What is Qigong?
Qigong is an ancient system of exercises rooted in ancient Chinese philosophy. They are designed to cultivate and influence “Qi” in order to improve the health and harmony of the mind and body. This is done by coordinating the breath with gentle movements and visualisation while standing and moving through set sequences. There are literally thousands of different examples and styles.
How does Qigong help in Cancer Management?
Cancer has many negative impacts on a sufferer’s quality of life (QOL) not only through the effects of the disease itself, but through the side effects of treatment, and through the impact of the emotional distress that most cancer patients experience.
The practice of Qigong has been shown to have helpful effects on those who suffer from complex chronic health problems and there is now plenty of evidence to show that Qigong exercise has a useful role in supportive cancer care. It is associated with significant improvement in fatigue, sleep difficulty, depression, and overall quality of life. When compared to more traditional physical exercise, Qigong practice has been found to have added value in terms of improvements on QOL. Studies in China have shown it can relieve Cancer Related Fatigue (CRF) in patients undergoing chemotherapy and can improve their physical activity level and their quality of sleep.
What does it Involve?
A typical Qigong class begins with a loosening of the joints in a gentle warm-up. Loosening the joints and warming the muscles is generally advised before any exercise as it reduces the risk of joint or muscle strain. In Traditional Chinese Medicine theory tight joints are also one of the common blockages of Qi flow, so it helps to remove these blockages before we begin our main practice.
The main part of the class consists of gentle exercises, moving the body through graceful set sequences coordinated with the breath, and meditation – where we keep the body still and visualise energy movement tied to our breath while standing in a posture of relaxation.
What changes can I expect?
The first thing people notice when they begin to practice Qigong is that it calms them. As stress and anxiety reduce, focus increases, and we begin to feel more at home in our bodies. There may be a little soreness in the legs at first as the standing posture we adopt is a little strange and we need to develop our leg muscles. With practice our stance improves and this leads to an advance in balance and flexibility. Qigong has been shown to improve blood pressure and bone density, and is believed to enhance the function of our immune system.