It took years together for yoga to become a billion-dollar industry as it stands today! There is no denial that it might take even more time for Qigong to match the pace of yoga and in due course of time, even overpower yoga and reach its position one day. Qigong? Weird name? Am I talking about the right stuff? You must be thinking by now that I must be insane to quote Qigong to be bigger than yoga sometime. It might sound crazy, bitter or even childish, but what is the truth?
Qigong is deep-rooted as a traditional Chinese exercise form and is similar to another famous Chinese exercise form, Tai Chi. ‘Qi’ in the word Qigong translates to energy which in combination with our mind and body creates a balance in the human body. ‘Gong’ roughly means mastery and Qigong literally means ‘mastery of your energy’. Our body and mind accumulate negative energy by means of stress, illness, lifestyle, eating habits and so on. When we bring in positive qi (or energy) by practicing Qigong, this expels the negative energy from the body promoting the flow of good energy vibes and blood throughout our body.
Qigong basically involves generating awareness of your own breathing, realizing your positive energy and practicing sets of slow and coordinated movements. In short, meditation (energy), breathing and movement are an indispensable part of every Qigong session which focuses on ultimate well-being. One can become aware of his/her breathing only when the mind is without thoughts and the focus is completely on the air that goes in and comes out. Relax yourself, don’t allow outside thoughts to interrupt you and assume it to be a meditation of sorts.
The first step is to feel the energy by following the instructor’s instructions before proceeding to movements. Once you feel the energy in some form (a tingling feeling or a warm overall body shrug) it is advisable to proceed to the movements part. If an individual starts practising movements before realizing the energy, it is of sheer waste as the ultimate goal of the program is lost. The movements involved are very slow and can be practiced even by an 80-year-old individual.
A study conducted in 2012 on a group of women found that Qigong improves chronic fatigue and mind wellness. Another study in 2017 found that Qigong can reduce depression among women with chronic fatigue. These women were seen to grow positive as they continued practicing Qigong, became less obsessed with their suffering and were ready to come out of their shell. Researchers at Harvard University are exploring the possibility of aiding Parkinson’s disease-affected individuals with their depression and motor function.
There are also various studies at various levels of research probing onto the benefits of Qigong on the nervous, endocrine, cardiovascular, excretory, skeletal, lymphatic, circulatory and digestive system.
Practicing Qigong involves expelling negativities and this includes flushing out impurities that have accumulated over a long period. Some people might experience few reactions when unhealthy energy goes out of the body and once all these impurities leave, the individual is said to possess better health and well-being.
Some people experience sweating, flu-like symptoms, discharge, vomiting, diarrhea, cough, eye discharge, fever, perspiration, emotional symptoms and mental reactions too. One vital thing here is to continue practicing Qigong despite these reactions and also stay calm and composed during this phase. Understanding that this is only a temporary phenomenon can help one get through the thick and thin of things easily.
Can Qigong Surpass Yoga?
Yoga and Qigong involve different postures and movements, but both uses breathing techniques for energy. One cannot judge the better of the two and one should not compare also as each provide the user with a set of benefits independently.
One cannot gauge between the better of the two as both are great for the mind and body. Both lead to the same result of well-being and longevity and only the approach taken is different. Choose what suits best for you and attain maximum benefits pursing the chosen path.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.