People say that, at 75, I look better than most people at my age. Maybe it’s because of my posture and the condition of my muscles. My secret? Qigong. What is it in Qigong that keeps practitioners’ backs straight and muscles younger, even in their 80’s, 90’s or 100’s?
Qigong practice revolves around the control and manipulation of the flow of qi; qi, being described as the vital energy present in all things. This vital energy, put into wrong places within the body is believed to be the cause of illness. Let’s take for example, back pain. It is believed to be that the roots of back ache are poor posture, which tends put weight in the wrong places, and the sluggish flowing qi within one’s body. The belief in qi has long been standing and embraced in China, until an attempt by the Chinese government in the 1940’s to establish reinforce this belief with a scientific explanation. The attempt unfortunately failed, but not in vain. Many scientist since then had attempted to lift the shroud that covers the mystery of the efficacy of Qigong in relieving ailments, including back pain.
The central idea in qigong practice is the control and manipulation of the flow of qi, which is described as a form of energy present in all things. Although this belief is widely embraced in China and to almost all martial arts groups, qigong practice still exceeds the capabilities and understanding of traditional science. Effort on making the whole practice of qigong and other Chinese medical practices such as acupuncture fit the Western paradigm have been made, though wide following in the West is still elusive. The Chinese belief in qi “life force” may sound too “Star-Wars” or supernatural to many. The explanation that, in this instance, back pain can be alleviated by practicing Qigong is far off from being acceptable to many; a medical explanation on how Qigong does this is thus required for people to reap the benefits of this Chinese practice.
Based on a study in Taiwan, 82 middle aged women were subjected to an experiment, 44 of which received a 12-week Baduanjin Qigong training in preventing bone loss in middle aged women. The 44 women who received the training showed reduced Interleukin and bone mineral density which are determinants of bone loss. How did the results come about?
Qigong is made up of several positions that correct posture. Standing up, sitting down, and even in recumbent poses. It is also done together with meditative and breathing exercises. Good posture promotes good blood circulation that allows the nutrition that we get from food evenly spread all throughout the body, this includes the distribution of calcium to our bones. Baduanjin movements also train the muscles in such a way that they reduce the strain to the bones and joints. Coupled with breathing exercises that make the lungs inflate the correct way to push the spine in correct position and meditation exercises that allow the body to relax, Qigong is the perfect exercise. Practiced daily, this exercise will snap you back into correct posture after being subjected to awkward poses.