"Qigong is the most profound health practice ever invented by mankind for the prevention of illness, reducing stress, mangaging chronic conditions, increasing longevity, and promoting healthy, active aging." Tom Rogers, President, Qigong Institute.
Although the term "Qigong" was coined in the middle of the 20th Century (for a more complete, scholarly history of Qigong, see Qigong Fever: Body, Science, and Utopia in China, and a very good summary can be found in Chinese Medical Qigong), the origin of the practices that now constitute Qigong (e.g. nei-gong, yang-sheng, and dao-yin) predate recorded history. Qigong is self-initiated health and wellness practice consisting of a combination of movement, self-massage, meditation, and breathing. Qigong practice puts the body into the relaxation/regeneration state (the relaxation response) where the autonomic nervous system is predominately in the parasympathetic mode. Qigong can be done anywhere, anytime. It is excellent for stress reduction, prevention of illness, dealing with chronic illness, healthy and active aging, and longevity. Practicing Qigong is as simple as doing the Three Intentful Corrections (adjust the posture, breath, and mind).
The word Qigong ("chee-gung"), translated roughly as 'energy techniques' or 'energy skills,' refers to the ancient Chinese internal arts used since pre-historic times to promote health, emotional happiness, and spiritual development. These methods combine movement or postures, breath or mantra, and mind-intention to balance and enhance one's vital, life-energy. It has been popularly referred to as Chinese yoga, and it is a new category of exercise called moving meditation.
These wellness methods formed the early root of Chinese medicine and are still considered an integral part of modern Chinese medicine, along with acupuncture, acupressure, and herbal medicine. Today, millions of people practice Qigong around the world to successfully treat a myriad of diseases, to improve general health, support longevity, and to promote psycho-spiritual growth and happiness. Most notably, Qigong practice can provide profound relief from stress and strongly enhance the body's immune function. Successful aging is related to the optimal functioning of the immune system¹. Current data published by the US Department of Health and Human Services states that some seventy percent of diseases reported in the US today are totally preventable. In a time when healthcare options appear ever more limited, the increased awareness and use of Qigong is great news.
Qigong is a combination of Qi (life-force, energy, creativity, consciousness, breath, function) and gong (cultivation or practice over time).
The Qigong Institute What's New page includes the most recent scientific and medical research on Qigong and Energy Medicine as well as news on Qigong, Tai Chi and Energy Medicine events, symposiums, research, conferences, and seminars. Examples:
A Comprehensive Review of Health Benefits of Qigong and Tai Chi
Author(s): Roger Jahnke, Linda Larkey, Carol Rogers, Jennifer Etnier, Fang Lin. Publication: American Journal of Health Promotion, July/August 2010, V24, I6, e1-25. This review examined the evidence for achieving outcomes from randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of Qigong and Tai Chi. RCTs reporting on the results of Qigong or Tai Chi interventions and published in peer-reviewed journals from 1993 to 2007 were identified. Seventy-seven articles met the inclusion criteria. The nine outcome category groupings that emerged were: bone density (n = 4), cardiopulmonary effects (n = 19), physical function (n = 16), falls and related risk factors (n = 23), quality of life (n = 17), self-efficacy (n = 8), patient-reported outcomes (n = 13), psychological symptoms (n = 27), and immune function (n = 6). Research has demonstrated consistent, significant results for a number of health benefits in RCTs, evidencing progress toward recognizing the similarity and equivalence of Qigong and Tai Chi. Watch a one minute segment on this research shown on abcNews. Additional information on the authors, the review effort, and results (scroll down to page 15).
Harvard Medical School Endorses Tai Chi (Qigong)
Harvard Medical School's Harvard Health Publications May 2009 issue calls Tai Chi "medication in motion". The article explains how Tai Chi when combined with standard treatment is helpful for a range of conditions including arthritis, low bone density, breast cancer, heart disease, heart failure, hypertension, Parkinson's disease, sleep problems, and stroke.
How Qigong Works in the Body. Chi gung works strongly on the body fluids, including blood, lymph and the synovial and cerebrospinal fluids. Unlike aerobics, chi gung does not dramatically increase the heart rate during exercise. The object of chi gung is not to make the heart pump more strongly, but to increase the elasticity of the vascular system.
As the vessels expand and contract with more vigor, the heart does not need to pump as strongly, thereby providing it with more rest. The lymph fluids are moved primarily by tiny muscular expansions and contractions. Chi gung's relatively fine muscular expansions and contractions move lymph efficiently through the entire system.
"The most profound medicine is produced in the human body for free."
"American society is based on self reliance -- everywhere except healthcare."
Dr. Roger Jahnke
Cultivating Qi and Activating the Healer Within is a compelling article on why Qigong can have such a profound impact on the delivery of health care. Dr. Jahnke’s message is simple, striking, and empowering: The most profound medicine is not at the hospital, pharmacy, or doctor’s office. It is produced within us through the balance and harmony of physiology, mind, and spirit. According to Dr. Jahnke, all of the necessary components of self-healing have been in place within us since the beginning of the human race. Both ancient and contemporary philosophers have pointed to our naturally occurring self-healing capacity and contemporary science has confirmed the spontaneous function of self-repair and self-restoration. Reducing stress is an extremely important skill, given that the American Institute of Stress lists stress as America's #1 health problem and that 75 - 90 percent of visits to primary care physicians are stress related. Also see Dr. Jahnke's interview in EXPLORE magazine where he explains in more detail the profound health benefits of Qigong and how people can actually heal themselves: A Conspiracy of Miracles: Qi, Spirit-Mind-Body, and the Transformation of Healthcare.
"The science and art of Qigong may open a window into new thinking about health, medicine, psychology and spirituality. It is a physical, mental and spiritual practice that continuously supports our natural tendency toward homeostasis. Innate abilities have an opportunity to develop; the senses more keen, organ function more consistent and strong, the sympathetic nervous system relaxed, parasympathetic nervous system efficient, the mind relaxed, alert, clear, freely channeling messages in a multitude of new and diverse directions." Dr. Ken Sancier, Founder of the Qigong Institute.
Listen to Lee Holden, author, herbalist, licensed acupuncturist, and regular fixture on Amercian Public Broadcasting discuss Qigong.
A Demonstration of Wuji Swimming Dragon Qigong by Francesco Garripoli, Emmy and Telly award winning Chairman of the Board of the Qigong Institute.
The concept of Qi energy has been an integral component of Eastern philosophy and medicine for thousands of years. However, there is no single accepted definition of Qi. Some people think that Qi is an electric energy, while others believe it is magnetic energy, or heat energy. Scientists have long been interested in measuring Qi but it cannot yet be measured by any medical science or explained via physics. However, there is a lot of science behind Qigong – more so than any other form of Energy Medicine. ...More. From: Absorbing the Essence, www.simonblowqigong.com.
Exercisers Slow It Down With Qigong. The face of exercise is changing in America. Instead of relentlessly pursuing a sculptured physique, people are chasing longevity, stress reduction and improved health through mind-body practices like qigong.
Dr. Herbert Benson describes the myriad health benefits of mind-body practices such as Qigong and Tai Chi. Surgery and pharmaceuticals are unable to treat the vast majority of stress-related illness. Children should be taught these practices. They can dramatically reduce stress and health care costs.
World Congress on Qigong
These are amazing gatherings of world-class Qigong and Tai Chi experts and western medical doctors, PhD's, and research experts. For information visit East West Healing Arts.
Qigong Institute Founder Ken Sancier is one of the experts interviewed in the following video.
Medical background information on Qigong and Tai Chi from the Aetna Intellihealth website. Medical Content for this site is created by Natural Standard and the Faculty of the Harvard Medical School: Qi Gong , Tai Chi
A lifestyle for healthy, active living includes exercise, nutrition, and a mind-body practice. Physical exercise and proper nutrition are necessary, but not sufficient, to maintain optimal health. Likewise, mind-body practices without the other two are also not enough for optimal health.
The mind-body practices of Qigong and Tai Chi sustain and improve the health of the immune system, nervous system, internal organs; and improve the ability to lower stress. This is accomplished through the combination of breathing, meditation, and movement. Proper posture, spinal alignment, and centering are integral components of the movement. Meditation promotes increased brain plasticity, heightened motor sensory consciousness, greater ability to focus awareness, and alteration of gene transcription to promote health and healing.
Bioelectricity, Qi, and the Human Body. Qi is the electric energy associated with living organisms. Electricity, defined by Merriam-Webster, is as follows: a fundamental form of energy observable in positive and negative forms that occurs naturally (as in lightning) or is produced (as in a generator) and that is expressed in terms of the movement and interaction of electrons. Generally speaking, when thinking of electricity, we think of it as something external to our human bodies: the naturally occurring lightning and human created technology being two said instances. There is, however, a form of electricity that is prevalent in every living creature: bioelectricity.From: Mindful Life by Design.
Daisy Lee gives a short introduction to the essence of Qigong.
"Tai Chi, Qigong, Yoga will play an important part in the global awakening."
-- Eckhart Tolle, author of A New Earth (Oprah's Bookclub pick)
HOW QIGONG IS MAKING A DIFFERENCE
Medical Benefits of Qigong
According to an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Lazarou et. al.) which analyzed the incidence of serious and fatal adverse drug reactions (ADRs) in hospital patients, in a single year over two million patients had serious ADRs and over 100,000 ADRs were fatal. And this was just in the hospital patient population under study. The Qigong and Energy Medicine Database™ holds thousands of references going back to 1986, covering medical applications, scientific, and experimental studies on Qigong and related energy therapies from around the world. Records in English have been compiled from International Qigong conferences and seminars, scientific journals, magazines, dissertations, MEDLINE, and other databases. One example concerning prescription drug use is from Therapeutic Benefits of Qigong Exercises in Combination with Drugs . J Altern Complement Med. 1999; 5(4):383-389; ISSN: 1341-9226, by Ken Sancier, founder and CEO of the Qigong Institute:
"The therapeutic role of Qigong exercises combined with drugs is reported for three medical conditions that require drug therapy for health maintenance: hypertension, respiratory disease, and cancer. In these studies, drugs were administered to all patients who were divided into two groups, a group that practiced qigong exercises and a control group that did not. Taken together, these studies suggest that practicing Qigong exercises may favorably affect many functions of the body, permit reduction of the dosage of drugs required for health maintenance, and provide greater health benefits than the use of drug therapy alone. For hypertensive patients, combining qigong practice with drug therapy for hypertensive patients resulted in reduced incidence of stroke and mortality and reduced dosage of drugs required for blood pressure maintenance. For asthma patients, the combination therapy permitted reduction in drug dosage, the need for sick leave, duration of hospitalization, and costs of therapy. For cancer patients, the combination therapy reduced the side effects of cancer therapy. Also reported is a study showing that the practice of Qigong helps to rehabilitate drug addicts." Ken Sancier.
Another example is a study on how Qigong prevents bone loss:
This study aimed to assess the efficacy of a 12-week Baduanjin qigong training program in preventing bone loss for middle-aged women. An experimental design was adopted, and subjects were assigned randomly into an experimental group (n = 44) and a control group (n = 43). The experimental group received a 12-week Baduanjin qigong training program, whereas the control group did not. Interleukin-6 (IL-6) and bone mineral density (BMD) were measured before and after the intervention. The results showed significant differences in IL-6 (t = -5.19, p < 0.000) and BMD (t = 1.99, p = 0.049) between the groups. Baduanjin reduced IL-6 and maintained BMD in the experimental group. In conclusion, this study demonstrates promising efficacy of Baduanjin in preventing bone loss commonly occurring in middle-aged women. Thus, Baduanjin is valuable for promoting and maintaining the health status of middle-aged women. The full text of this article is available at The Effects of Baduanjin Qigong in the Prevention of Bone Loss for Middle-Aged Women.
"There is the widespread belief in our culture of the technological fix. This extends especially to drugs that are used to address chemical imbalances. In the meantime, prevention, nutrition, exercise, healthy living habits, and self-healing have been de-emphasized or discarded. Just a few of the consequences of this are a dramatically over-weight population and degenerative diseases that have replaced infectious diseases as the most pressing health issues...Adverse drug reaction is a leading cause of diseases and death. Chemical cures are still unpredictable. In spite of their 'precision' dosages, there is insufficient research on what else is going on in other parts of the brain and body when these drugs are administered...Some non-energetic conventional remedies are widely used, and even reimbursed by insurance companies, but have not been proven to be medically or cost effective and have side effects that can be harmful." Tom Rogers, President, Qigong Institute.
There are many different energy psychology techniques. Two of the more prominent approaches to this profound psychotherapy technique and healing modality include the use of Qigong and Acupoint Tapping.
Qigong in the Martial Arts
There are thousands of different types of Qigong. Arguably the most popular type of Qigong for martial arts is zhan zhuang (“jan jong”). This is also known as “stake standing”. The practitioner stands motionless in a particular posture to develop internal strength. A widely practiced form of zhan zhuang is Wuji Qigong. It is very easy to practice yet is said to be difficult to master. Standing Qigong practice develops integrated body/mind awareness and focus, called “sung” in Chinese. Some masters train only using this form of Qigong. Shown is Chen style Tai Chi Grandmaster Chen Qingzhou demonstrating zhan zhaung.
23 Ways to Boost Your Immune System. #4: Practice Qigong. This Chinese mind-body exercise combines breath control and slow movements to reduce stress and improve focus, but it may also help combat colds. Twenty-seven varsity swimmers in a University of Virginia study learned qigong, and during their seven-week training season, those who practiced it at least once a week got 70% fewer respiratory infections than swimmers who used it less.
Qigong for Autism and Children with Disabilities
A team from Western Oregon University’s Teaching Research Institute and the non-profit Qigong Sensory Training Institute, led by Dr. Louisa Silva, has shown that Qigong Massage is an effective sensory system treatment for children with autism. The method they have developed teaches parents how to give a fifteen minute massage to their child, once a day for at least five months. The program has been shown to help children sleep better, have less aggression, transition more easily, decrease self-injurious behaviors, and improve eye contact, language and social skills. Research papers published in peer-reviewed medical journals include:
As a private, non-profit organization, the mission of the Qigong Sensory Training Institute is: To make the Qigong Sensory Training Program for young children with autism accessible to parents and professionals; and to further research in qigong treatments of young children with disabilities.
World Champion Racewalker's Training Secret: Qigong
Trying to keep up with the world's fastest racewalking gerontologist, Jack Bray, would be difficult for people just half his age. Jack has developed a winning training strategy that is built upon a foundation of Qigong. To learn more, read Walking With Qi: the Nine Jewels of Qigong Walking
Qigong in Prisons
The U. S. prison population is enormous and growing. Stress is a relentless and inevitable element of life in prison. The physical, mental and emotional toll that stress-related illnesses take on the inmates, guards and their families is huge. This toll filters into the rest of society. Some courageous people are addressing this problem by teaching Qigong inside prisons. Strong initial evidence indicates that inmates who practice Qigong are generally healthier and make a better adjustment when they gain their freedom. If this proves to be true, the societal and economic benefits are potentially very large. To read one teacher’s experiences of introducing thousands of inmates in California prisons to Qigong, visit Judy Tretheway's Qigong Prison Ministry . In addition, Bill Douglas, the organizer of World Tai Chi and Qigong Day, describes teaching Qigong in Folsom prison in California and Penal and Drug Rehabilitation at the Kansas Correctional Facility for Women.
Singapore's Health Promotion Board (HPB) is the country's main driver for national health promotion and disease prevention programmes. Its goal is to increase the quality and years of healthy life and prevent illness, disability and premature death. HPB implements programmes that reach out to the population, specifically children, adults and the elderly. Getting Started on Qigong Health is a brochure for people starting out with Qigong that includes illustrations of basic Qigong practices. National Health Qigong Programme Launch (video 2:26) shows large numbers of citizens practicing Qigong during the launch of the program.
Singapore government promotes Qigong and Tai Chi to seniors, in National Parks, and the workplace. Exercises such as brisk-walking and martial art forms qigong and taiji are already popular among the elderly, but a government committee is giving them a further boost to ensure seniors stay active and healthy. Some 500 brisk-walking clubs have been formed with about 90,000 participants. There are also 86 qigong clubs with 7,000 members. And close to 2,000 participants joined in a mass display during a taiji launch.
Although they define reality using different terms, quantum physics and the two main philosophies (Buddhism and Taoism) that influenced modern Qigong are in agreement on the fundamental nature of reality: It is characterized by impermanence or change, the interconnectedness of all things, and the fundamental equivalence of mass and energy. Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity describes this equivalence as "e=mc2"; the Buddhists refer to form or not form (aka "emptiness"); and the Taoists recognize yin and yang. So form, mass, and yin are describing the same state of being as are not form, energy, and yang. But how can something exist yet not exist at the same time? How does one go about exploring this conundrum beyond the realm of intellect and thought into experience and presence? A wonderful way to start is through the simple yet profound practice of Spontaneous Qigong. Spontaneous Qigong is said to be easy to do but difficult to master. This is no surprise, since one of the fundamentals of any Qigong practice is calming the mind.
Start by practicing Qigong forms (see Getting Started with Qigong for some examples) interpersed with free-form Qigong where your movements are led by your Qi (energy). Just move in whatever way your body tells you. You become a living metaphor for moving in and out of form. You become just like the clouds. They form from seemingly nothing, have substance that our senses can detect (mainly through sight), and then they disappear back into nothing, which is where they came from. Spontaneous Qigong or Qigong Dancing (Spontaneous Qigong to music) is a way to experience this shifting in and out of time and pure awareness. Qigong was originally a healing dance. Shaman would give a Qigong "prescription" for people bent over working in fields all day. For examples of Qigong dancing or Qigong with music, see the Dancing Qigong DVD Trailer . Then forget the dancer (the self or ego) and become the dance (pure energy). As one Qigong teacher explains,
"Qigong is not just a set of movements, not just meditation, mantra recitations, or cultivation of qi. Qigong is a path of life mastery, a path to enlightenment. The movements, mantras, and meditations are tools that are used towards that end. The tools should not limit you. They should help you grow...A Qigong form is meant to assist a person in gaining the health, energy, and sensitivity needed to expore the more spiritual dimensions in life. After the basics of Qigong are learned, proper posture and alignments, etc., the student is ready to explore some of the deeper aspects of the art. What happens to some practitioners of spiritual movement systems such as Qigong ... is that they strive for perfection of the form, that is, perfection of the outer form, their posture and alignment. And they end up ignoring the inner experience... What is most important is what is happening on the inside, the energetic, meditative, and spiritual aspect of the art." Richard.
Shaking and dancing has been prescribed by Chinese Buddhist medical practitioners for centuries to treat a number of physical and emotional disorders. It is a highly effective method for removing energy stagnation and breaking down hardened thinking patterns. Shaking the wrists alone is considered an effective way to treat depression. Chinese Buddhist Qigong masters consider the shaking as preparation for meditation whereas the dance is the meditation.
Qigong for the Classroom: A study published in the June 2007 issue of the Journal of Chinese Medicine has found that including a particular type of qigong exercise program helped calm and energize the students, as well as improving health and reducing aggression.
Dr. Gaspar Garcia realized that if businessmen had been taught from their childhood simple breathing and relaxation techniques, as well as basic preventive medicine concepts, they would not suffer as adults the devastating effects of stress. The Smart Living Program was born from that realization. This program was implemented in schools in Costa del Sol, Spain, and its objective was to convey these teachings to children and young people so they would be able to benefit from them throughout their lives. For more information, contact Dr. Garcia at Luohan Qigong.
Dr Paul Lam has a very well received program for children called Tai Chi 4 Kidz.
Hiruko incorporates Qigong and Tai Chi fundamentals into martial arts training for youngsters.
Tai Chi for Kids has been adapted for students with special education needs, including those in wheel chairs and who have severe physical and mental disabilities.
Children in Uganda at an elementary school for AIDS orphans love to do Tai Chi. Here they are doing the elephant. Another favorite is the tiger. You should hear the breathing sound of the ferocious tiger as it focuses and charges.
More Schools are Practicing Tai Chi
In the past 12 months (as of July 2010) Tai Chi for Kids workshops have been given in California, Florida, Massachusetts, New York, Illinois, Indiana, Colorado and Mexico. Schools in Australia and Great Britain love the Tai Chi program. With video conferencing Tai Chi workshops can be held anywhere. As teachers we inspire our students with knowledge, tools for success and a belief in our own success. Tai Chi is helping us realize these goals through flowing movements for relaxation, focus, and concentration.
Michelle Broady, PE teacher at PS 45 in Brooklyn, NY has taught Tai Chi to the whole student body. They have done it simultaneously with the music over the PA system as part of the ACES program. One fifth grade teacher now does Tai Chi Moves every morning with his whole class. Every student in this class is in the top third of all students in this Grade A school. They are so proud. Ms Broady has taught Tai Chi in day care, in the scouting program and finds it particularly beneficial in the Modified Education classes. Not only do the kids love it, but it helps in transition from lunch or between different activities.
Tai Chi Moves (see Tai Chi for Kids) can be used as part of the State mandated minutes of physical activity in the classroom or in PE.
Meditation helps kids pay attention, leading researcher says. About 200 students at four elementary schools have used breathing techniques to hard-wire their brains to improve their ability to focus on their work. "It's so widely popular and successful, the district wants us to scale it up the entire (Madison) school system."
MentorOhana started in 2003 on the Garden Island of Kaua'i as an online empowerment tool for teens. It has been used to create personal assessments from thousands of teens and adults over the years as a way to empower individuals to make good decisions. Through its Tracking tools, a Member can follow their development over time and see patterns and how their choices affect their lives.
Information and Meditation -- Improving attention in the digital-age
In the University of Washington Information and Contemplation class, participants scrutinize their use of technology: how much time they spend with it, how it affects their emotions, how it fragments their attention. They watch videos of themselves multitasking and write guidelines for improving their habits. They also practice meditation—during class—to sharpen their attention.
(UC Davis, The California Aggie) Maintaining homeostasis in the body is perhaps the single most important factor related to health. Homeostasis is created through focus, calmness and opening of internal circulation through breath, blood, lymph and body heat. As these bodily systems begin to regulate, there is of course nothing wrong with hittin' the treadmill. The heart is just one organ (albeit an important one) that stays in shape through cardiovascular activity. However, there are multiple organs in the body that require upkeep. More.
Tai Chi Kicks Students' Taoism into Shape What started as a six-person class over 15 years ago has grown into a 60 or 100 student waitlisted course, making it one of the most popular classes taught at Carleton.