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Qigong is a slow, moving meditation exercise from ancient China dating back over 5000 years. It can be looked at as the science of how the human body works and practices to achieve optimum health. It is also the foundation of martial arts and any other practices as well.

The core of the practice is simple movements while relaxing and breathing.  The movements circulate energy and fluids, the breathing brings in oxygen to increase the health of all the cells in your body, and the relaxing allows it all to work.  Qigong is typically practiced standing, though it can be practiced seated or lying down.

Qigong is made up of two Chinese characters - Qi meaning "energy or air", and Gong meaning "practice or system".   Qigong was developed alongside Chinese medicine, and both have influenced each other.  While Qigong was developed and explained by the Chinese using the concept of "Qi", the practice has also been studied by Western doctors and explained and validated through Western Medicine terms. 

The concept of Qi is closely related to our understanding of the nervous system and the electrical nature of nerves and the brain.  Qi flow and blood flow are similar in concept.  One does not need to believe or understand Chinese Medicine to practice Qigong and achieve great health benefits, though it is certainly interesting to learn about.

Benefits of Qigong

Qigong can bring about major changes in the human body. In general they happen slow, though most practitioners notice immediate effects, such as reduced stress, a sense of calm and general balance and well being.  It can bring about mental clarity and greatly enhance our creative side.  With practice, you will experience higher sense of your spiritual self that comes from a place that is very pure (and hard to describe in words).

The human body only goes into "repair mode" when it is relaxed, so increasing relaxation improves the body's healing response.  When you add breathing and movement, the body is able to purge old, stagnant processes in the body and bring in fresh blood and energy to repair various parts of the body.  The internal organs benefit greatly from this practice.

What to Expect in the First Session

When you first are practicing, it's important to pay attentino to the basics, but relax.  The practice takes some time to develop, but your initial practice should come from a place called "Beginner's Mind" - where you don't expect anything and are open to all possibilities.

In your first sessions, you'll want to focus on letting go of stress and just simply relaxing.  Mentally you will want to "shut off" the mind - it is not needed in Qigong practice.  You might find this to be difficult to do at times - and thus you are beginning to unlock the secrets of the practice.

The practice is based on awareness and less on achievment.  Paying attention to how you feel is most important, even if things don't feel smooth or easy. That's ok. There is no judging your practice, just simply relaxing, breathing, moving and paying gentle attention to your body's subtle cues.

Who Qigong is Suitable For?

In general, older people are more drawn to Qigong than younger people.  Older people generally are more aware of their health, and have a greater need to improve it naturally.  Young people feel invincible, and heal so much quicker that they often don't see the need for the practice.  However, those young people that can realize the power of Qigong will find great benefit in the practice and look forward to a long, healhty life.

In general, Qigong is suitable for everyone, as it's a low impact, "practice at your own pace" type of exercise.  If you are interested in better health and healing your body naturally and permanently, Qigong might be for you.

Like anything (including driving in your car), there are minor risks associated with Qigong practice.   However, if you pay attention the basics, the risk is minimal.

In general, Qigong is not suitable for pregnant women. While there are certain practices such as breathing that are indeed very suitable for pregnant women, pregnant women must be very careful and working with their own internal energy, thus it is not advised for pregnant women to practice.

People with major medical conditions and difficulty breathing might find Qigong challenging and possibly uncomfortable. Therefore, it is advised that all people with any sort of medical condition, minor or major, should  consult their doctor first before beginning.

If you have difficult standing for any amount of time, you do not want to try to for standing for long periods of time when first starting.  Many of these exercises can be done in a seated position, and should be done in that manner.  Take a break.  It's not about achievement, it's about awareness.

How Long Should One Practice?

In the beginning the amount of time that you practice each session is not that important. What's most important is that you practice sincerely and in a relaxed, easy going manner. Typical sessions in the beginning can last anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. It's advised not to overdo it when starting even though you might feel excited about the practice.

REF: Alex Race  www.sacramentoqigong.com

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