A massive big thanks to everyone who completed our survey last month. People from all over the world were generous enough to give YHGInverness a couple of minutes of their time to help us out. We had people respond from a huge range of different sports and martial arts ranging from running and cycling to touch rugby and Jiu Jitsu.
60% of all people who responded had trained in their chosen pursuit for 10 years or over. Most, if not all, responders combined different types of training together such as swimming and yoga or stance work and body conditioning. Only one person recognised ‘breathing’ as a form of training though. I thought that this was quite remarkable. Surely greater breath control would result in a better performance? A marathon runner, who runs out of breath, is not an efficient runner. A fighter, who can’t control his breathing, is sure to lose the fight. This seems to be a fundamental of training which is so often overlooked.
How can you train your breathing? There are many different breathing techniques in qigong, most focus on long, deep, diaphragmatic breaths which draw oxygen and nutrients to the base of the lungs. This, in turn, results in a greater concentration of oxygen and nutrients within the blood and a greater efficiency of the organs overall. If the body is running more efficiently, then it shouldn’t need to work as hard to pump the nutrients it needs around the body to the muscles and organs.
There was quite a range of responses, when asked what you thought your biggest hurdle in training was. Some people said that their physical location was a problem. Others smoked or drank too much. Some people recognised that they over-thought things too much and were their own worst critic, some were not satisfied with the consistency of their teachers. Others had physical problems such as recurring injuries, Reynaud’s Syndrome and old(er) age. Almost everyone said that time was a factor in their training and that they would like to spend more time training and less doing paperwork or working.
Believe it or not, Qigong can help with most, if not all, of these problems. Physical location isn’t a problem because Qigong can be done almost anywhere, at any time. You can do it in a park, underneath a waterfall or on top of a mountain, as you might imagine, but you can also do it at your desk at work, while waiting for the kettle to boil or the microwave to ‘ping’. You can do it in the shower, on the train, whenever you’ve got a spare minute in fact.
Drink or smoke too much? Wish you could quit or cut down and spend more time training or just being that little bit healthier? Qigong does so much more than helping to recover from addiction with exercise and meditation. Research has shown that prolonged drug and alcohol use leaves a build up of toxins within the tissues of the body. Qigong helps release toxins that have built up over time, helping your body to heal itself faster. It gives your mind something to focus on when distracted by cravings and, through added treatment methods, individuals are given a better chance to focus on their recovery.
Over-thinking things is surprisingly common. Sometimes it is just difficult to switch off and unwind. It is a product of our society, everyone seems to be walking around stressed up to the eyeballs with work, family, commitments or money problems. It really doesn’t have to be like that though. By simply taking a few minutes each day (perhaps a few more for some people 😉 ) to consciously relax, focus your mind and switch off, you can save yourself from just about any disease that you can think of. Modern medical science relates stress to 70-90% of all illnesses that you would go to see your G.P. for. That is a HUGE amount. Stress is a killer, make no mistake. Stress can also lead to the release of harmful hormones, such as cortisol, that break down the body. Anxiety also interferes with the production of beneficial hormones, which are already in decline as people reach their mid-40s. Qigong and Tai chi counteracts this by calming the mind, slowing the release of stress-related hormones. Next time you find yourself over-thinking something, try a couple of Qigong exercises and see the difference it makes to yourself.
Qigong has been known to help recurring problems and training injuries too. The gentle, low impact movements of Qigong and Tai Chi help to strengthen joints and bones within the body, aiding recovery. The increased efficiency of the bodily organs helps to remove toxins and promotes new growth. The immune system is also given a boost which can heighten the effects even further.
Many people practice Qigong well into their old age. The exercises are easy to do, you can practice them at a rate that is comfortable for you and you don’t need a huge amount of time or space. You can even do them lying down or in a seated position. Getting older happens to everyone though, it’s a simple fact of life that nobody escapes. In a study sponsored by the NIA (National Institute on Ageing) Dr. Steven L. Wolf, Ph.D., and colleagues at the Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Ga., found that older people taking part in a 15-week Tai Chi program reduced their risk of falling by 47.5%. Qigong has also been known to slow the ageing process. Research at Baylor Medical School has found that some cells from the bodies of long-term Qigong practitioners live five times longer than the same cells from ordinary test subjects. Other research from The Shanghai Institute of Hypertension looked at several aspects of ageing. They determined that Qigong is an effective measure in preventing and treating geriatric diseases and delaying the ageing process.
Reynaud’s Syndrome is fairly common and affects about 5 million people in the UK. I actually suffer from Reynaud’s Syndrome myself and I have found a huge improvement since I first started practising Qigong. I find the Fu Jow (Tiger claw) Qigong, that i teach at YHGInverness, of particular benefit. Improved circulation is just one of the many benefits of Qigong.
Time? Surely Qigong can’t help you change time?! No, of course not, that’s ridiculous. What Qigong can do is help you manage the time that you do have a little better. When you practice Qigong and your blood is oxygenated to a higher degree, the organs in your body perform better. This includes the brain. The brain is a highly sensitive organ and when it is functioning better it can perform some incredible tasks. This gives you the potential to improve your life unimaginably. You will easily be able to understand the work load that you have and factor in extra time for training without compromising either. It sounds simple but that’s because it is! Qigong is very simple. Some of the exercises are so easy that you would never guess the exceptional effects that they will have on you, your body and your life.
The last question of the survey was to gauge who, in your life, inspires you to achieve better results. 90% of everyone who replied said that it was someone that they knew personally and only 10% said someone famous who they were unlikely to meet. This shows how we can all affect one another on a much personal level than you probably realise. Just by being who you are and doing what you are doing, you will meet people and change the way that they might think and act. Can Qigong help with that?
Give it a go and YOU decide.
The last Saturday in April (26th April 2014) is World Tai Chi And Qigong Day. To celebrate this, YHGInverness will be hosting a FREE Qigong class in the morning. Anyone can attend and take part. For more details contact Sifu Hepple
or just come along on the day,