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3 Qigong-Inspired Home Workouts for Women and Men to Improve Health

Qigong-based workouts for women and men centre on calmness and deep breathing. These exercises encourage proper blood and qi circulation.

Woman performing qigong outdoors

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) qi (气) is a term for a person’s life force and is an underlying principle of the medical system. Gong (or kung, 功) has multiple definitions, including mastery, achievement, and result. A combination of these words describes systems that nurture and maintain life energy for overall health and wellness. 

Want to achieve health and balance in your life? Try these modified versions of Qigong in the comfort of your own space.   

What are Some of the Best Qigong-Inspired Workouts for Women and Men? 

A type of moving meditation, Qigong comprises slow movements, deep diaphragmatic breathing, and a calm and focused mind. Doing this will enable you to visualise guiding qi through your entire being.

The Five Animal Play System

Group of women and men performing the “bird” qigong movement outdoors
One of the Qigong sequences in the “Five Animal Play” system requires you to mimic the movement of a bird that’s about to take flight.

A famous TCM physician named Hua Tuo developed movements that mimicked five animals – the bear, bird, deer, monkey, and tiger. The moves are supposed to stimulate healthy digestion, and nutrient absorption and encourage proper blood circulation. 

Each practice in the Five Animal play (Wu Qin Xi, 五禽戏) involves the coordination of breathing, awareness, and fluid yet choreographed movements. These exercises are dynamic in nature.

The “bear” 

Sway your waist from side to side as you step heavily to the left and right like a bear. Then, stand straight while cracking your joints. 

The “bird” 

Take a deep breath and hold it. Bow your body forwards and raise your head like a bird that’s ready to take flight.

Lift your arms slightly above your head. With your fingers, gently stroke your forehead down to your nose and tap the crown.

The “deer” 

Start by raising your head and turning it side to side like a wary deer. As you do so, ensure that your body is moving in the opposite direction and your eyes are looking downward.

Hold your breath and clench your fists. Stretch your body as far as possible and jump while tiptoeing.

The “monkey” 

Holding your breath, position your body like a monkey climbing a tree. Stretch out a hand as if you’re grasping for fruit while raising one leg.

Twist the raised leg to the other side of your body, holding your breath until a sweat appears. 

A group of people practising qigong in a park.
Combining movements and breathing is key in Qigong.

The “tiger” 

To perform this move that mimics a tiger, take a deep breath and clench your fists. Looking down, swing both fists repeatedly from left to right, and vice versa.

Next, stretch your body and raise your arms slowly and as if you’re lifting a heavy object. Inhale slowly. 

The Eight Pieces of Brocade System 

Also called Ba Duan Jin (八段锦, The Eight Treasures), the routine features eight exercises that target individual meridians and body areas. These are:  

  • Twin Hands Supporting the Heavens: Stimulates the Triple Burner (san jiao) meridian through an upward movement of your hands. 
  • Drawing the Bow to Shoot the Eagle: Targets the Kidneys and Spleen through the act of drawing an arrow while in a horse stance 
  • Separate Heaven and Earth: Activates the stomach using a technique similar to Twin Hands Supporting the Heavens but with your hands constantly switching. 
  • Wise Owl Gazes Backwards: Requires you to stretch your neck from left to right. 
  • Sway the Head and Shake the Tail: Removes Heart Fire and regulates the Heart and Lungs by placing your hands on your thighs with the elbows facing out and twisting your body to glance backwards. 
  • Two Hands Hold the Feet to Strengthen the Kidneys and waist: Transitions from an upward stretch to a forward bend while holding your toes. 
  • Clench the Fists and Glare Fiercely: Increases vitality and muscle strength through a side-to-side or forward punching motion. 
  • Bouncing on the Toes: Promotes smooth qi flow when you push upwards from your toes in a rocking motion 

The Six Healing Sounds System 

Synchronising movement and breathing techniques to specific sounds is the fundamental principle of this Qigong-inspired exercise. Five out of the six syllables – (嘘), (), (), (呬), and  () are pronounced on a sustained and levelled tone. The sixth tone, chuī (吹), can be pronounced in a sustained, quick, or forceful manner. 

Exhale gently and use the right mouth form, paying attention to airflow and how you pronounce each syllable. Focus on combining regressed breathing – inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth – and physical movement. 

This helps relax your mind and body and improves blood and qi circulation by dredging the Renmai vessel

How Herbal Remedies Boost Home Workouts for Women and Men

Whole and sliced American ginseng roots on a wooden surface
American ginseng can help replenish a loss of yin and qi from heavy breathing and sweating.

Herbal formulas and ingredients can provide supplementary benefits before, during and after these workouts. 

Dang Gui Si Ni Tang (当归四逆汤), sub-erect Spatholobus stem (鸡血藤) and Astragalus (huang qi, 黄芪) warms and nourishes the muscles, sinews and joints by boosting blood and qi circulation. These will provide you with better stamina, mobility and flexibility during a workout. Increased rates of breathing and sweating can lead to a loss of yin and qi. These forces can be replenished by taking Sheng Mai San (生脉散), American ginseng (xi yang shen, 西洋参), Chinese yam (huai shan, 山药), and mulberries (sang shen, 桑葚) during a workout.” 

Real Health Medical Senior Physician Brandon Yew

Dampness, Heat, Wind, Blood Stasis and Qi Stagnation may accumulate in your body after exercise. The use of Shen Tong Zhu Yu Tang (身痛逐瘀汤) and coix seeds (yi yi ren, 薏苡仁) can help dispel these pathogenic factors.

Drinking a whey protein blend made from peas, soybeans, pumpkin seeds, Chinese yam, and hawthorn extract will encourage muscle recovery through the absorption of protein. Herbal remedies like Huang Qi Gui Zhi Wu Wu Tang (黄芪桂枝五物汤) and Yi Guan Jian (一贯煎) also have the same effect while nourishing your muscles, sinews, and joints. These formulas may also be used to replenish qi and yin.

Combining Qigong-like workouts for women and men and herbal remedies will keep you healthy while maintaining your mobility. Do consult a qualified traditional medicine practitioner before taking any herbs. It‘ll help you identify herbal remedies that will give you the most benefits without undesirable side effects. 

Share this article with someone who’s interested in Qigong today.

References

  1. Wikipedia. Qigong. [online] [Accessed 22 October 2022] 
  2. Shen Nong. Five-animal Play (Wu Qin Xi). [online] [Accessed 22 October 2022] 
  3. Wikipedia. Baduanjin qigong. [online] [Accessed 22 October 2022] 
  4. Wikipedia. Liu Zi Jue. [online] [Accessed 22 October 2022] 
  5. Sage Journals. Mind–Body Health Technique Liu Zi Jue: Its Creation, Transition, and Formalization [online] [Accessed 8 February 2023]
     

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