Now that yoga is virtually mainstream and everyone has an older relative with at least one tai chi DVD sitting around (albeit dusty -- and perhaps it's a video tape), can qi gong be far behind?
This begs the question: what exactly is qi gong? Cue a stock photo of a contemplative person, probably a man, holding up his hands at 90-degree angles and peering off with a compassionate but firm look about him. Instead, here's a definition from the International Institute of Medical Qigong:
"Qigong is a combination of two ideas: "Qi" (pronounced chee), which means air, breath of life, or vital life-force energy; and "Gong" (pronounced gung, as in lung) which is the skill of working with, or cultivating, self-discipline and achievement.
Qigong is a mind-body practice that improves ones mental and physical health by integrating postures, movement, breathing techniques, and focused intention."
Articles recently posted in the Classical Medicine Journal highlight benefits of a regular qi gong practice (practice being the operative word here, as all once and future yogis will appreciate); perhaps making time for a regular qi gong class will become the next big thing. Here's some inspiration for that aspiration:
First, new research suggests practicing qi gong can help control diabetes symptoms. And too, practicing qi gong can help regulate high blood pressure (it's in with the "Breathe Deeply" set of recommendations). Perhaps the most dramatic is an article published in the CMJ today which reports on new research suggesting qi gong massage for young children with autism, administered by a trained parent, "resulted in improvement of measures of autism as well as improvement of abnormal sensory responses and self-regulation." This is pretty exciting news by our accounting. Time to learn how to breathe deeply while standing and staring contemplatively off in space. Just teasing -- there's a lot more to it. But qi gong has to be the easiest form of "exercise" ever invented, and it was invented a long, long time ago.
More good news for couch potatoes (ie, most of us): even 15 minutes a day of exercise is beneficial. The excuses are getting harder and harder to find.
No sense in fretting over the inevitability of our need to "eat less, move more." Readers sought out an article on nine different foods that naturally elevate moods for good reason. How about some walnuts and sunflower seeds for that cottage cheese? Go ahead and binge on avocados and oranges. But somehow, bananas in lentils just doesn't sound appetizing.
One more story to check out if you missed it comes from Cuba, whose research seems trapped behind an iron curtain still. Then again, due to a lack of infrastructure and funding, Cuba has liberally experimented with various forms of alternative medicine and consequently, has large samples for their results. Good news about alternative therapies is not welcomed in all quarters of our own country, despite our much-touted freedom of the press. The recent article is about the release of the world's first the world's first therapeutic vaccine against lung cancer. Previously published articles detail stunning results using a homeopathic vaccine to divert a projected outbreak of a vile tropical fever -- not to mention the article about Vidatox, the so-called homeopathic anti-tumor cancer drug developed in Cuba from the venom of the blue scorpion.
Wishing you a peace-filled Thanksgiving and a happy holiday season. Don't let any scorpions bite you -- unless they're blue.