|"With qigong exercises, you can forget the sweaty workout. Stop treating the body like a dumb sheep that needs to be herded by a head that "knows" what is best for the body. Qigong exercise is about appreciating your body-mind, respecting its intelligence, and giving it love and energy while you are moving it. The body-mind together keep you young and healthy. Qigong doesn't push or stress the body into a hard sweat - it seeks to release stress from the body."|
-- Michael Winn
I think sports and physical exercise is great, it's one way to enjoy your body and explore it's potential. I've tried just about every sport. I am a top skier. I was a professional white water rafting guide, with 40 trips down the Grand Canyon. I've hiked in many of the world's most famous mountains. I swim a mile in the Caribbean ocean every day during my winter retreat. I especially love outdoor sports, as they put me in direct contact with nature's energy field.
Sports are totally compatible with qigong. But none of the sports or other forms of exercise I've tried ultimately can compare to the benefits I've received from daily practice of qigong. If I do a sport, I still practice qigong the same day, as it balances and refreshes me. If possible, I always practice qigong outdoors, to absorb more natural Qi.
Below are the five reasons I find qigong to be a superior form of exercise. The same benefits apply to tai chi, which I consider to be a long martial form of qigong. But tai chi is longer and thus harder to learn. For this reason I've found qigong delivers faster and deeper results for most people.
1. Qigong is a whole mind-body exercise.
The main difference is that qigong is not just physical body exercise, it is a body-mind exercise. The mind could be defined as our ability to shape energy into thoughts, fellings, sensations, or other perceptual patterns.
When you exercise the full spectrum of your body-mind using qigong, a completely different experience happens. You begin to shape energy into flowing patterns of harmony and balance and peace. You connect your body to the sky above and the earth below, and your heart opens up a vast open creative space inside the body.
If you practice qigong in a group, you begin to experience the "group heart" of your fellow practitioners. If you practice alone, it opens a peaceful space in your heart that is easy and wonderful to share the rest of the day. This whole body-mind involvement of qigong is also what makes it a perfect complement to passive sitting meditation.
2. Qigong overcomes our resistance to physical exercise.
Qigong is so much fun, it becomes a "healthy addiction". People love being relaxed while they exercise. Many folks tell me they cannot wait to practice it each day. Unfortunately, most western people treat physical exercise as something that you "do to your body" or to muscles or "to" your heart. They hate going to gym.
Why do so many hate physical exercise, and drop it as the first excuse? Their mind is separated from their body. Hence, there is an unconscious fear and sometimes loathing of the body. The modern top-heavy mind sees the body like a difficult and needy child, that cannot really be controlled or satisfied.
Many modern people live in their head, and just visit the lower part of the body occasionally to get it into shape. They exercise mostly so the head/face will look good sitting on top of the body. Others can only experience their body through sex. Then they quickly shift back into their head immediately afterwards. People engage in sex-ploitation of their own body without realizing it. It's much healthier to have a full time relationship between your mind and your body.
Example: many joggers listen to music as they run in mindless circles around the block. They are not focused on what their body is experiencing while running. They ignore the joy of movement or the exhilaration of moving through space. Instead, they listen to their favorite band because they find their body incredibly boring to hang out with. Exercise is a chore. They resent having to work hard, to sweat to get the fat off their flabby muscles. There is no deep mind-body communication happening during their exercise.
With qigong it's different. You don't push the river, you find the rhythm and you repeat it with slow, relaxed, often circular movements. Different movements open different energy channels in your body. The process invites to go deeper. You gradually find the body moves by itself effortlessly, as if propelled by some invisible energy field. You relax and enjoy a ride on an easy feeling of flow.
3. Qigong delivers better and quicker health benefits than ordinary exercise.
I could go on for an entire book all the health benefits that come about from this kind of relaxed movement. About how ONLY gentle circular movements will stimulate your lympathic system, which is the backbone of the body-mind's immune system. Jogging and aerobics actually shut down the lympathic-immune system during vigorous exercise!
Why would fast exercise cause your immune system to shut down? When you go running, your body assumes that you need to conserve energy. It thinks (in the deep instinctual brain) that you are running away from a bear chasing you down for a meal. Your belly-instinct brain doesn't see your $200 nike running shoes, it thinks you are in survival mode, it kicks the adrenaline on and shuts the immune system. It considers your immune system an optional at that survival moment.
So vigorous exercise is not optimal for your lympathic and immune system. It may do other things for you, and is certainly better than rotting in your chair! Does your heart need the "fast" aerobic exercise? According to Chinese medicine, no. It posits that the heart is already over-worked, and actually needs a vacation. Qigong gives the heart a vacation by getting the Qi meridians and blood vessels of the entire body to take over the heart job of blood circulation.
That is why top athletes have low blood pressure - their circulatory efficiency is so high that the heart doesn't need to overwork. Chinese sports athletes already know that qigong training will give them a secret edge over their competitors, but they don't advertise it.
Does science back up the claim that qigong offers superior health benefits? Please check out the research from the past director of the Stanford Research Institute in the 3500 science studies proving the health benefits of qigong. See Health benefits of Qigong.
4. Qigong gives you more energy than you expend practicing it.
You get more energy back from qigong than you put into it. When you do qigong, you are exploring the natural of perpetual motion. Your body is really a "free energy device". Physicists admit that humans expend more energy than they take in from food, water, and air. But they cannot answer the mystery as to where the extra energy comes from.
If you practice qigong regularly, it is like making a really safe, profitable investment. You get all your invested principal back, plus huge interest. Most physical "body-only" exercise result in a net energy loss. People work hard, they sweat, afterwards they feel pleasantly exhausted. The addiction here is different - it is the need to release pent up or stuck energy in the body.
So even this type of physical workout is healthy for you, up to a point. But consider this: body builders who develop huge muscles often die young of heart attacks. Why? Because as they age, their heart has to feed blood to all that muscle, and it gets exhausted early. The big muscles turn to fat, and reduce efficiency of circulation.
Qigong in my progressive training has you store the extra Qi gained in your bones, tendons, and vital organs - not in the muscles. These require far less maintenance and are part of the qigong secret to producing logevity.
5. Qigong is easy, fun, and all ages can practice it anywhere.
You can learn qigong and begin to feel the Qi flow within minutes. It's really a universal exercise - it's super easy to learn, whether you are 8 or 80 years old. You can practice anywhere, anytime - indoors or outside, even in a small apartment space.
With qigong exercise, less is more. Less effort gives better results - the more relaxed and soft you are, the more the Qi can flow through you. Forget the "no pain, no gain" exercise theory. When you push the river, you get tired of it eventually. Ordinary kinds of exercise can make your body strong, but they wear you out energetically.
With qigong exercises, you can forget the sweaty workout. Stop treating the body like a dumb sheep that needs to be herded by a head that "knows" what is best for the body. Qigong exercise is about appreciating your body-mind, respecting its intelligence, and giving it love and energy while you are moving it. The body-mind together keep you young and healthy. Qigong doesn't push or stress the body into a hard sweat - it seeks to release stress from the body.
Updated January 26, 2007 by