Many forms of healing and exercise have stemmed from ancient oriental practices such as qigong, yoga, or the use of colorful geometric Mandala’s. If you have a crick in your neck, what works better for long term relief of that stress? Popping a pain pill, or getting it stretched out through yoga poses or a shiatsu massage? Many believe it’s the latter because oriental healing has a history going back thousands of years. Yes, thousands!
So just what are these techniques to help you achieve a stress-free, healthy outlook on life? It is possible to learn these ancient techniques and change your life. Current problems do not stop ancient arts from healing, as these techniques transcend time and thought. Learning to heal yourself with oriental healing techniques will not require travelling halfway around the world and studying with a knowledgeable monk for 30 years, and I will show you where to start with this article.
Over 4,000 years ago, there was a body aligning practice of movements based on philosophical thought processes that swept throughout China. Over the years, it has earned recognition as a form of healing and wellness. Qigong, or Chi Kung, is all about aligning the body through the movement of breath and the awareness of it flowing positively throughout the body. Along with focusing on your breathing, it also helps to focus on your thoughts, through meditation. Qigong helps to balance the body, through balancing the mind and soul.
Many people today easily confuse another oriental healing practice, tai chi, with qigong. While both are ways to move healing energy through your body, comparing the two is like comparing the art of Picasso with the music of Madonna—while both are colorful and artistic, the similarities end there.
Qigong works on skill, mastering the art of breathing and focus on mental clarity. Anyone can practice this skill with all the information that has been passed down from master to student over many generations. Qigong requires positive intentions of healing by adjusting your posture, breathing and mental focus in order to achieve your goals.
While this practice is much less physically exhausting than tai chi—it still requires your complete focus. Popping in a rental DVD from your local library will not make you a master in a week. Save that technique for learning yoga!
Yoga is another widely popular form of exercise which stems from ancient oriental techniques. With a history dating back more than 4,000 years, and having a written history of only 2,000 years, yoga is the original health fad. The earliest written account of yogic practices and the healing benefits describe different postures, poses, breathing techniques and the use of mental and physical collaboration.
Yoga is a full body workout that benefits the mind, body, and soul together. Anyone can practice yoga, as there are poses that require physical strength and flexibility, as well as poses that require you to stand still and breath. You can learn yoga in the comfort of your home from books, DVD’s, and television programs. You can also take classes with yogis who offer different techniques and perspectives on the ancient practice. If you are flexible and have been practicing yoga for some time, go ahead and try the firefly pose– your legs stretched over your shoulders and your arms underneath, balancing your body.
For beginners, that could be a difficult move to start with. If you are new, you can start in child pose (stretching our backs while comfortably seated on the floor). From beginner yoga to advanced yoga, you can enhance the difficulty of the poses to get a challenging workout. Kundalini to raise your endurance, Hatha to quiet your mind, prenatal yoga to balance you and your unborn baby—no matter which discipline you choose, you will be rewarded with flexibility, strength, and focus.
Combine this newfound strength with a desire to learn a deeper form of martial arts, and you will discover Tai chi. This art requires you to focus your movements in precise manners, and know exactly how every inch of space and breath of air will be used. This is an anti-aging technique that will not only strengthen your mind, your resilience, your confidence, but also your body. The Shoalin monks and Chinese military leaders developed this martial art and it’s not for the faint hearted. It is, in fact, a battle technique. Yoga may strengthen your muscles, but you won’t win any fights with the tree pose.
After fighting to the death, feel free to explore an ancient form of massage known as shiatsu, or a deeper form of Tui Na, which combines shiatsu massage and acupressure. Where modern massage focuses on the relaxation of muscles, oriental massage practices that release negative energy from the body’s meridians will help it to heal from diseases and disorders which are blocking the Qi, or life force. Massage helps to release toxic substances and thoughts from the muscles. This allows further movement of positive energy to take over, causing rehabilitation, relaxation, and wellness.
Once you are completely relaxed, take a stab at meditation. Using the ancient 3-dimensional Mandala circles will allow your brain to focus on spirituality and release pent up emotions. Color therapy, art therapy, and relaxation through drawing circles and shapes in a colorful manner is a modern idea set in ancient principles. The Hindus and Buddhists used these trance-like pictures to lull people into deep meditative states, to induce healing and train an intuitive mind.
When delving into the ancient oriental practices of healing, one must remember an important piece of the puzzle—whole body healing. Whether getting a massage, learning a new pose, or perfecting your tai chi, you will be working on your body as a whole. Align your mind, body, and spirit to redirect your health. The good news is, once you cross the threshold and learn to heal through these disciplines, you will be much happier and healthier than if you had just popped that pain pill.