduced the pain and swelling associated with reflex sympathetic dystrophy, a disabling neurological disease.

PHYSICAL REQUIREMENTS

None. Qi gong exercises are suitable for people of all ages and physical conditions.

CAUTIONS

Because qi gong exercises increase circulation and may suppress appetite, avoid doing them if you are menstruating, have a bleeding disorder, or suffer from anorexia. People with infectious or acute diseases should seek treatment that provides more immediate relief than qi gong. Pregnant women are advised to practice less vigorous qi gong exercises.

STARTING OUT

Beginners should work with a qi gong instructor. Most experts recommend at least 45 minutes of practice daily. Because digestion and sexual activity use qi, don’t eat or drink anything for two hours before a qi gong session, and abstain from sexual intercourse for one hour before and after each session. Cool down for 30 minutes before resuming normal activities.

RESOURCES

The National Qi gong Association–USA (888-218-7788; www.nqa.org) will refer you to qi gong instructors in your area. Also check out The Root of Chinese Qi gong (YMAA, 1997) by Yang, Jwing-Ming, Ph.D.

RELATED ARTICLE: Case History

IN 1979, JANE DONNELLY, then 58 years old, was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Her doctor told her that although there was no cure, chemotherapy and radiation could alleviate some symptoms and slow the disease’s progression. Donnelly did not accept conventional medicine’s dire diagnosis and refused both chemotherapy and radiation.

Instead she turned to Roger Jahnke, O.M.D, author of The Healer Within (Harper Collins, 1997), and his qi gong clinic in Santa Barbara, Calif. Ever since, Donnelly, now 79 years old, has practiced qi gong for an hour every day and has remained symptom-free for almost 20 years. Her doctor will not credit the qi gong with her remarkable recovery. He did, however, tell her this: “I don’t know what you’re doing, but it’s working–so keep on doing it!”

Katherine Gallia is an assistant editor at Natural Health. Additional research by Eliza Wagner.

COPYRIGHT 1999 Weider Publications

COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group