By Vera Kulezic L.Ac
In today's fitness world the hype seems to be focused on expending energy and taking physicality to the extreme. While that might work well for some, those of us who do not have a surplus of energy to begin with may end up feeling even more depleted. That is why extreme fitness modalities are not meant for everyone - we are not all built the same nor have equal amounts of endurance. Some can burn both ends of the candle and still feel great because they have an abundance of energy and a strong “yang” type of constitution. But as the average American can attest to - the stressful job, busy lifestyle and poor eating habits usually results in what's referred to in Chinese medicine as "a deficiency of qi" (vital energy) that can snowball into a myriad of other health issues.
The Chinese believe that there is no gain in straining the body, especially if your goal is to promote future longevity. There is a need for balance and moderation in the types of exercises we perform. This is not to suggest that it is wrong to challenge yourself physically because we all know that the human body is capable of amazing things. The issue arises when we don’t make efforts to reserve energy – to “fill our tanks” so to speak. Passive exercises may sound like an oxymoron but it really is common sense. The more energy you cultivate, the more you have to expend. It may not be glamorous but when practiced consistently, Qi Gong (pronounced chee gung) is restorative and a method of self-healing. Commonly referred to as a "moving meditation" it allows for improved focus and concentration but also the feeling of peace and harmony. Qi Gong helps you to focus on the present moment instead of only looking ahead to achieve a lofty goal such as winning an accolade or fitting into a smaller pant size. Those things are fine to aspire to, however life is not just a series of goals to be attained - contentment along the journey is what brings lasting joy. The accolade is within you right now. By synchronizing your breath with movements designed to release the flow of energy you positively affect every muscle, joint, bone, and organ of the body and awaken your innate ability to heal.
As the mother of all martial arts, Qi Gong is a true art form and its foundation is rooted in a strong mind/body connection; the cornerstone of Chinese medicine. Qi Gong is practiced in China as a preventative measure against illness and disease proving to be as effective as receiving acupuncture when done consistently. That is because the movements in Qi Gong are specific to the acupuncture meridians along the body. The idea is that when energy flows through your body smoothly and properly, you are in a state of good health. Recognizing an imbalance of qi or energetic flow within your body is imperative to prevent illness, but the reality is that most people lack the ability to feel "inside their body" and as a result are not experiencing optimal health. However, once you master enough of the practice you can incorporate it into your daily life anytime and anywhere and facilitate your own healing process. Research has shown that Qi Gong can make a positive difference in your daily life as well as your future health. The biggest difference is this - Qi gong can be practiced by anyone one regardless of age, physical ability or existing illness. No equipment, supplements or exhausting regime required. Only you, your breath, and a simple art form that transcends culture and time resonating with all who choose to experience it.