ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE: QI GONG

The Chinese word for vital force or energy is Qi, pronounced chi. Gong means ‘working with’. Any energy therapy is therefore Qi Gong. The phrase is, however, used mostly to define a vast number of sets of movement that allow energy to flow freely through the body. The Eastern philosophies believe in meridians or channels containing energy that supply the life force to organs and systems. Qi Gong is about moving this energy by following particular patterns of movement and exercise.

Qi Gong’s system of exercises, positions and breathing techniques is even more ancient than yoga, originating in China more than 5,000 years ago. Like yoga, Qi Gong is aimed at integrating the mind and body so that a state of harmony is achieved, but unlike yoga it concentrates on moving energy within the body rather than externally. The exercises relate to the acupuncture or pressure points found on the meridians of the body through which the vital energy flows. There are seven basic exercises with hundreds of variations, and all are suitable for health and relaxation. Different sets of movements concentrate on different body organs and systems, and they may be used to alleviate specific health problems such as arthritis and digestive or circulatory disorders.

The breathing exercises may be used to relieve Remedial Qi Gong is taught on a one-to-one asthma and other breathing difficulties. Both sports basis in one-and-a-half-hour sessions, and exercises injuries and low back pain can be healed without are chosen on the basis of the problem or problems strain by the exercises, which strengthen the mus- to be addressed. Ten sessions are usually recom- cles and improve general mobility and flexibility. mended and these will involve general bodywork, breathing exercises and relaxation. You will be expected to practise at home between sessions. People who practise Qi Gong regularly make rapid progress, and invariably find that their health, stamina, energy level and alertness improve, along with their sense of inner power, well-being and joy in life.

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