From hypertension to heart therapy, the 5000 year-old healing technique of Qigong exercises has been proven to revitalize, strengthen and restore the heart. Also known as Prana, Ki and Shakti, Qi refers to the vital life force while Gong means the ‘practice or the work of cultivating Qi’. Qigong is a healing system that works and cultivates the vital life force using meditation, gentle breathing and stretching. As for the heart, qigong exercises can tonify the heart, strengthen its Qi and regulate the flow of blood and Qi to and from the heart.
About Medical Qigong
So far, there are about 5,000 Qigong exercises or styles recorded by the Chinese government, all focusing on manipulating Qi to achieve positive results. Medical Qigong comprises the qigong meditation and breathing exercises that purposely cultivate and control Qi within the body. These two elements of medical qigong are always present because qigong breathing exercises encourage a state of meditation.
Qigong meditation can wash away daily stresses and worries.Though it is similar to a therapeutic massage, it is much more effective. This technique can elevate the spirit, increase confidence and replace stressful emotions with positive images.
Qigong Exercises and the Heart
In Chinese medicine, the heart is touted as the body’s emperor. Shen, or the spirit of the heart is the Emperor and the element associated with Shen is Fire. Being the emperor of the Five Shen (other organ include the spleen, kidney, liver and lungs), it is connected to the overall quality of awareness, which can be noticed in the energy expressed through the eyes. Responsive, clear and sparkling eyes are signs of healthy Shen.
It is believed that the heart and the brain have direct communication and they also have hormonal link, which helps promote emotional and mental clarity. Such connection to the brain allows us to process mental concepts along with our capacity to judge. Our minds desire peace and our bodies long for order.
However, when we are experiencing emotional imbalance, signs of confusion and doubt surface. It is those emotional imbalances that can influence and disrupt the normal flow of Qi to the heart.
If you are experiencing arrhythmias and palpitations, insomnia or high blood pressure, you can try to employ qigong techniques to improve your Qi circulation and your heart.
There are many researches conducted to support the effectiveness of Qigong exercises in treating common heart problems and high blood pressure. When done together with modern therapeutic modalities, Qigong can significantly lower high blood pressure and support cardiac rehabilitation by enhancing coordination and balance and improving physical activity.
In a 2000 Korean study on the effect of Qigong on the heart, respiration and blood pressure, it has been revealed that systolic blood pressure and the heart and respiratory rates were remarkably improved during Qigong training. Given these results, it shows that Qigong exercises have psychological impact in stabilizing the cardiovascular system.
Another separate study in 2006 at Uttaranchal, India showed similar results. Experts studied slow breathing and mental relaxation as adjunctive treatment for patients diagnosed with essential hypertension by monitoring their autonomic parameters such as skin temperature, heart rate and respiratory rate; and blood pressure. Result showed that even one session of Qigong or mental relaxation can cause a temporary reduction in blood pressure.
Practicing Qigong exercises decreases the demand of oxygen (through slow breathing) and in turn, improves blood circulation, activates Qi and balances your life energies.
Heart-Boosting Qigong Exercises
There are three heart-boosting qigong exercises that only take few minutes to perform. These qigong techniques are specifically effective in relieving constriction and compression that occur in blood vessels.
It begins with proper postural alignments (in standing Qigong exercise). Later on, this can be applied on every daily activity such as when sitting in front of your work desk. By standing properly, with focus on the spine, you get rid of the kinks out of your blood vessels. The blood vessel will return to its ideal position, letting blood to flow freely and unimpeded.
When the body is properly aligned, lengthening the spine, going to the fingers, head and toes will further aid blood flow, release any blocked arteries and take off excess pressure to the heart.
Try this simple spinal stretching exercise to lengthen and alleviate compression of the spine.
1. Sit on a stool or chair.
2. Position your feet wider than your shoulder width. Place your hands firms while maintaining the spine erect.
3. Extend your chin forward and then inhale. Stretch your spine while you lean your chin forward, then going down to your knees.
4. After step 3, bend down your neck so the chin touches your chest. Lift your torso by pushing your hands against your knees.
5. Maintain your chin tucked on your chest until your spine returns to its erect position. Slowly inhale as your rise.
6. Raise your head and look straight. Do it again after exhalation.
Qigong healing key point: Stretch the vertebrae by bowing and arching the spine along with deep diaphragmatic breathing.
Deep Diaphragmatic Breathing
When proper posture and lengthening exercise are applied into daily practice, the next and last step part to focus on is the breathing. Deep qigong breathing is very important to increase blood flow to the arteries. Once the blood circulates all over the body, it also takes burden off the heart. This lowers the stress and tension that build up in the heart.
Qigong Exercises for Life
There are seemingly plenty of Qigong exercises to improve circulation and protect the heart, and the best way to start is to practice proper body alignment at all times to prevent kinks in your veins and arteries. Lengthening exercises will stretch the ‘tubes’ or blood vessels so blood and Qi can flow freely and unimpeded. Along with deep breathing, your blood will deliver nutrients and oxygen that is necessary for every cell of the body.
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