What is the best beginner Qigong for Seniors? Don’t hold your breath.
Seriously. Don’t hold your breath. Look down at your stomach after you read this sentence. You should see a gentle expansion of your stomach and upper chest as you inhale, and as you exhale you should see your stomach withdraw inward, away from its previous extended position. As infants, we naturally breathe this way. As we become older, we not only reverse this process of breathing, but we also breathe less from our lower stomach area, and more from our upper chest, also known as shallow breathing. For seniors who are less active, the focus on proper breathing is important as the inner conditioning of the body plays a great role in longevity, healing, and wellness in their lives. Qigong begins with proper deep breathing and is a great way to put the vital force of the breath into useful practice, as was mentioned in this previous post for beginners. With gentle movements to tone and revitalize the inner organs, ever inch of the body is positively affected by Qigong practice. The best beginner qigong for seniors is to start with learning proper deep breathing which will facilitate the circulation and energizing of your inner qi, or life force energy.
What is the Qi in Qigong?
Think of your inner qi as inner air or inner light moving throughout your inner body. Or picture the branches swaying on a tree on a windy day. You can see the affects of the wind on the trees’ leaves as they flutter and fly about, but you cannot see the wind itself.
It is immaterial. So too is the qi that you have within your body. As you practice beginner Qigong of deep breathing and movements, you will experience the affects that it has on the body’s inside, but you will not see the qi itself. Qigong teaches us to have belief in one’s self and gives us a greater awareness of who we are.
Why Qigong is great for Seniors
As we age, our bones and muscles loose minerals-in turn they become weaker. As our routines become more sedentary and monotonous, we have less need for our brain’s function of memory-therefore we loose our memory. What was once easy to do in half the time, now becomes more difficult and requires more effort and time to do. The reality is that many of us don’t look forward to aging.
However, aging is a part of life; it is a new phase of life that requires change and acceptance. One of the great things about Qigong is that it meets you right where you are. If you are dealing with illnesses as a senior, Qigong can be used to aide in the healing process. Qigong engages the mind in a meditative state. This engages the brain and helps to strengthen memory and focus. If you are without ailments, Qigong can help to strengthen your immune system and prevent illnesses from occurring. It is gentle and safe and does not cause injury to bones or muscles. It can be done by yourself in the comfort of your home or in the company of others in a fitness center or outdoors. Qigong practice is actually a great way to join a community and make friends, helping you to avoid depression, isolation, and loneliness in older age.
Beginner Exercises for Seniors
The following exercises can be done by anyone, but can be especially beneficial for those in the senior age range for their gentleness on the body and their inner healing potential. Always consult with your primary physician before attempting any exercises. Joining a class that is taught by a certified instructor is the best way to learn firsthand how to properly perform the deep breathing and movements for Qigong.
‘Fierce Tiger Pushing Mountains’ for arthritis pain
-Start with the palms of your hands facing upwards, elbows tucked towards the ribs, as though you are holding a platter. Then turn the hands to point the fingers upward and the palms of the hands to face outward. Push forwards as though pushing a door open and gradually raise both hands upward. Circle back towards the front of your body and lower your arms, returning them to their original position. Here is a video that demonstrates this.
-Results: Unblocks energy centers in the back and arms; eases arthritis and joint pains.
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‘Pulling Down the Heavens’ for heart health and heart disease prevention
-Begin with your arms loosely at the side of your body. Slowly raise the palms of your hands upwards and outwards away from your body. As your draw the arms and hands upwards, imagine holding a big beach ball above your head. Inhale deeply. Next, slowly bring the arms down in front of your face and pause. Finally bring the hands and arms down to your side. As you do this, exhale the breath out, saying “Ha”. Here is a video of the full practice, minus the exhale of “Ha”.
-Results: Improves circulation of blood throughout the chest and clears stagnant energy from heart.
‘Guolin Qigong’ or ‘Walking Qigong’ for Cancer prevention
-Guolin Qigong, or walking Qigong, was popularized by a lady by the name of Guo Lin, who herself was a cancer patient. She healed her body from the cancer with the Qigong exercises that she created. That is the power of Qigong. Now, every person is different and may experience different results in healing from cancer. But in a review reported by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Qigong was said to have “positive effects on the quality of life (QOL), fatigue, immune function, and cortisol levels of cancer patients.”
To view walking Qigong, see this video.
-Results: Improved condition if diagnosed with cancer; cancer healing.
There are many conditions in addition to the ones mentioned that seniors may face, including Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, and obesity. In addition to lifestyle changes to diet, stress levels, and medical treatments, Qigong offers valuable healing and wellness for seniors’ bodies and minds.
Please do look into some of the links provided for further information and resources.
~Stay in love and in light~