Qigong is a healing form of exercise that can improve flexibility, coordination, and overall health. It has its origins in ancient traditional Chinese medicine, in which it is believed to unblock areas where the flow of the body’s life energy called “qi” is sluggish. We need our qi energy to have full function over the organs of our body and to stay healthy, according to the practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine.
Qigong is one way to unblock areas of the body where qi is stuck or not moving freely. It involves fluid and gentle exercises usually done in a standing position. It is a slow and purposeful form of exercise that can be done by just about anyone with any fitness level.
However, is it effective if you are injured or confined to a wheelchair?
Evidence suggests that even when modifying the Qigong exercises to involve people who cannot stand up for the exercises, the practice of Qigong still works. It has been found to be beneficial in people who suffer from multiple sclerosis, polio, and spinal cord injury.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, we need a reasonable flow of qi energy in order to stay healthy. People who are disabled often suffer from a depletion in qi energy, which can be replenished using Qigong exercises. When the qi energy is depleted or out of balance, we tend to get sick from various illnesses.
When we have no qi energy, this is the equivalent of death. People who have some sort of disability or disabling disease suffer from stagnating qi that is not properly balanced. This sets the disabled or injured person up for further illness and suffering.
Qigong involves more than just doing gentle movements. While the movements are a necessary part of the practice, they are coordinated with breathing and meditation—both of which help the flow of qi.
This means that even if a person is disabled and cannot do the movement part of the exercises perfectly, they can rely on breathing and meditation to help them improve their health. Even patients who cannot sit up and are bed-bound can benefit from doing adjusted Qigong exercises.
How Does Qigong Work?
The major elements of Qigong are as follows:
· Relaxation and posture: Even though the practitioner of Qigong is moving, the movements are relaxed and open. The spine is kept as straight as possible with the head gently resting on top of the spine. If you can stand, it feels a though the ground is connected to the bottoms of your feet. If you are bound to a wheelchair, you are grounded through your bottom and if you cannot sit up, you can feel as though your entire torso, arms, legs, and head are grounded to the bed, which is, in turn, grounded to the floor. You can visualize and imagine yourself successfully doing any activity your body cannot actually do.
· Breathing: In Qigong, you practice a deep form of relaxed breathing originating in your abdomen. You can visualize yourself doing this type of breathing. The visualization of deep breathing tricks your mind into believing you are really doing it. Eventually, your breathing will actually improve.
· Very gentle movements: The breathing is deeply connected to your movements. The movements aren’t intended to be very strong or jarring; instead, they are relaxed and gentle, designed to promote the flow of qi in your body. When this energy flow picks up, it stimulates your body’s natural potential for healing.
· Massage: In Qigong, you massage various parts of your body to release areas of stiffness or pain. Massaging just the hands, feet, and ears can affect the rest of the areas of the body.
· Meditation: Meditation involves deeply relaxing in your mind and visualizing the body as healthy and whole. This has a strong effect on qi energy and you can achieve in the physical world anything you can visualize in your mind.
Disabled patients have reported dramatic improvements in their physical functioning after practicing Qigong regularly.
Even things like vision and hearing can improve in those who have disabilities in these areas. There are many research studies done by Eastern and Western scientists that show these benefits to be valid for the injured or disabled person.