Qigong is more than just the outward forms that are usually associated with the practice. Real Qigong practice happens inside the body, and involves proper breathing, proper mind state (detached from expectations and results) and the ability to truly relax. The benefits of Qigong are many, but the general practice with the inclusion of specific techniques can dramatically improve digestion, elimination and facilitate weight loss.
First, the core of the practice is natural breathing. This is where the belly expands out naturally when you inhale and contracts back in when you exhale. This is actually the way that children breathe when they are young, before they have learned to interfere with the natural process. We call this natural breathing because it is not a forced method of breathing; we strive to use as little effort as possible. Proper breathing massages the digestive organs and brings blood and energy (Qi) to the area of the belly. This dramatically improves the functioning of all the organs relating to digestion and elimination in the body.
Add gentle movement with natural breathing and you start to improve your circulation. This includes circulation of blood, Qi and other fluids in the body, including lymph fluid (waste products from metabolism). Extra weight in the body generally reduces circulation, so gentle movement begins to bring blood into areas that normally don’t get enough blood. This is critical for the body’s ability to burn fat and turn food into energy.
There are also specific breathing practices to kick start the digestive system and reduce cravings. These are done before and after meals or whenever you need to cut a craving, so they not as much as part of specific “Qigong practice” as much as they are techniques that should be used in daily life.
Another focus on our path to lose weight or to improve our digestion is to restore the normal and natural functioning of your internal organs. This not only includes the stomach and intestines, but also the spleen, the liver and pancreas. Specific Qigong exercises have been used for thousands of years to bring Qi and blood into these organs and return them to a state of proper functioning.
Proper functioning of these organs means our bodies are able to extract the maximum amount of energy from food, and proper elimination of the waste products.
Improper functioning of these organs means we are eating food but not getting all the energy from the food, therefore we need to eat more just to get enough energy for the day. This is highly inefficient, and leads to difficulties in elimination and ultimately a toxic state in the body.
Maybe most important are the Qigong principles of natural eating. Very simply stated, our bodies are designed to eat pure food from the earth. The more natural and fresh the food is, the easier it will be for our bodies to digest them and extract the energy out. Our diets should mainly consist of organic fruits and vegetables, with enough grain to keep us energized but not throw our sugar balance out of whack. Why organic? Any chemicals or pesticides you consume have to be filtered by the body. Assuming your body filters them, this puts unnatural strain on the internal organs. And if they can’t filter them, you are creating a toxic state. Many people don’t eat organic because they feel it’s more expensive, but eating produce with pesticides will come at a high cost later in life when your internal organs just can’t take it anymore. With that said, some stores are carrying conventional produce with a reduced amount of chemicals and pesticides, so if you truly can’t afford organic, look for food tested to have the lowest amount of chemicals.
The relaxed state of mind that we cultivate in Qigong practice is more than just a nice feeling. Western science has found that meditation improves the functioning of the hypothalamus, and area inside the brain. This important area is responsible for, get this, our hunger response. So, for any one who battles with their appetite on a regular basis, the meditative aspect of Qigong will help keep the appetite in check.
The list seems to go on and on.
Typical dieting results in low energy levels because of the reduced food (fuel) intake. Qigong practice supplements your body’s energy and gives you the energy boost you need to compensate for the reduced food intake. The practice also teaches us to become more aware of our energy and what activities waste this energy.
Cultivating a relaxed and enlightened mind while practicing Qigong also keeps you focused on your path to weight loss and better digestion. The road can be long and hard. We set goals and try to achieve them, but they can be unrealistic and leave us disappointed. We need the mental focus and awareness to be patient and persistent while improving our health and losing weight. The meditative aspect of Qigong is the answer for this, keeping us content and focused.
I have used all of the above methods to improve my digestion and elimination, shed extra pounds and control my appetite. The meditative aspect of the practice has taught me patience and allowed me to stay focused on my path towards radiant health and longevity. The best part about all these methods is that once you learn them, they are yours to use forever (unless you forget them!).