Qigong is a mind-body activity that promotes relaxation, centeredness, focus, grounding, and other physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits. The activity combines concentrating on how you breathe, clearing your mind of thoughts, and moving your body as a response to the breath and emptiness of the mind. We sat down with Dr. Shipe to get his top five benefits of practicing qigong daily.
Interviewer: "Dr. Shipe, what is 'Qigong' and it's role in health and wellness?"
Dr. Shipe: Before I attended a graduate acupuncture program in Oregon, I routinely saw a chiropractor for a condition called "military neck." Military neck is when a loss of curvature develops in your cervical spine, the part of your spine that runs through your neck and can result from various things, but mine was caused by one too many sports-related wipeouts and accidents. I was in mild to moderate pain every day from the loss of motion in my neck. Upon starting my program in acupuncture, I found myself surrounded and supported by my like-minded peers in school. We had a wellness mentality instead of continually treating sickness. I had started practicing qigong daily and noted my neck stiffness persistently improved. Two years later, while out wakeboarding one weekend, I caught the tip of the wake "just right" and faceplanted in the water going nearly 20 miles an hour. I hit the water so hard and thought that I would be paralyzed. I made an appointment with my chiropractor Monday who immediately ordered X-Rays to assess the damage. As he walked back into the exam room, he said, "Who have you been cheating on me with?! Not only is the X-Ray free of apparent injury, but also the normal curvature in your neck is restored!" He did not know that I had been practicing qigong daily, restoring the flexibility in my spine like a bamboo tree. I had been protected from sustaining a more significant injury.
Qigong is a mind-body activity that promotes relaxation, centeredness, focus, grounding, and other physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits. The activity combines concentrating on how you breathe, clearing your mind of thoughts, and moving your body as a response to the breath and emptiness of the mind. This is the opposite of putting on your running shoes, placing headphones over your ears, tuning into your favorite music, and running mindlessly, which stresses your body. You ultimately ignore the focus and connection of your breath. You will miss feeling how your muscles respond to every movement. You will miss spending quality time listening to yourself and nature.
Sports, exercise, and physical activity are great ways to explore, express, and enjoy your body and its potential. While compatible with qigong, none of the sports or other forms of exercise I have tried compared to the total benefits of the daily practice of qigong. I prefer to practice outside because it allows the body to absorb more natural chi.
The Benefits of Practicing Qigong
1. Qigong engages both the body and mind.
Qigong balances the mind and refreshes the body. While practicing and allowing your body to succumb to the rhythmic flow of the practice, a unique experience happens. You begin to shape energy into flowing harmony, balance, and peace patterns - intimately connecting to the earth's energy. If qigong is practiced in a group setting, a phenomenon emerges called "group heart," where you begin to connect, energetically, with your fellow practitioners.
2. Qigong eliminates obstacles to physical movement and exercise.
Qigong quickly becomes a "healthy addiction." It is an opportunity to relax while exercising. Western society treats physical exercise as something you "do to your body." Therefore, we lose motivation to go to the traditional gyms. There is a significant disconnect in modern exercise between the mind and the body, causing many people to lose enthusiasm with workout plans. Qigong synergizes the mind-body and allows practitioners to engage in satisfying physical movement rather than something that feels like punishment.
3. Qigong delivers faster, more high-quality health benefits than modern exercise.
Gentle circular motions will stimulate your lymphatic system, which is the backbone of the mind-body immune system. Did you know that aerobic exercise causes the lymphatic system to shut down? Your body immediately goes into conservation mode. Our limbic brain (the part of your brain that manages instinct) does not realize that you are running in your Lululemon leggings and new shoes on a treadmill at the gym. It thinks a grizzly bear is chasing you. Adrenaline kicks in, and it considers your lymphatic and immune systems as "optional systems" while in survival mode.
4. You gain more energy than you expend while practicing qigong.
When you practice qigong, you are exploring the nature of perpetual motion. On the other hand, most physical "body-only" exercises result in a net energy loss. People work hard; they sweat, and they feel pleasantly exhausted afterward. Qigong, in progressive training, has you store the extra chi gained in your bones, tendons, and vital organs – not in the muscles. These require less maintenance and are part of the qigong secret to producing longevity.
5. Qigong can be practiced anywhere and is easy, fun, and suitable for all ages.
Qigong is a universal exercise – it is easy to learn whether you are eight or eighty years old. Qigong exercise is about appreciating your body, respecting its intelligence, and giving it love and energy while you are moving it. The body-mind together keeps you young and healthy. Qigong does not push or stress the body into a hard sweat – it seeks to release stress from the body.
Join us on Tuesday, February 1, 2022, at 6 PM at our offices for a FREE qigong class.