If you’re looking to boost your energy and calm your mind, I know someone you’ve got to meet: her name is Qigong. She’s Yoga and Meditation’s less-sexy, easy-to-underestimate cousin — and she’s amazing.
Qigong (pronounced “chee gung”) is originally from China and her name means “energy exercise.” Like her Indian cousin Yoga, Qigong links up the body, breath, and intention. She’s less flashy than her cousin Yoga. But don’t overlook her — those still waters run deep.
Here are 10 reasons why you’ll love getting to know Qigong:
1. She’s an incredible healer. She can reduce arthritis, chronic pain, high blood pressure, fatigue, diabetes, and cancer side effects, while boosting your immunity, energy, bone density, sleep, mood, and balance. She’s even got the studies to prove it.
2. She’s over 3000 years old and still looks great. She’s got gorgeous curves. Unlike the straight lines of her angular cousin Yoga, Qigong moves in circles and spirals: she flows.
3. She’s unpretentious. There’s nothing showy about her. Her movements are slow, mindful, graceful, and powerful. While she’s great at building strength and balance, her moves aren’t particularly difficult, and you probably won’t see her on the cover of a glossy magazine sporting lululemon. No stretchy pants are required to hang with her.
4. She’s energizing. After spending time with her, you’ll likely feel strong and more mobile throughout your day.
5. She’s easy to be with. Unlike her cousin Meditation (who’s awesome, but let’s face it, can be kind of uptight sometimes), Qigong doesn’t ask you to sit there and try to not pay attention to your thoughts. Instead, she helps the mind and nervous system to settle down by giving you lots to pay attention to, like your breath, and simple movements that repeat.
6. She’ll help you relax. She can help tame anxiety and stress. You might even sleep better.
7. She’ll help you get out of your head better than Yoga. Don’t get me wrong: I’ll love Yoga forever, but a lot of what she does is so challenging that it often feels like a “mind-over-body” practice rather than one of mind-body unity. It can be hard to get in touch with your body while at the same time trying to dominate it. With Qigong, the struggle to do it “right” or make it look like someone else’s practice goes away. The simplicity of the movements makes it easy to feel the qi flowing in your body and between your hands.
8. She’ll make you feel good. She’ll love you no matter how strong or how flexible you are, and you’ll love her back.
9. She’ll help you love your body. Rather than seeing the body as something you need to ignore or transcend (like Meditation sometimes says), Qigong encourages you to tune into the body as a focal point for concentration. Your body becomes a portal for tuning into the more subtle layers. (So she’s kind of a feminist — none of that “body is dirty and mundane” baggage here.)
10. She’s sophisticated. She’s got different routines designed to support each system of the body. She’ll even teach you some points that acupuncturists use to get qi to move properly.