Qigong for Mind-Body Reset
Qigong is an ancient Chinese practice that involves gentle movements, deep breathing, acupressure, and visualization techniques to cultivate and direct the body's energy flow (Qi). The components of a good Qigong workout make it an amazing resource for reducing overwhelm and increasing well-being.
As a somatic practice, Qigong emphasizes physical awareness and the connection between the mind and body, helping tone the vagus nerve and regulate the nervous system. Qigong practices can also help shift the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) from sympathetic to parasympathetic mode, leading to greater relaxation, reduced stress and anxiety, and a natural healing response.
Qigong as a Somatic Practice
Qigong is considered a somatic practice because it emphasizes the importance of being present in the body and cultivating awareness of one's physical sensations. By promoting mindfulness, sensory awareness, breathwork, and movement practices, Qigong can help you to feel more grounded, calm, and centered in your body and provide many benefits of somatic exercise.
Somatic exercises can improve posture, flexibility, and coordination, as well as reduce pain and tension in the body. They can be helpful in reducing nervous system dysregulation, which can result from chronic stress, trauma, or other factors.
The components of somatic practices typically include the following:
Mind-body connection: Somatic practices, such as mindfulness, meditation, and movement practices, help to create a deeper connection between the mind and body. This can help regulate the nervous system by reducing stress and promoting a sense of calm.
Sensory awareness: Somatic practices can help to increase sensory awareness, which can help to reduce nervous system dysregulation. By becoming more aware of the body's sensations, practitioners can identify areas of tension or discomfort and work to release them through movement or relaxation techniques.
Breathwork: Breathwork is a key component of many somatic practices and can help to regulate the nervous system. By slowing down the breath and focusing on the inhalation and exhalation, practitioners can activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes relaxation and calm.
Movement practices: Movement practices such as yoga, tai chi, and Qigong can help to regulate the nervous system by promoting physical relaxation and reducing muscle tension. These practices can also help to promote a sense of grounding and stability, which can be helpful for individuals who experience nervous system dysregulation.
Qigong uses physical movements such as slow, gentle stretches and fluid motions to increase circulation, promote relaxation, and improve overall physical health. These movements are designed to help you become more aware of your body and its sensations and enhance your proprioception or sense of where your body is in space.
Breathwork is also an essential component of Qigong. You learn to breathe deeply and rhythmically, which helps to calm the mind and reduce stress. By coordinating your breath with your movements, you can create a sense of harmony and balance in the body, which can have a positive impact on your emotional and mental well-being.
Visualization techniques are another key aspect of Qigong. You are encouraged to imagine the flow of energy (Qi) through their body, visualizing it moving through their organs, limbs, and meridians (energy channels). This helps to focus your attention and intention, which enhances the effectiveness of your practice.
Qigong Strengthens Vagal Tone
Qigong practice can positively impact the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is a critical component of the parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates the body's rest-and-digest response. Qigong has been shown to have a positive effect on the vagus nerve by activating the relaxation response, which can help to reduce stress, anxiety, and inflammation. One study found that Qigong practice increased vagal tone, which is a measure of the strength and responsiveness of the vagus nerve. Higher vagal tone has been associated with improved emotional regulation, better stress resilience, and reduced inflammation.
Qigong Can Shift You Into "Rest and Digest" Mode
The science behind Qigong's ability to promote relaxation is rooted in its effects on the autonomic nervous system (ANS). Qigong's slow, flowing movements and deep breathing have been shown to activate the parasympathetic branch of the ANS, which is responsible for promoting relaxation and rest. This helps to reduce cortisol levels, improve immune function, and promote overall health and well-being.
The ANS is divided into two branches: the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), which activates the "fight or flight" response, and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), which activates the "rest and digest" response. A healthy balance between these two branches is essential for overall health and well-being.
Qigong practices that include slow, gentle movements, deep breathing, and meditation have been shown to stimulate the PNS and promote the relaxation response. This can lead to decreased sympathetic activity and increased parasympathetic activity, resulting in improved health outcomes.
Join us for classes and find out for yourself how nourishing Qigong can be for your nervous system!