"The practice of Qigong can aid in digestion and weight lose and beyond, in fact it can balance and heal many aspects of the body, promote emotional balance and develop mental clarity. "
Was your most recent New Year's resolution to lose weight by
going on a diet?
Are you frustrated because you have already tried many approaches that produce immediate results, but don't last?
You are not alone. Many people suffer from cyclical and frustrating weight fluctuations because dieting fights against the inner desires of the body and involves eating habits that are not sustainable. They usually involve altering food intake without increasing self-awareness. You radically change food intake and often eliminate the foods you like and possibly need. Diet trends are created by external authorities that do not encourage a person to discover what is best for them.
Qigong presents a sustainable and self-directed approach. Chris Fernie, a Qigong master and founder of the Institute for Internal Transformation, explains, "Instead of inhibiting your dietary needs, Qigong practice cultivates knowledge of who you are and how your body works. This knowledge reveals how the body regulates itself so you gain the power to control your health and weight. Through simple daily exercises you can improve the rate of digestion, increase metabolism, and promote weight loss."
Qigong, a self-healing practice, has been broadly documented in China to improve digestion and overall health. In the U.S., The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine of the NIH has recognized the efficacy of the use of Qigong in maintaining long-term weight loss and is currently funding research to further document its effectiveness.
In Qigong, students learn exercises which combine mind, breath and movement to unify and cleanse Qi -- the vital life force in the body. As Qi is balanced, the systems of the body harmonize, digestion improves, metabolism regulates and chronic problems can disappear.
A vital aspect of Qigong's success is gained through awareness of how the body functions. According to Fernie, "one of the primary goals of Qigong practice is to discover the inner geography of the body in order to develop awareness and control of factors that contribute to health." Students discover that mind, breath, gravity, posture, emotions, Qi and forces of nature affect the delicate balances of the entire system. In the realm of digestion, that means recognizing that the digestive system is tied to many internal and external factors.
We are all familiar with "comfort eating," to mask or avoid difficult emotions. In addition, repeated emotional states lead to long term muscular contractions, which in turn radically change metabolism and reduce the ability to absorb nutrients.
The digestive track is aided by muscular contractions and gravity. Therefore our alignment in the gravitational field, known as posture, influences our ability to properly digest food.
The body changes with the seasons. Learning how to recognize and respond to these changes enables us to maintain balance throughout the year.
With practice, students develop a deep awareness of the digestive processes. Eventually this awareness allows students to trust their body's wisdom about what and when to eat so they can naturally attain a healthy weight and metabolism.
However, even before deep awareness of the internal states is cultivated, the exercises inherently speed the rate of digestion. Fernie explains, "Many people in today's society do not efficiently digest their food-instead it stagnates in their intestines causing many problems. Performing Qigong exercises can speed the rate of digestion and improve many digestive disorders."
Qigong offers a way to discover that every person can become free to do and eat as they please. George Ohsawa, the founder of macrobiotics, stated that a free man can eat anything. Attaining a desirable weight is not just about the food you are eating, it is about you and your relationship to those things that affect health and digestion. Qigong reaches far beyond weight loss and into a profound transformation of one's own life and often the lives of those closest to you.
Chris Fernie has developed exercises that increase the rate of digestion and help people understand the factors affecting digestion. These exercises, practiced daily after meals, have significantly improved digestion and promoted weight loss in many of students.
Bring both hands, palms facing down towards the ground, to the level of the solar plexus. Fingers point toward each other and almost touch. Gently begin moving the hands away from the body, parallel with the solar plexus. It is possible to sense that you are pulling something out from the solar plexus. It is as if the finger tips are connected to this area by invisible elastic.
Move the hands as far away as possible without loosing the sense of connection. Just before you would lose the connection return your hands to the starting position. Don't think too much about the action of returning the hands. Don't worry if you don't feel anything at first, the less effort you make the more you can feel. Check you are following the guidelines and enjoy the exploration.
Repeat exercise #1 but this time bring the hands to different points on the midline. There are five areas that usually require this treatment especially after eating.
- The solar plexus.
- The point half way between the solar plexus and the navel
- The navel
- The area roughly the width of 3 fingers below the navel
- The belly just above the pubic bone.
As you work on the lower points it will become necessary to change the starting position of the hands to palms up. The change usually occurs at the navel, but do what is most comfortable.
Bring the backs of the hands together just above the solar plexus so they almost touch with the fingers pointing down towards the ground. Move the hands down the midline. It is possible to sense something moving down the midline at the same speed as the hands. When your hands reach the bottom of the pelvis imagine that the sensation you experienced continues through the legs and into the ground.
If you have done the previous exercise well, the movement through the midline will feel unobstructed. If you feel stuck, repeat Exercise #1 at the level of the belly where you experience the obstruction. Once that area feels lighter continue Exercise #3. After some practice it is possible to have a sense of stroking the spine. It is as if the midline of the belly has opened up.
When one experiences this sense of the belly midline opening digestion and metabolism will greatly improve. It is important at this point to differentiate between three sensations representing different stages of digestion.
- The feeling of fullness experienced after a large meal in which the midline feels obstructed.
- The mid-line is clear from doing the exercises but we are not yet hungry.
- The mid-line is clear and we are hungry and need to eat again.
Many people never develop the ability to attain or sense Stage 2 because they cannot differentiate between feeling unobstructed and feeling hungry. Recognizing these three phases can greatly help in regulation of the digestion and weight loss.
The practice of Qigong can extend far beyond healing the digestive system. In fact it can balance and heal every aspect of the body, promote emotional balance and develop mental clarity. With practice our holistic nature is revealed and the body as a whole is strengthened. Through this transformation our potential can be realized.