It goes without saying that staying physically active is important for overall health and well-being. However, not all activities provide you with all the necessary physical stimulus to promote all that your body needs. This is when using Qigong for exercise recovery can be just what the doctor ordered.
Does qigong heal the body?
Taking a yoga class is a great way to get flexible. Going to the gym to do some weight training can help you to build strength. Getting outside for a jog can condition your cardiovascular system. However, do any of the three most common exercise regimes cover all the basis? I know what you're saying to yourself right now. "I'll just do all three!" That would be a fair answer. As long as each of those programs were themselves balanced in the application of their specific stimulus.
For example, a yoga program is limited by the exercises that the teacher or you yourself choose to incorporate into the program. I treat countless yogis at my clinic for overuse injuries caused by muscle imbalances, hyper flexibility, and lack of functional strength.
Weight training can help to build lots of muscular strength. But once again, in my practice, I see tons of bodybuilders and athletes who experience lots of joint and muscle pain due to lack of flexibility or muscle imbalance. Once again, the efficacy is determined by the exercises that the person incorporates into their program. No matter how many magazines they read, some guys will just not believe that there are any other exercises other than bench presses and bicep curls!!
"Oh come on Bodhi.... Curls for the girls!"
Of course, running has its pros and cons depending on the distance you run, the surface you run on, the length of rest and recovery between runs, and yes the actual mechanics of how you run, all play a part. I have trained many, many people to run their first marathon (joy oh joy!), and I can tell you that jogging can create as many problems as it fixes.
As with everything in life it's about finding balance. When it comes to the physical fountain of youth, it's about finding a balance of stimulus that produce changes in total body flexibility, joint range of motion as well as muscular strength, and stability. That is no small order! But it is exactly what Qigong practice provides.
Qigong heals the body by bringing it back into balance. The movements are performed slowly and with control, stimulating strength and stability in the muscles. At the same time, the exercises stretch and soften the tissues by challenging them to move through different planes of motion. All this happens while the joints are being taken through large ranges of motion, providing them with nourishment from added blood flow as well as waste product removal.
Finally, due to the full body muscular recruitment, the added blood and oxygen requirements are met with improvements to the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. This benefit is exacerbated by the implementation of an extended diaphragmatic breathing pattern.
Simply put, you would be hard-pressed to find physical activity more balanced. which is why using Qigong for exercise recovery between other workouts is a must!
Does Qigong count as exercise?
The simple answer is "yes", Qigong is exercise. But what sets it apart from all other modes of conditioning is its ability to cultivate, strengthen and harmonize the energy of the body, rather than deplete it. In essence, Qigong practice can be considered body weight or calisthenic exercise.
When it comes to caloric expenditure, it's all contingent on the intensity of your practice. Depending on how intense the movements are, you would be looking at burning anywhere from 300 - 600 calories per hour. A gentle hour's practice could be compared to the equivalent of going for an hour's walk. Whereas, an intense practice with deep stances and complex movements would be comparable to an hour of running.
However, unlike running, weight training, or even other bodyweight exercises like push-ups and squats, it is the healing energetic cultivation that sets Qigong practice apart.
- You could use a Qigong program to strengthen your shoulders while you simultaneously heal any lung Qi stagnations causing your shortness of breath or tightness in your chest.
- You could use a Qigong program to strengthen your core, while you simultaneously alleviate any digestive disturbances causing your bloating, cramping, or constipation.
- You could use a Qigong program to strengthen your bone density while you simultaneously stimulate your immune system.
- You could use a Qigong program to improve mobility in your ankles and feet while you simultaneously rid your self of insomnia.
The healing benefits of Qigong practice are virtually endless.
How Many times a week should I do Qigong?
That's the amazing part about Qigong, you can practice it every day. You could do intense, specific body part-focused programs three days a week to stay physically strong. On alternate days you could do programs focused on internal disease or dysfunction. Maybe once or twice a week you could use your practice to regain balance and recovery. You can literally incorporate Qigong into chores around the house to calm your mind and find a sense of fun in the mundane.
Use Qigong as a moving addition to your seated meditation practice. Use it as an add-on to your weight training program as a warm-up, cool down, or day off recovery. Use it as a dynamic stretch to supplement your static stretch yoga practice. Of course, it goes without saying you could always use it as your exclusive exercise modality of choice.
How long does it take Qigong to work?
You won't have to wait to feel the effects of Qigong. After your very first practice you will feel the difference. I often say to people who have never tried or even heard of Qigong;
"Just try it once and you will understand!"
Every time you practice Qigong, your mind will get just a little bit quieter. Every time you practice Qigong, your joints will move just a little bit smoother. Every time you practice Qigong, your muscles will get just a little bit stronger. Every time you practice Qigong, you will breathe just a little bit deeper. Every time you practice Qigong, you will heal yourself just a little bit more.
No matter if you simply use Qigong for exercise recovery or use it to create a new mind and body, the physical, mental and energetic changes you make, will change YOU forever. Give it a try!