While stacking firewood, I stopped to rest and admire the leaves on the trees just beginning to turn yellow, orange, and red. A breeze rattled the dry leaves adding a slight nip to the air. The trees naturally transition from season to season—dropping leaves to save and store water for the coming winter. As the days start to turn cooler, we too need to shift from summer to the embrace of Fall.
Autumn is the time to gather—part of the natural cycle of harvest and storing energy for the coming colder months—and like trees, we need to find the best ways to shore up our health and well-being for the coming seasons.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (or TCM for short) encourages us to transition from using excessive energy at this time of year and to employ activities that are smoother, slower, and more about flexibility in order to prepare for cooler weather that will sap our body heat and stiffen muscles, tendons, and joints.
The qualities of Qigong make it a perfect exercise for this time of year: the gentle, rhythmic motions coupled with deep, calming breathing smooths the body and mind by replenishing the energetic reservoirs of the body, which are known as “Dantiens.” The movements increase the feeling of energy while nurturing the circulatory pathways of the body for health and healing.
In addition to the body, the mind benefits as well. Qigong’s meditative character nurtures a sense of self-reflective introspection, too, which matches the seasonal move inward, and helps to alleviate stress, anxiety, and tension—releasing pent up trauma.
But what makes Qigong more effective than other forms of exercise? It is the unique evolution of thousands of years of applied and tested medical principles that combines the deep breathing used in meditation, the gentle movements of physical exercise, and the development of concentrated awareness, known as “shen” or spirit. Qigong is a complete life-enhancing methodology that brings the body and mind into a synchronous and balanced relationship with the flow of the natural world.
On a practical level, though, what are the characteristics of Qigong that makes it an ideal form of exercise?
• Qigong can be practiced by anyone regardless of over all health, age, and fitness level
• Qigong requires no equipment and very little space, which means it can be practiced anywhere and throughout the entire year regardless of the weather.
• Qigong reduces stress and generates an overall sense of well being that is both physical and mental
• Qigong builds muscular strength and increases bone density—improving balance and posture
• Qigong reduces blood pressure and is ideal for healing and strengthening heart and lungs
• And most importantly, Qigong is fun to do
These benefits of Qigong have been documented by Western Medicine and Science. The National Institute of Health reports that Qigong practice leads to increased physical body functionality, improved quality of life, reduced pain, and improved mental health indicators.
So as the leaves become vibrate and our focus turns inward, Qigong is an ideal way to pursue deeply our health, well-being, and happiness. Let the changing leaves and autumns nip in the air be a reminder to be in synch with the seasons in order to maximize our lives.