As COVID-19 continues to spread globally at an exponential rate, now more then ever, it is important that your health and immune system stay at optimal function.
How can this be accomplished?
First and foremost, we need to accept that the process is a marathon and not a sprint. There is no “quick fix”, no single magical supplement, superfood or exercise that can ensure you will stay healthy.
Rather, it is a combination of healthy habits and daily choices that can make a significant difference.
Modern science and medicine suggest the following effective methods:
- Adequate amounts of sleep
- Nourishing the body with nutrient-dense food
- Staying hydrated
- Staying active through physical activity
- Stress management
Interestingly – yet to no surprise – Chinese Medicine has noted the same recommendations for more than 2000 years. In fact, it prescribes Qigong as the most effective exercise to optimize health and immunity.
So, what is Qigong?
First, we need to establish what Qi is. Qi can be defined in several related ways.
One of the most popular definition is simply energy. This energy pervades everything in existence while vibrating, oscillating, and resonating at specific frequencies.
Another well-known definition of Qi is breath. Breathing is the most fundamental act of being alive. To eliminate breath equates to death, so if we eliminate Qi the consequence is the same.
Lastly, it can be defined as a life force. It is responsible for maintaining all the functions of being including movement, breath, and spirit.
Now, as for Gong, it simply means work or refined skill.
Although multilayered in meaning, qigong can simply be understood as “a refined skill of working with Qi”
How does this pertain to your health?
Qigong is one of the four branches of Traditional Chinese Medicine alongside acupuncture, herbs, and massage. In Chinese Medicine, Qi is the central underlying principle of health. When it is balanced and free-flowing the result is optimal health and longevity, while stagnant or imbalanced Qi leads to illness and disease. This means that from a Chinese Medicine perspective, for a healthy body to function at its fullest potential, Qi must be able to circulate without disruption.
How does Qigong help circulate Qi?
By synchronizing the breath with specific dynamic movements and harnessing constructed intention, these combined skills promote the circulation and cultivation of Qi through the meridians (energetic pathways). This will also simultaneously cleanse, massage, and strengthen the organs as they are invigorated with fresh Qi to further optimize health and immunity.
Get it? Good! Now let’s practice some Qigong!
One of the simplest exercises to begin circulating Qi is called 2 Gate Breathing. In Qigong, 4 Gate Breathing is a standard practice to help circulate Qi. By breathing from the Dan Tian (our energy centre) to our extremities, we are creating a pulse of Qi to release any blockages and stagnation.
However, those that are new to the practice will begin with 2 Gate Breathing to build their focus and concentration.
Begin by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Position your arms by your side but do not allow your arms do not touch the side of your body. To assist with this, visualize a tennis ball placed under your armpits. Your fingers should be slightly spread out, palms facing in with 10% tension in the hand. Next, close your eyes and take 3 cleansing breaths: inhale from the nose, exhale from the mouth as if you’re blowing into a straw. Once cleansing breaths are completed, begin to breathe only from the nose.
Place your focus and attention on the centre of your palms, these are known as the Lao Gung points or the 2 gates. When you inhale, feel Qi travel through the palms, up the arms and down to the lower Dan Tian. When you exhale, Qi will travel from the Dan Tian, to the arms and through the Lao Gung points in the palms. Remember to pay attention and feel the Qi entering and exiting your Lao Gung points.
Continue this exercise for 5-10 mins.
Daily practise of this routine is highly recommended for maximum results.
Meet the “Organ clock”!
In Traditional Chinese Medicine theory, the 24 hours of the day are viewed as increments of time and every two-hour frame is associated with a specific organ. These times signify that Qi is circulating at its greatest capacity in the meridian to its respective organ.
So, what does this have to do with your health and immunity?
Everything! However, for the sake of time, let’s focus on sleep and hydration.
Knowing that sleep plays an important role in our health, according to the organ clock the gallbladder and liver start to regulate your qi from 11 pm – 1 am. This means you should aim to be in bed before this time frame to allow the body to sleep, enhance cellular repair, and generate blood cells.
As for hydration, the large-intestine “wakes up” between 5 am -7 am, meaning you should also be getting your day started. This is the most ideal time frame to start the hydration process with a warm cup of water, as this allows the large intestine to begin its process of elimination. Simultaneously, it’s the perfect time for gut health, so why not take a probiotic along with that morning cup of water.
We now have a small combination of healthy habits and daily choices that can be done on its own or combined with an existing health routine.
1) Be in bed before 11 pm
2) Wake up before 7 am to hydrate and check your gut health
3) Practice 2 Gate Breathing Qigong
Although there is no definitive method to escape from natural ailments, we still have a significant arsenal of practices at our disposal to maintain our health and immunity at optimal levels. Qigong in combination with applied Chinese Medicine theory provides an effective and powerful tool in the never-ending war against illness and disease.
In good Qi,