Qi Gong Improves BreathingMaster Teresa Yeung April 1, 2005
Relief from Asthma, Seasonal Allergies, Migraines, and Chronic Aches and Pains
There’s an ancient Chinese saying: “If you have nose congestion, your lung is not well.”
In the Chinese medicine system each organ has to be balanced such that the Qi (body life force) can connect with the other organs and render the whole body as a holistic system. In other words, it is not possible to deem one organ or body part as an isolated problem without considering the whole body system. The life force (Qi) is in the blood. Qi needs blood to nourish it and blood needs Qi to move it. So in order to improve our blood circulation, we will have to improve the Qi in our blood.
A great way of improving our Qi is by practising the Chinese ancient healing art of Qi Gong. A major part of Qi Gong focuses on relaxation, breathing with mind control using certain postures like sitting or standing, and gentle movements to perform an internal exercise.
My teacher, Qi Gong Master Weizhao Wu, age 71, always says to his students, “When the body has aches and pains, you can say that a specific area has Qi blockages or that we have “bad Qi” in that area. It is important to improve blood circulation to open up Qi blockages in our body. These blockages build up when the body is under stress. Whatever part is low in Qi, that area may have blockages and may also be the root of our health problems. In the case of a person suffering from breathing problems like asthma, there may be Qi blockages in the lungs, trachea or nose. We must clean our insides from bad Qi. When this negative force is removed from the body, the body feels better and health improves.”
Medical science has done research on Qi Gong, and a number of video documentaries have been aired on television over the years showing how Qi Gong is used to heal various health problems.
My teacher has over 60 years experience in Qi Gong, Tai Chi and Wushu (Kung Fu). He has spent over 20 years in research studies at Chinese Qi Gong research centres, hospitals and schools. He led a 100-person medical team to conduct thousands of medical case studies. Since then he has written research theses that were nationally published. They are entitled: “Use of Qi Gong in 311 Clinical Cases of Disease” and “Use of Qi Gong to Prevent Myopia.”
As traditional Qi Gong is long and complicated to learn and master, Master Wu has now created 23 kinds of medical Qi Gong styles to help various health problems. Some general styles that are suitable for every condition only require 10 to 20 minutes a day to practice. In a personal session with Master Wu he sends us powerful Qi and teaches us movements that are relevant for our health needs.
Master Wu always explains to us that according to research studies, a normal body’s capillaries are operating at 50-60% capacity, or 70-80% (maximum) for people with better health. That is why some people’s facial colour may be pale because capillaries are not quite open. If we can improve the opening of our capillaries, we will improve blood circulation. Areas of the body that normally receive less blood will begin to receive more during a Qi Gong practice. This brings nutrients, oxygen, antibodies, T-cells to all areas of the body. This “improved blood circulation” is at the heart of Qi Gong theory. All disease has its origins in the blood circulation. Any health problems will benefit from an improvement of blood circulation.
The lung breathes in oxygen, which is essential for the body to function properly. The body needs oxygen to survive. The heart relies on oxygen to beat and pump blood. A normal person breathes in about 16 to 18 breaths per minute. Beginners to Master Wu’s Qi Gong learn how to relax and work breathing slower by doing about four breaths per minute. This slower breathing practice will allow us to take more oxygen into the lung. For senior students, they work on even slower breathing like two breaths per minute.
During Qi Gong practice, besides bringing more oxygen in the body, we are also collecting more life force — Qi — to store in our body. It may be said that we are making more Qi. Actually it often takes people by surprise how “hot” they can get by simply doing a few hand movements. Master Wu says that when we practice regular physical exercise like running, basketball, swimming, etc., we use up a lot of physical energy and indirectly our internal organs benefit. The return of Qi is less. On the contrary, when we practice Qi Gong exercise, we use up very little physical energy. We relax in our movements and in return, we can get a lot of Qi giving more direct benefits to the organs. When we want the body to heal, we have to conserve our energy, our Qi, so that the body can use the Qi to heal our problems. A person with difficult health challenges really needs to conserve the Qi and practice less physical exercise sometimes so that the body can catch up with the healing. When you are better, you can engage in more physical exercises again. Besides practising Qi Gong, Master Wu also teaches us how to follow a healthy diet, and benefit from balanced emotions and the proper amount of physical activity and rest.
I would say that Qi Gong is best used as a preventive and strengthening wellness tool, much like exercise. I began when I was 38 years old. Almost 10 years later I am much stronger than before. I used to catch a cold almost every month. I had digestive problems and a lot of allergies to airborne and food allergens. I woke up every morning with a lot of mucus and coughed a lot as well as having different body pains like migraines, back pain, etc. At that time, I had been seeing a chiropractor for almost 10 years for neck and lower back pain since I had my first child. As well, I could not stay near a cat for more than a few minutes as I had strong allergic reactions to cat fur. After practising Qi Gong for a year, surprisingly I could stay near a cat for over an hour before I started to have allergic reactions. Now after practising for almost 10 years, I can stay near cats for a whole day and have no problem. Additionally my yearly hayfever has almost totally disappeared. It is astonishing how the body can release its pain. My whole body is so much better and stronger and gives me incredible strength and healing power and a youthful appearance.
My eldest daughter, Rebecca, has practised Qi Gong since she was about 10 years old. She was suffering from asthma from 3 years of age. She wheezed at night and coughed frequently. She needed to carry a puffer (asthma medication) for use in school. She would start coughing from running a short distance catching her breath. After practising Qi Gong for about a year, she gradually did not need her puffer and the asthma disappeared.
I also know of a professional woman who suffered from chronic asthma. After a few months time, learning a few of Master Wu’s Qi Gong styles and receiving external Qi healing sessions, she had much fewer asthma attacks and did not have to use her emergency puffer as much. Her continued self-practising has helped her tremendously in taking charge of the asthma.
QI GONG EXERCISES TO IMPROVE BREATHING
I would like to introduce a short Qi Gong movement extracted from “Master Wu’s Qi Gong Style to Improve Breathing” which is useful to open our lungs and create Qi. (If you cough during practice, it is an indication that stagnant Qi is releasing from your body.)
Position: You can choose to stand or sit. If you prefer to sit to do this exercise, you will sit with your legs sticking out one third over the edge of the chair. Open legs to shoulder width, legs parallel to each other, palms facing up, rest hands on legs near to knees. Position your head level, chin slightly in, waist straight, relax back/chest/waist, and put tongue near palate. Eyes look far ahead and close eyes lightly.
If you stand, you can open the leg to shoulder position, gently turn toes in and slightly bend knees.
Relax the whole body: Inhale with the nose, breathe in slightly. Exhale and relax your head. Continue to relax your neck, shoulder, chest, abdomen, back, arms, hands, fingers, legs, feet and toes using the same method. Then think about relaxing your whole body from head to toes three more times.
Open and close arms exercise: Bring arms in front of the body up to about shoulder height. Inhale and open arms out wide to a “T” (as in photo on page 54), exhale as you close the arms in front of the body. Exhale well. You can repeat 8 to 36 times.
At the end of practice, please open arms and visualize gathering lots of Qi, and then close hands over navel. (For women, put right hand under left. For men, put left hand under right.) It is essential to collect Qi at the end of practices so that we can store Qi into our body like storing money in our bank.
You can do these movements twice daily. Remember that by simply opening up your arms you are improving the Qi in your chest.
You may be concerned about someone with certain health conditions like asthma, or maybe you are the person who has a problem and is hoping to get it under control. With the right Qi Gong practice that you gain from learning from a Qi Gong Master, you may come to learn how to manage these problems. You may find that your difficult days are few and far between as you realize how much you can actually improve by practising daily. Like asthma, your symptoms of wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath and mucus may gradually decrease with time.
I recommend anyone and everyone to take the initial step and try one of Master Wu’s classes, and make Qi Gong practice part of your everyday life. It could be one of the best things you can do for your health!