We all have an amazing body that has the innate ability to self-heal in many instances. This is not to say that traditional medicine is not required. But it means that we can help our bodies heal. Think about it, when you break a bone, the doctor puts it in a cast and the body actually heals the break rebuilding the bone. However, in today’s environment, many of us have a tremendous amount of unmanaged stress, reducing the abilities of this natural healer within us. It is believed that over 70% of the visits to doctor’s offices are illnesses due to stress.
This is where Tai Chi and Qigong come in. They are wonderful tools to teach your body to handle and release stress. Tai Chi and Qigong are practices from China that use movement, breathing, and focus to ignite the healer within – our parasympathetic nervous system.
Sometimes, they are referred to as moving meditation. These practices can be done in lying down, seated, standing or moving. They are simple and can be performed by anyone.
Our autonomic nervous system has both a parasympathetic side and a sympathetic side. By understanding the functions of these two systems we can get a better idea of the importance of managing stress in our daily lives. Our sympathetic system commonly caused ‘fight or flight’ activates when we find ourselves in a stressful situation or threatened. The effects of this activation include a rapid heart rate, icreased blood surgar levels, dry mouth, and dilated pupils. In addition, blood flow is shunted to active skeletal muscles (for the fight), the heart and lungs; while temporarily non-essential activities are damped – digestion, immune system. Our parasympathetic system commonly caused ‘rest and digest’ activates when we are relaxed and our body is in a state of homeostasis. When operating in a state of homeostasis, effects include a normal heart rate, flow of saliva, proper digestions, proper elimination, and proper operation of our immune system. When we are continually faced with stress in our lives without tools to release or reduce this stress we find our bodies staying in a state of sympathetic activation. In that state our natural healer within is operating very well.
So with all the multitasking and stress in our daily lives; how do we learn to activate our parasympathetic nervous system. It has been found that the practice of Tai Chi, Qigong and other mindful practices we can activate the parasympathetic system within a few minutes. The more you practice, the faster you can enter this wonderful state.
Tai Chi and Qigong have been proven to:
Provide Stress Relief - By activating the parasympathetic system it induces a relaxed, meditative state that helps to relieve stress.
Improve Balance - Emphasis on posture and shifting of weight from foot to foot improves balance.
Improve Heart Health - Helps to lower your heart rate and blood pressure, and increase circulation by dilating the blood vessels.
Boost our Immune System - the movements and breath work increase lymph flow, eliminating waste and toxins and allowing the flow of immune cells to fight disease.
Improve our Mental Focus - Helps to calm your mind by slowing down brain wave patterns and improves focus and attention.
Other benefits that I have personally seen in myself or my participants are improved sleep, a feeling of being in participant in the healing process, improved energy levels, and reduced depression.
What is great about Tai Chi and Qigong is that it is simple, required no special clothing or equipment. You just focus on posture, breath and enjoy the movement. I have been trained by the Integral Institute of Qigong and Tai Chi (IIQTC) that has a unique teaching methodology that makes this practice easy to learn and accessible to everyone.