Qigong and Chinese Medicine
Qigong and Chinese Medicine are ancient practices of healing that originated in China. The practice has evolved over the centuries to become a set of exercises and meditations used for health, well-being and longevity as well as spiritual development. Qigong and Chinese Medicine are now practiced throughout the world by people from all walks of life who seek a different form of health care.
What is Qigong?
Qigong is a Chinese Medicine technique that uses movement, breathing, and intention to release blockages and stagnation in the body. When there are blockages, this causes illness, diseases and pain. To improve health and vitality, Qigong assists the body to reach better health by cultivating qi energy and improving qi flow in the body.
What is Chinese Medicine?
Yin and Yang and 5 Elements Concepts of Chinese Medicine Philosophy to describe our interaction within and without – with our self (mind, body, spirit) and with nature. According to the ancient knowledge of Qigong, every human being is an integral part of nature and human beings are the micro reflection of the bigger macro reality of nature. It is like reality holographically expands outward from a micro human state to a macro nature in constant movement and change. More simply, if you want to view it from outside in, the whole is reflected by each and every part. A very general analogy can be drawn from birth, growth, maturity, decay and death which is also reflected in the cycle of human life. The analogy can be further likened to the cycle of the year, cycle of day, and down to the cycle of our organ network.
Yin and Yang Concept of Qigong and Chinese Medicine
Qigong is practice to cultivate energy and balance (Yin and Yang) to bring health, strength, and vitality. Yin is the life force or energy that flows through all living things and provides them with structure. Yang is itself seen as different from Yin, but also connects two opposites by its inherent regulation of yin. It is like nature in motion where everything has a natural balance in movement; one being more active than the other providing a level playing field for each individual to find its own path towards completion through harmony within oneself.
The 5 Elements Concept of Qigong and Chinese Medicine
The 5 Elements or the 5 phases in qigong and Chinese Medicine describes the 5 fundamental movements or processes. It describes the 5 fundamental movements or processes that we can observe during the constant change of nature and of human life. This blog will focus more on the 5 Element concept of Qigong and Chinese Medicine, which is an inter-connected system using these 5 elements as a key factor in maintaining balance (Yin & Yang) and energy flow within each person’s body.
What are the 5 Elements in Qigong and Chinese Medicine?
The 5 Elements are the fundamental energies that weave together all of creation. From atoms to molecules to the stars and galaxies, they shape everything we see, feel and experience. Through the Five Elements we address imbalances in our organs and organ network as an extension of this whole system.
The 5 Elements of Qigong and Chinese Medicine
🌌 Macro Correlation of Wood
- Expressed in real life by growth
- The energy of live plants, trees, and flowers
- Corresponds to the Spring Season
- Expanding and outward pattern of movement, like a tall tree which is firmly rooted and can sway from side to side
🧬 Micro Correlation of Wood
- Expressed in the Liver and Gallbladder organ
- When the wood element is balanced:
- One is creative and generating new ideas and self expressions are effortless.
- When the wood element is out of balance
- There is a mental discomfort and feelings of being blocked.
- One has an inability to express and achieve which gives rise to frustration and anger.
🌌 Macro Correlation of Fire Element
- Nature’s expression has reached its peak
- Corresponds to the summer season
- Rising, spiraling up, and expanding outwards pattern of movement
🧬 Micro Correlation of Fire Element
- Expressed in the Heart and Small Intestine organ
- When the fire element is balanced:
- Good ability to communicate in unity with all things
- Have content and free from the constant strive of trying to find new joys by fulfilling new desires.
- When the fire element is out of balance
- There is restlessness and agitation
- Lack of contentment
- Inability to be part of something
🌌 Macro Correlation of Earth Element
- The time of maturity in nature at the end of the summer season.
- The movement of the earth is centered, rooted, and grounded. It is solid and sinks down.
🧬 Micro Correlation of Earth Element
- Corresponds with the organ Spleen and Stomach organ
- When the Earth Element is balanced
- We feel nurtured, taken care of, and feel safe.
- Ability to care and have concern for others
- When the earth element is out of balance
- One tends to overthink, become anxious, and worry too much.
⛓ Metal Element
🌌 Macro Correlation of Metal Element
- The time of decay and rotting
- Evident during the autumn season
- The movement of the metal has penetrating, precise, and powerful movement pattern
🧬 Micro Correlation of Metal Element
- Expressed through the lungs and the large intestine
- When the metal element is balanced
- One can breath easily
- Have focus and can easily take decisions with a positive outlook in life
- When the metal element is out of balance
- One suffers from grief and inability to let go
🌌 Macro Correlation of Water Element
- When nature sleeps and prepares itself for the new cycle
- Represented by the Winter Season
- Has flud, soft, and graceful movement patterns. It comes in and out, rises and falls, much like the wave.
🧬 Micro Correlation of Water Element
- Associated with the Kidney and the Urinary Bladder
- When the water element is balanced
- It governs our willpower and determination, as well as our ability to embrace change, go with the flow, and overcome obstacles.
- When the water element is out of balance
- Feel fearful and paranoid
Creative Cycle of the 5 Elements
The photo above shows the creative cycle of the 5 elements in qigong and Chinese Medicine. This shows how the elements support the element next to it.
- Wood feeds Fire by burning wood which helps creates fire
- Fire transforms into Earth through the ashes
- Earth consolidates into Metal through formations of metal deep within the earth
- Metal collects and melts into Water and condenses in metal surfaces
- Water nourishes Wood which is needed by plants and trees to grow
Destructive / Balancing Cycle of the 5 Elements
The next photo exhibits the destructive / balancing cycle of the 5 Elements which is used both in qigong and Chinese Medicine. This cycle shows how one element can balance another element. As this chart shows, it is important not only to nurture and support each element, but when there is excess it is also important to be able to balance each element.
- Wood breaks Earth as roots form deep into the ground
- Earth absorbs Water and makes it muddy
- Water extinguishes Fire
- Fire melts Metal
- Metal splits / cuts Wood
How are the 5 Elements applied in Qigong?
The 5 Elements are applied in Qigong by observing the natural movement of nature and elements. In the 5 Element Qigong and 5 Animal Qigong each element is represented by an animal. The movements that are applied in Qigong were developed by observing the natural movement of nature and elements. The animals used in the 5 Element Qigong and 5 Animal Qigong indicate a particular element. Some are the same, some are different.
In the 5 Element Qigong there is only 1 form per element plus 1 which represents the Triple Burner Qigong (fire element), for a total of 6 qigong exercises. In the 5 Animal Qigong, each element has 4 forms each element. These 4 forms represents the element and an 4 seasons of the cycle of nature (spring, summer, autumn, winter) for a total of 20 qigong exercises.
Wood Element Qigong
5 Element Qigong
In the 5 Element Qigong, The Wood Element connects to the animal, Leopard. This qigong consists of movements that have bend and stretches, much like the movement of the leopard and the characteristics of the Wood Element. The Wood Element can bend without breaking and can hold strong through strong winds and storms. The bend and stretch movements of this qigong also squeezes out the toxins out of the liver and releases excess anger and frustration stored in that organ. Once toxins and the excess anger and frustration are released, we bring in fresh qi in the form of acceptance and forgiveness.
5 Animal Qigong
In the 5 Animal Qigong, the Wood Element connects to the animal, Monkey. First, the monkey strolls through the forest, and then it sees the moon and turns its head up. After seeing the moon, the monkey picks fruit, and gladly serves the fruit to eat.
- Monkey Qigong
- Level 1: Spring Form – Monkey Strolls Through the Forest
- Level 2: Summer Form – Monkey Turns its Head to Look at the Moon
- Level 3: Autumn Form – Monkey Picks the Fruit
- Level 4: Winter Form – Monkey Serves the Fruit
Earth Element Qigong
5 Element Qigong
In the 5 Element Qigong, the Earth Element connects to the animal, snake. This qigong has very grounded movement and low stances, allowing the body to connect and sink down to the earth. Just like the snake, the movements in this qigong have slithering and sliding movements. Through the deep stances, and movements of the snake qigong we squeeze out toxins in the spleen, allowing for better digestion and releasing toxins in that organ. We also release excess worry and anxiety which is connects to the spleen and earth element, and then bring it fresh qi, in the form of feeling nurtured, safe, and grounded – feeling home.
5 Animal Qigong
In the 5 Animal Qigong the Earth Element to the animal, Bear. First the bear hunts and spears the fish, and then it tosses the fish to the riverbank. The bear’s paws get wet from fishing, and then it shakes off its paws. Then, it shakes its paws stronger to clean up further.
- Bear Qigong
- Level 1: Spring Form – Bear Spears the Fish
- Level 2: Summer Form – Bear Tosses the Fish on the Riverbank
- Level 3: Autumn Form – Bear Shakes Off its Paws
- Level 4: Winter Form – Bear Shakes Off its Paws (Strong)
Water Element Qigong
5 Element Qigong
In the 5 Element Qigong the Water Element connects to the animal, Dragon. This qigong has very slow and graceful movement like the waves of the ocean. As well as spiraling and twisting motion, like the dragon. The spiral, twisting, and deep stances of the Dragon Qigong, releases toxins in the kidney, and releases excess fear in our system. Through these movements we open up the body to receive a more positive emotion of courage and willpower.
5 Animal Qigong
In the 5 Animal Qigong the Water Element is connects with the animal, Deer. The deer first awakens and raises its antlers, and then it peeks its head as if observing if the surrounding is safe for it to run free. Then the deer stops running and slaps its leg, before it goes back to rest.
- Deer Qigong
- Level 1: Spring Form – Deer Raises its Antlers
- Level 2: Summer Form – Deer Peeks its Head
- Level 3: Autumn Form – Long Distance Running Deer
- Level 4: Winter Form – Deer Slaps its Leg
Fire Element Qigong
5 Element Qigong
In both the 5 Element Qigong and the 5 Animal Qigong, the fire element connects with the animal, crane. The Crane Qigong in the 5 Element Qigong has rising motion, just like the flight of the Crane as well as the rising motion of the fire element. It is graceful just like how the crane fly. It uses one-leg balance which affects not only the physical balance but also mental and spiritual balance. As the Crane Qigong opens up the chest at the peak position of this qigong, we release any blockages in the heart, and release excess desire and joy. This helps open up the heart to bring in contentment and peace.
5 Animal Qigong
In the 5 Animal Qigong, the crane prepares to fly and spreads its wings. As the crane takes flight it does it gracefully and then flaps its wings and soar. When the crane is content with its flight it descends back down.
- Crane Qigong
- Level 1: Spring Form – Crane Spreads its Wings
- Level 2: Summer Form – Crane Takes Flight
- Level 3: Autumn Form – Crane Flaps its Wings
- Level 4: Winter Form – Crane Soars and Descends
Metal Element Qigong
5 Element Qigong
In both the 5 Element Qigong and the 5 Animal Qigong, the Metal Element connects with the animal, Tiger. In the 5 Element Qigong, the Tiger Qigong has very precise and powerful movement. Much like the Tiger, this qigong allows us to feel powerful and more open. The Tiger Qigong opens up the chest and the lungs, releasing any blockages in that area. In this qigong we release excess grief and sadness and bring in joy.
5 Animal Qigong
In the 5 Animal Qigong, it begins with the tiger climbing the mountaintop. Then when the right time comes, the tiger descends and hunts for prey. The Tiger eats its prey and then climbs back up again to the mountaintop.
- Tiger Qigong
- Level 1: Spring Form – Tiger Climbs the Mountaintop
- Level 2: Summer Form – Tiger Descends Down the Mountain
- Level 3: Autumn Form – Tiger Hunts for Prey
- Level 4: Winter Form – Tiger Eats its Prey
Qigong and Chinese Medicine as a Practice
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