QiGong For Anxiety
With the last couple of years being …. Well, let's call it what it is… a “Total Anxiety Sh!t Show”. How are you managing? What are you doing to take care of yourself? This might throw you for a loop, but have you considered trying Qigong for Anxiety?
Do you go to bed after a long day feeling blissful, mentally quiet and at peace? Do you wake up to the morning sun and the singing of birds? Or, does your day look a little more like ….
7 am. your alarm shocks you awake with its irritating ring to start your day. You wipe the sleep from your eyes and roll over and grab your phone to scroll through the Gram to see what new and trivial events have been captured and curated for posterity.
Your eyes sting from the blue light of the cell phone. You stroll down to the kitchen and switch on the TV in the living room to see what’s going on in the world. You are blasted with whining political pundits debating the overnight tweetstorm as you throw your breakfast together.
You jump in the car and fight through traffic, navigating the minefield of microaggressions at every corner. For the next 8 hours, you melt into a computer screen, taking periodic breaks to reconnect with reality and give your eyes a much-needed rest.
You fight traffic once again and then collapse for the evening on the couch bingeing the latest must-see Netflix contribution. Then it’s lights out... rinse and repeat!
Is Modern Technology Making Us Anxious?
Modern technology is a magical thing and provides us with endless communication, education and entertainment possibilities. However, all that unnatural light stimulation is also providing us with endless activation of our sympathetic nervous system.
Our sympathetic nervous system is our “fight, flight, or freeze” response. It is designed to help us escape danger by dilating our pupils, increasing our hearing sensitivity and sharpening our reflexes. This helps us to deal with a life-threatening situation.
The problem is, this is not the state we are designed to perpetually exist in. For our bodies to function healthfully, we need to have our parasympathetic nervous system engaged most of the time. This state allows us to “rest, digest, and heal”.
Most people live out their entire day dominated by this fight or flight perception of reality. Is it any wonder that “anxiety” tops the list of chronic illnesses that plague society today? With your sympathetic nervous system constantly engaged, the stress hormone cortisol is let loose to wreak havoc on your mind and body.
In small amounts, this hormone is a necessary motivator to keep you alive. But a candle burning all the time will eventually burn out. This is where problems such as adrenal fatigue and adrenal burnout kick in.
How can we treat Anxiety?
The yin to this yang is the feel-good opiates of the parasympathetic nervous system, namely serotonin and dopamine. Lucky for us we were born with our very own personal pharmacy of free feel-good drugs. ToFirstall we need to do is turn on the lights.. turn off the lights (lol).
There have been many tools used over the years to combat stress and anxiety. Activities such as meditation, yoga, hiking, and working out. When those don’t do the trick of distracting you from your own personally created hell on earth, there is always the cornucopia of pharmaceutical concoctions created to numb you to the point where you just don’t give a ... well you know!
However, there is a healing practice that has been used for hundreds of years to treat the body and the mind. The moving meditation practice is known as Qigong.
How can Qigong help Anxiety?
Qigong is an incredible healing modality specifically designed to turn on your parasympathetic nervous system by combining soft, flowing bodyweight movements with long, slow diaphragmatic breaths and specific mental visualization. Due to the simplicity of the movements done in a standing or seated position, Qigong practice is suitable for all ages and fitness levels.
You connect your mind to your breath, which connects you to the moment. You coordinate your breath with your movement, which facilitates the movement of blood, oxygen and most importantly “feel-good hormones” around the body.
The combination of mind, breath and body, activates your body’s natural healing programming on a mental, chemical and mechanical level. All of which turn your Qigong practice into a very powerful self-health care program.
10 Minute Qigong Program
This program can be performed daily either in the morning to start your day off on the right foot, or at night before you go to sleep to relax and unwind the tension of the day. This program will be a great complement to any acupuncture treatment and will help to strengthen the results. It will speed your recovery from illness and help to maintain your health and wellbeing, both mentally and physically.
Qigong Exercise #1
Waking up the joints (all rotations should be performed with as large a range of motion as possible, WITHOUT PAIN) This process will promote the removal of turbid synovial fluid from the joints and encourage the body to flush them with fresh nutrient-filled fluid. Qi tends to stagnate at points in the body where we bend. This process will promote the movement of Qi through the meridians and joints, helping to heal degeneration.
Knees - Begin with your feet together, and knees slightly bent. Place your hands on your knees. While keeping your feet flat on the floor at all times, circle your knees counterclockwise until you have completed 10 rotations. Switch directions and perform ten rotations clockwise. Make sure to keep your feet flat on the floor at all times.
Hips - Spread your feet wider than shoulder-width and place your hands on your hips. Circle your hips counterclockwise until you have completed 10 rotations. Switch directions and perform ten rotations clockwise.
Lower back - With your feet spaced wide apart, place your hands behind your back. Circle your upper body counterclockwise until you have completed 10 rotations. Switch directions and perform ten rotations clockwise.
Rotator Cuff - Stand with your feet together and arms outstretched at shoulder height. As you breathe in, supinate your hands (turning upward) as far as you can. As you breathe out, pronate your hands (turning downward) as far as you can. Repeat until you have performed 10 in each direction.
Shoulders - Stand with your feet together and with your arms hanging free at your sides. Circle your shoulders forward until you have completed 10 rotations. Switch directions and perform ten rotations backward.!
Arms - Stand with your feet together. With your arms straight, circle your arms forward until you have completed 10 rotations. Switch directions and perform ten rotations backward.
Elbows - Stand with your feet together and arms outstretched at shoulder height. From the elbow, rotate your lower arms around counterclockwise until you have completed 10 rotations. Switch directions and perform ten rotations clockwise.
Neck - SLOWLY rotate your neck counterclockwise. Make sure to open your jaw as you take your neck into an extension to reduce the pressure on the cervical vertebrae. Switch directions and perform ten rotations clockwise.
Qigong Exercise #2
Waking up the Qi - Using a cupped hand, gently slap the skin over the entire body starting on the right hand. In areas where there is more tissue, slap a bit harder. Once you have stimulated your entire skin surface, finish on your lower back area using a loose fist.
Spend an extra minute or two on the lower back to stimulate the kidney and Mingmen area. This process will stimulate the Wei qi (Protective Qi), helping the body to protect us against external pathogens that try to invade our bodies, making us sick.
Qigong Exercise #3
Trembling horse - Standing with your feet wider than shoulder-width and your knees bent, raise your hands to shoulder height. Keep your body relaxed and loose at all times. Begin by rotating your right hand as quickly as you can and then add in your left hand.
After a few moments, switch to your elbows, rotating your arms like a chicken flapping its wings. After a few moments allow your arms to hang at your sides and shake your shoulders forward and back. After a few moments shake your entire body from your hips, allowing your entire body to be loose and relaxed.
After a few moments of full-body shaking, stop and relax your arms at your sides. You will feel a tingling sensation running down your arms to your hands as your qi settles. This exercise will shake up stagnant patterns of energy in the body, allowing the Qi to flow freely and promote better health and wellbeing.
Qigong Exercise #4
Cleansing Breath- To complete the program, circle your arms out and around the side of your body as you breathe in. Visualize gathering white light all around you as you breathe in. As you breathe out, pull your hands down in front of your body, back down to your lower stomach. As you lower your hands, visualize pulling the energy down, melting it over your body, melting all tension down into the ground. Repeat for 10 repetitions.
The beauty of Qigong is not only in the movements but in the fact that you can use it wherever you are and whenever you need it. As long as you have mind, breath and body, you have all you need to use Qigong for Anxiety or anything else that ails you.
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