Do Physiology and Qigong relate to each other? One of the most questions we get is “What makes White Tiger Qigong different from the other Qigong?” We cannot mention enough that White Tiger Qigong is backed with cutting-edge science but what is that, really? So let’s dig deep into the connection between Physiology and Qigong. What connects “our Qigong” to science?
What connects Physiology and Qigong?
White Tiger Qigong Senior instructor, Sarah Divine, will explain a little bit about the physiology of Qigong. She will walk us through what’s going on inside the body when we’re practicing qigong. There are a lot of actions inside our bodies as we move, twist, coil, and uncoil during practice. Though we will not discuss everything here, let’s explore a few key aspects to set the scene.
First, we all know that White Tiger Qigong is an ancient Taoist medical Qigong fused with modern science. Applying this modern scientific lens to Qigong helps us to understand what is really happening to our bodies, just as the ancient Qigong practitioners intrinsically understood thousands of years ago. Applying the knowledge we gain from science helps us to experience the results firsthand.
Physiological actions while practicing Qigong
There are 12 major governing systems in the body. Each organ belongs to a system, operating through teamwork to enable us to breathe, move, eat and sleep every day. Because these systems are interconnected, if you have a headache, this is generally an effect of one or more systems experiencing disharmony rather than just a localized signal. Why? The “headache” can be a reaction of your body, an outcome of what was happening inside. Now, for us to be healthy, vibrant, and fit, we need to keep these systems in check, making sure that everything is in tip-top shape. There are a lot of ways to take care of these systems, such as eating healthy food, maintaining good hygiene, and getting a good amount of exercise and relaxation. Qigong of course is what we recommend!
The 12 Major Systems and Basic Physiological Function in the Body
- Skeletal System – supports body structure, mobility and bones
- Muscular System – stabilises body form, and keeps the body structure together
- Cardiovascular system – heart and blood circulation
- Circulatory System – body fluid distribution
- Reproductive System – reproduction
- . Nervous System – collaboration and overall function of all the body systems
- Respiratory System – breathing
- Endocrine System – hormone production and processes
- Immune System – protects body from pathogens
- Urinary System – expulsion of body waste
- Digestive System – digestion of Food
- Integumentary System – protects body from physical damage
Physiology from a Qigong Perspective
So how can Qigong, an ancient practice, be connected to Physiology? Read on to see key physiological changes that Qigong can make in our bodies.
White Tiger Qigong has 3 Core levels in the Mastery Program, which equate to the “3 Harmonies” of Body, Breath, and Spirit. Our teachings focus on cultivating at these levels in order to achieve the result of attaining a flow state.
Qigong in Physiology: Body
- Level 1 – Body: This is where you discover the body mechanics and alignment of each Qigong exercise, plus the essential theory behind each movement. We dig deep not just the theories and history but the forms. With the forms we tap in to the different systems in the body. In this level we are putting our focus in the physical and movement of the forms thus strengthening, aligning and healing the systems involved.
Targeted Areas in the Body
- In Chinese Medicine we focus on cultivating the “qi” (energy). Qi can be depleted, balanced or excessive in the body. When we lack “qi” we feel fatigued and find it difficult to be active. Excess “qi” is no good either, as it can overstimulate our body’s responses. As a result we feel jittery and anxious.
- Skeletal System – Activities are proven to help strengthen bone density. In addition to this, when doing Qigong we create energy. The energy turns into electrical charges which attract the charged ions of the minerals needed in bones. Hence we get more efficient absorption of Calcium, Magnesium, and Vitamins into the bone, where they can get into the bone’s structure to provide more strength.
- Muscular System – Meridian warm ups and other Qigong exercises help open up the joints and untangle nerves. These exercises also make the fascia stronger and more elastic. The fascia is a tissue that connects the ligaments, muscles and organs in the body.
- Cardiovascular system – Along with this system is the circulatory system, which controls blood flow. Qigong can help blood flow more efficiently through the body, so the oxygen has a better flow through the capillaries into the tissues of fascia, muscle and organs. As a result, increase in cardiovascular response.
- Reproductive System – The form from 8 Trigram, “The Throwing the Trash” is good with this. It helps gather new “qi” and expel excess energy which flows to the nervous system. This will help to regulate signs of PMS.
- Nervous System – *Research shows that qigong can help with Brain function. This will maintain and improve bilateral coordination, body awareness, and the ability to focus. In fact, according to a study, we increase self confidence when doing Qigong (*Journal of Dementia Care). Studies also show the effectiveness of slow deep abdominal breathing to reduce stress, which can affect the part of the brain that governs memory and learning.
Qigong in Physiology: Breath
Level 2 – Breath: Combine your breath and movements together to achieve a true mind-body connection, through a fusion of Taoist traditional knowledge and sports science.
Nervous System – When we learn to manage and control our breath, this can bring out a relaxation response in the body. This means that we can trigger our parasympathetic nervous system effectively – the “rest and digest” state. Although the sympathetic nervous system response is essential to be active, we find it difficult to actually switch on the “rest and digest” response. Qigong helps us to learn to do this more effectively.
Respiratory System -The diaphragm is the muscle that helps us to breathe well. When we spend time honing our breath, we increase our lung capacity, thus increasing the elastic response of the lungs. As a result, the lungs become more responsive and work more effectively and efficiently.
Skeletal System – We have Bone Marrow Breath Qigong where we allow deep breathing exercises to penetrate deep down to the bones; this helps cleanse and rejuvenate the bones.
Integumentary System – We have what we call “Skin Breathing”. This is a breathing technique that will strengthen not just the skin but even the organ layers. We have this technique in the Breathwork Mastery course and Teacher Training.
Qigong in Physiology: Spirit
- Level 3 – Spirit: In the spirit, we discover the synchronization of body, breath, and spirit, and we reach flow states, through a fusion of neuroscientifically proven techniques and ancient Taoist ways. This is where your practice can reach an intense level. Laozi of Dàodé Jīng believes that the spirit within you is somehow connects to the physical body. Our awareness and consciousness relate to our spirit. So, if we are burdened with emotions, these will put pressure on our organs. As a result, we feel pain in different parts of the body.
- Endocrine System – This system of glands produces hormones. The hormones are responsible for aging, growth, sleep, and general well-being. Now when we are under stress, we release cortisol into the blood stream. Qigong has different practices and breathing techniques which can help us manage stress.
- Nervous System – During stress, we are always in a fight or flight response (stay to deal with the threat or run to safety). This response is triggered by a sudden release of hormones (Cortisol and Adrenalin) and by where the body’s sympathetic nervous system is activated.
- Immune System – Stress has a 77% negative impact on both our mind and body especially if not managed well. It affects our health and can weaken our immune system. In addition to this, we have the Wei Qi Breath of the Primordial Breath, which is also a powerful way to stimulate the immune system. Wei Qi is the “guardian Qi”, which similar to “immune system”. By understanding how to expand the guardian Qi around you, you can protect yourself, boosting immunity to viruses and more.
Until now, the research of how powerful Qigong can be is still ongoing. However, one thing is for sure, the physiological responses that Qigong elicits are many and can affect positive changes which lead to health optimization.