Category Archives: Illnesses and Ailments

A list of common illnesses and ailments, including symptoms & Complementary treatment methods.

Stress Management the Holistic Way

Stress Management

Stress management - stress can affect anyone, even the carers.

Stress management refers to a variety of techniques and psychotherapies that are designed to controlling stress levels within an individual, especially chronic stress.

We all know, or at least think we know, what stress is but even the professionals, who have spent their lives studying it, still have difficulty in exactly what stress is. Despite their efforts over the last half-century there is still no agreed definition yet we all know what stress is, in the same way that we all know what happiness is, but like happiness it has different qualities for different people.

Basically, stress is a term that describes our natural fight or flight response. Our primeval survival response that helped our species to continue existing. It is this inborn response that prepares us for fight or flight from anything that we perceive as dangerous, or a threat to our survival. And in the interests of our survival, this response is extremely sensitive and is set to recognise and react to even minute levels of potential danger, whether it is real or merely a perception.

In the 21st Century we may not be being chased by sabre-toothed tigers but this response to danger is still hard-wired into our system. Today’s modern stressors produce the same emotional and physical response but are brought on by a perceived imbalance between demands placed and what resources and time are available. They can be the result of fear of missing a deadline, of making a mistake in a tender, of not getting the job right, of redundancy, of not matching up to one’s peers…………… the list goes on. This means that you experience stress whenever you are faced with an event or situation that you perceive as challenging to your ability to cope. If you see the event or situation as only mildly challenging, you will probably feel only a little stress; however, if you perceive the situation or event as threatening or overwhelming your coping abilities, you will probably feel a lot of stress.

Is this, in itself bad? No, not really. Imagine the relief and sense of achievement of the caveman who has outrun the sabre-toothed tiger………….. Stress is a motivator and, on completion of a successful task, it can be rewarded and the stress levels drop to be replaced by a feeling of euphoria…………… However, it rarely works that way and one stressor can be piled on another until coping is no longer possible. Daily exposure to stressors can have negative consequences by causing hyper-vigilance or over-reaction during times when a state of calm awareness would be more productive. With daily exposure to these stressors, stress hormones can accumulate in the body and cause feelings of being burnt-out or depressed.

 

Effects of stress hormones

Stress hormones act by mobilizing energy from storage to muscles, increasing heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate and shutting down metabolic processes such as digestion, reproduction, growth and immunity.

Constant stress causes continual release of various stress hormones which can cause:

  • High blood pressure
  • Stress-induced hypertension
  • Effects on metabolic processes
  • Lowered energy levels
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Decrease in testosterone levels in males
  • Irregular menstrual cycles in females
  • Lowered immune system

Research has shown that stress hormones are a major contributing factor in many major illnesses including cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Certain skin disorders, infections and psychological problems like generalised anxiety, panic, OCD, PTSD, depression, dissociative disorder, phobias and psychosis, have also been linked to cumulative stress.

 

Self-help methods of managing stress

  • Exercise – The easiest way to deal with cumulative stress is through physical exercise. During exercise, we metabolise excessive stress hormones and restore our body and mind to a calmer, more relaxed state. Even five to ten minutes of exercise, where a sweat has been worked up, will metabolise stress hormones and prevent their excessive  build-up. Exercise releases endorphins, which help us to feel better.
  • Taiji – Developed by the ancient Chinese, Taiji is one of the internal (soft) martial. It is increasingly practised in the West as a means of stress management and holistic exercise. Taiji is a series of slow, choreographed movements, or postures. At the core of Taiji is the concept of life essence, or Qi (pronounced ‘chee’), that flows, in meridians, through the body. When the flow of Qi is disrupted, illness is the result. Regular practice of Taiji is said to strengthen and improve Qi and according to scientific studies, Taiji is an effective healing tool for a range of disorders, particularly chronic (for example, arthritis and heart disease) and stress related conditions.
  • Qigong – Qi Gong is a combination of meditation and gentle, fluid, body movement with an emphasis on abdominal breathing. The, proper, practice of Qigong fills the mind to the point where there is no room for the stressors that permeate our daily lives. It is extremely difficult to empty our minds, our thoughts. The universe loves a vacuum and as we try to empty our mind, it takes the opportunity to fill it to overflowing. With Qigong the mind becomes full, full of one thing, the focus on the Qigong exercise. There is no room for anything else and this lets the practitioner step into the eye of the hurricane, to that calm spot where the stresses of life are absent. From there, these stresses can be observed with an air of detachment and life can be prioritised in a way that is beneficial to body, mind and spirit.
  • Meditation – It does not necessarily take years of meditation to combat stress. Meditation provides stillness and nourishment for our conscious (spirit) brain (cognitive mind) and. There are many types of meditation to choose from but they all share the understanding that the more you meditate, the lower the stress levels and the better you will feel. Zen meditation is particularly good for reducing stress levels.
    During Zen meditation, you become more accepting of your thoughts and feelings and how they relate to the world around you. This enables you to reassess your life, your goals and your relationship with the world, enabling your mind to become increasingly peaceful.

 

Therapist info

Stress management - stress can lead to poor, physical, health.

 

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Resources

Further information on Stress Management including case studies, etc.

If you wish to add further resource information about Stress Management please contact us with the details.

 

Please note that Holistic-Pages.com makes no guarantee regarding the validity, efficacy, or safety of any therapy and we advise that medical advice should be sought from a qualified medical practitioner regarding any illness.
Holistic-Pages.com is not responsible for the credentials, qualifications and insurance status of any of the therapists who have links from this site and we advise that these should be checked before any treatment is undertaken.

 

 

Qigong for Chronic Lower Back Pain

Qigong for Chronic Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain is a symptom that can have a multitude of causes.  Any, gentle, exercise where the muscles are being relaxed and toned and the vertebrae are being manipulated tend to be good for alleviating back pain.  Using simple exercises, Qigong for chronic lower back pain, can speed up recovery  and continued practice maintains mobility flexibility and strength.

For example, one Qigong exercise that can be done (both standing and seated) is from the set known as the Shibashi.  It is easy to learn and you only need to do 6 to 8 repetitions on a daily basis to gain the benefits.  It is not an instant cure, it will take time and that time is dependent on the current pain levels and mobility.

This is the seated variation of “Rowing the Boat”.

 

Sitting, upright, on a firm chair (dining chair, etc) with the visualisation that your head is suspended by a single thread, from the crown. The arms hang, loosely, at the sides and the feet are placed flat on the floor.  The speed of the movement is guided by your speed of breathing…………. try to relax and take your time.

Qigong for chronic lower back pain

 

 

On inhalation, bring both hands above the head (as though surrendering) and gently curl the fingers as though you were holding the oars of a boat.

 

 

 

Qigong for chronic lower back pain

 

As you exhale, bend the body forward at the waist, letting the chest drop onto the thighs, circling the arms forward and down.  As the arms swing to their lowest point, let the head hang down (this will increase the gentle stretch on the lower back).  Finally swing the arms to the rear.

 

 

On inhalation, continue swinging the arms back, to your comfortable limit, and slowly straighten up (uncurling from the lower back,  keeping the chin gently tucked in until the body is upright), and raise the arms above the head, opening the hands and turning the palms forward.

 

Remember to uncurl from the lower back, keeping the head hanging forward with the chin tucked in.  Repeat six to eight times.

Self Shiatsu for headache relief

Self Shiatsu for headache relief

Did you know that you can use Self Shiatsu for headache relief? We all know what it is like to have a pounding headache.  Our usual response is to reach for the painkillers but what can we do when there are none at hand?  Well, one option open to us is to do some self Shiatsu and stimulate some, easily accessible and easily remembered, acupoints.

It is best that these are stimulated at the onset of the headache while you are able to focus on what you are doing rather than waiting until the headache is in full flow.

 

GB1diagram of GB meridian (Level with the eye corner, on the temple): Apply finger pressure and hold for 20 to 30 seconds.

GB14 (Above the middle of the eyebrow in the small groove that is halfway up the forehead):  Finger pressure and/or small massaging rotations for 20 to 30 seconds.

GB 12 (Below and behind the mastoid process): Apply finger pressure and hold for 20 to 30 seconds.

GB 20 (At the base of the skull, between the two large muscles [trapezius and the sternocleidomastoid]).  Apply finger pressure and hold for 20 to 30 seconds.

 

diagram of LI meridian

LI4 (Midway between the joint of the thumb and the index finger, and the border of the
web): Known as “The Great Eliminator” this point draws energy (qi) away from the head).  Apply thumb pressure and hold for 20 to 30 seconds.

 

 

 

The time quoted for stimulation is an approximation.  A good guide is that you hold the acupoint until any discomfort, from the finger pressure, starts to subside.

Easy to remember, easy to do, and all without ingesting chemicals.

Arthritis relief through Qigong

About Arthritis

Arthritis means “joint inflammation” and there are over 100 types including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and gout. Inflammation is one of the body’s natural reactions to disease or injury, and includes swelling, pain and stiffness. Prolonged, chronic, inflammation can lead to tissue damage.

Where two or more bones come together, such as the knee or hip they are covered with a smooth, spongy material called articular cartilage.  This cartilage cushions the bones and allows the joint to move, as it has no nerve supply, without pain. The joint is encapsulated by a thin film of tissue called the synovium and the synovium lining produces a slippery fluid called synovial fluid that reduces friction, acts as a shock absorber, nourishes the joint (supplies oxygen and nutrients) and allows the body’s waste management system to remove carbon dioxide and metabolic waste from the chondrocytes within the surrounding cartilage . The articulating bones are stabilised and held together by strong bands of tissue, called ligaments. Muscles and tendons also support the joints enabling movement.

With arthritis, an area in or around a joint becomes inflamed, causing pain, stiffness and, sometimes, difficulty moving. Some types of arthritis also affect other parts of the body, such as the skin and internal organs.

About Qigong

Qigong can help in the relief of arthritis pain.

Although the exercises that are now termed Qigong are estimated to be at least 5,000 years old, Qigong is a relatively new term to describe them (first used in the early 20th Century).  The type of Qigong that this article relates to is health giving, beneficial to Mind, Body and Spirit. Qigong combines graceful, flowing, movements with focus and breathing to increase and balance your vital energy (in Qigong speak this is the Mind – the Yi guiding the Qi). In “Active Qigong” there is movement of the body that gently utilize the full range of motion in your joints. Because Qigong is low-impact it has minimal impact on your joints and can be performed by almost anyone and although it is normally practiced in a standing position many of the exercises can be adapted for a seated posture.

There are numerous studies for the effect of Qigong on arthritis.  Here are a couple: –

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3200004/?tool=pubmed
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19389743

Benefits of Qigong

Qigong can be done while moving, lying down, sitting or standing, making it an ideal exercise for arthritis patients. With part of the focus being on correct posture, Qigong reduces the load/strain on joints.  Incorrect posture can lead to injuries and joint strain and blocks Qi flow.  The relaxed, deep, abdominal breathing increases oxygenation, benefits the cellular processes and can reduce stress and tension.  Not all Qigong is beneficial for arthritis so it is best to talk to an experienced qigong instructor about which exercises are right for you.

Here is one example of a simple Qigong exercise that can help.

This is good for regulating the breathing allowing the lowering of the breathing rate.  It is also good for maintaining the balance of the blood pressure, it strengthens the function of the Kidney meridian, calms the nerves (Shen), and it has a therapeutic action in the alleviation of arthritis.

Commencement:

Standing with the feet shoulder width apart, the knees unlocked (very slightly bent), the feet parallel, the shoulders relaxed and the tailbone (coccyx) tucked under.  Breathing should be relaxed, through the nose and into the abdomen (deep abdominal breathing using the abdominal muscles and the diaphragm).  The breath should be silent (with no tension in the throat) and the tip of the tongue should rest against the palate.
The movement should follow the pace of respiration…………. If you breath fast you move fast, breathe slow you move slow.  As you become more familiar with the movement you will notice that you start to relax more and your respiration slows down.  This bio-feedback will continue until your movement and breath are harmonious, relaxed and slow.

  1. Inhalation – With the palms facing downward, slowly raise the arms so that the hands are slightly higher than the shoulders, and extend the fingers.
  2. Exhalation – Keeping the spine erect, simultaneously lower the hands gently to waist level with the palms facing downward whilst bending the knees.  When bending the knees, the movement should not be excessive, and the knees should not extend beyond the toes (i.e. when looking down, with the back erect, you should just be able to see your toes).

N.B.  Make sure that the shoulders are relaxed and that the elbows are pointed down, with a “rounded” rather than angular feel/look to the arms.  There should be a harmonious co-ordination between the raising and lowering of the arms and stance.

This is the first of the Shibashi Qigong exercises and would normally be repeated six times if it was being done as part of the full Shibashi set.  However, as a solo exercise it can be repeated to your own comfortable limit……………… Take your time to build this up.

Salt and High Blood Pressure

Salt and High Blood Pressure

We need salt to survive………….. but too much is possibly a health risk too far.

How Salt Affects Blood Pressure: Salt and High Blood Pressure
Salt (sodium) is essential for our bodies to function and it is our kidneys that control the level of salt. Too much salt and our kidneys extract it, passing it into our urine. But the kidneys can be overloaded, when our salt intake levels are very high, and they cannot keep pace, leaving excess salt in our bloodstream. This makes our bodies hold on to more water, increasing the blood pressure.

Recommended Salt Intake:
Adults should eat no more than 5g of salt a day: that’s around one full teaspoon.
Children should eat less:

  • 1 to 3 years: 2g salt a day
  • 4 to 6 years: 3g salt a day
  • 7 to 10 years: 5g salt a day
  • 11 years and over: 6g salt a day

Lowering Your Salt Intake:
Processed foods tend to use salt as an additive and flavour enhancer with around 80% of the average person’s daily salt intake coming from processed foods. So, it is in our best interests if we cooked our own food and had complete control over our salt intake.
Make use of the nutrition labels on food packaging:

  • High is more than 1.5g salt per 100g
  • Low is 0.3g salt or less per 100g

Some foods are almost always high in salt simply because of the way they are prepared.
Other foods, ones that we tend to eat a lot of such as bread and breakfast cereals, can contribute a lot of salt to our diet. This is due to the amount eaten rather than their individual salt levels.
Foods to Avoid:
These foods are almost always high in salt. To cut down on salt, eat them less often or have smaller amounts:

  • bacon
  • ham
  • pickles
  • prawns Salt and High Blood Pressure
  • cheese
  • salted nuts
  • dry roasted nuts
  • salt fish
  • smoked fish
  • smoked meat
  • soy sauce
  • stock cubes
  • gravy granules
  • salami
  • anchovies

In other foods, the salt content can vary widely between different manufacturers or brands. It is best to compare these before purchasing and choosing the variety that has a lower salt level. This is one of the real benefits of nutrition labels.
These foods include:

  • pizza
  • sandwiches
  • bread products such as crumpets, bagels,etc
  • sausages
  • pasta sauces
  • crisps
  • breakfast cereals
  • ready meals
  • soup
  • tomato ketchup
  • mayonnaise
  • sauces

Remember to check the label and save your kidneys, heart and blood vessels any grief.

Shiatsu Therapy – Natural and holistic

Shiatsu Therapy

Shiatsu has a good reputation for reducing stress and relieving nausea and vomiting. Shiatsu is also believed to improve circulation and boost the immune system. Some people use it to treat diarrhoea, indigestion, constipation, and other disorders of the gastrointestinal tract. For menstrual and menopausal problems, chronic pain, migraine, arthritis, and; toothache. Shiatsu can be used to relieve muscular pain or tension, especially neck and back pain. It also appears to have sedative effects and may alleviate insomnia. In a broader sense, shiatsu is believed to enhance physical vitality and emotional well being.

Shiatsu is a Complementary form of therapy that was developed in Japan from a blend of Traditional Chinese Medicine and the Japanese massage system of Amna.  Shiatsu can also be used as a form of a self-treatment.  However, the best benefits are received when treatment is carried out by a fully qualified and experienced practitioner.

It, possibly through its ability to assist the receiver to relax, has the reputation of being able to improve circulation and boost the immune system.  Many people now use Shiatsu to help treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome, constipation, diarrhoea, indigestion, and other gastrointestinal tract disorders.  It is also used to treat  chronic pain, arthritis, migraine, tension, anxiety and depression.  Sports injuries also react well to Shiatsu treatment and it is excellent when dealing with muscular pain or tension, especially neck and back pain.  Shiatsu enhances physical vitality and emotional well being.

Shiatsu is usually given, at floor level, on a flat mat called a futon.  It is applied by massaging certain points (acupuncture points), that may be associated with the symptoms or cause of the underlying ailment, using pressure that is applied by the fingers, elbows, or even the knees.  The literal translation of Shiatsu is “finger pressure“.  Through this stimulation, the flow of energy (ki) is restored and balanced.

Groin Strain

Groin Strain

Groin strain may present as a sharp, sudden pain in the groin or inner thigh area in the course of activity, or the pain may not arise until the next day. In cases of chronic groin strain, the sufferer may not recall a specific incident where the injury could have occurred.
Symptoms include:  tenderness to touch (palpation), swelling (oedema), and bruising along the inner thigh adjacent to the groin. Pain may be reproduced by adducting (bringing the leg to midline) the leg against resistance. Proper physical examination is vital to distinguish adductor muscle group strains from other causes of groin pain.

Western treatment for any muscle injury initially consists of the RICE protocol – rest, ice, compression and elevation. Generally, grade one groin strains should be rested from exercise for about three weeks, and grade two injuries for about four to six weeks. In the worst cases, when there is a complete rupture, the muscle may have to be repaired surgically and the rehabilitation will take at least three months.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, you are advised to avoid ice as it causes further contraction and stagnation of the qi (vital energy).  If ice is used, you are advised to apply it for no more than 10 to 15 minutes per hour during the first 24 hours after the injury.  After the pain and inflammation has gone, or has been reduced, light exercise and stretching can be introduced but with caution, taking care so as not to aggravate the injury.  Massage (Tuina, or Shiatsu) is also recommended in order to speed up recovery by stimulating, among others, the acupuncture point of LV3 and GB34.

Stress at work

stress at workStress at work

Among the most common types of stress is good old-fashioned job stress, stress at work, and it is easy to understand why. With the economic slow-down of the last few years, employers are trying to squeeze more and more work out of their employees in order to keep the profits. Unfortunately, this is all too often the case with workers and people need to learn how to manage work stress. Otherwise, you will simply drown yourself in worry and drive yourself batty with concern over your workload and your job security.

The first thing to remember about job stress is that it really does not help you get work done. In fact, too much stress can actually prevent you from getting through your projects. Though every worker can point to a time when the chips were down and they rose to challenge, the fact is that long-term stress does not help people focus. Yes, short-term bursts of stress can heighten your ability to focus, but any period of stress that lasts longer than a day or even a few hours deteriorates your ability to focus. This is because the very hormones that heighten focus over a short period of time eventually degrade concentration and make you unable to keep your mind on the task at hand. Needless to say, this does not help you in the workplace.

One of the best ways to manage workplace stress is to take a break every so often. This means that you should give yourself a short break about every fifteen minutes or so and avail yourself of a break of a few minutes about every hour.
If you have the self-awareness to notice that you are not able to focus completely, you should give your eyes a break and take a quick stretch break in your chair. These breaks should be taken about every fifteen minutes, as they will allow your brain to recover a little bit of energy and allow you to return to the task at hand.

Additionally, every hour, stand up and walk away from your desk. This break should consist of some task not related to work or your desk and it is vital for maintaining concentration and reducing job stress. Go get a soft drink, take a restroom break, or simply walk the halls for about 3-5 minutes. This will not only give your body a break, it will provide your mind with an opportunity to relax. It is the simple act of doing something mindless that helps your mind. Just like muscles, the brain needs a rest and recovery period in order to get its strength back. Remember, you cannot remain completely focused forever, just like you cannot sprint forever.

If you do not take a break, your mind will start taking its own breaks. This is otherwise known as “having your mind wander.” This is a tremendously frustrating phenomenon and it can create severe job stress. You cannot focus, so you cannot get your work done, so you try to focus, which is causing your mind to wander simply because it has been focusing for so long. Thus, you become more frustrated with yourself and your stress increases. This is an endless spiral and, if you do not deliberately escape it, job stress will consume you until the only thing you can think about is your inability to think about anything other than your inability to get work done.
For those who are in the throes of job stress already and there does not seem to be any way to get out of it, it is time to give yourself a complete break. The best break is, of course, to go home and leave your work behind. However, this is not always feasible and, instead, you need some way to give yourself a break while not leaving your desk.

The best method for relieving job stress at your desk is to close your eyes and take deep breaths. The key to this is to avoid thinking about work while you are doing this breathing exercise. In fact, you should simply concentrate on your breathing. In essence, this is a form of meditation and it is a very good way to refresh your brainpower. This is because, when you are thinking about your breathing, you are thinking about almost nothing at all. After all, you breathe all the time and it comes pretty naturally. Thus, by concentrating on a process that is generally automatic, your mind will give itself a much-needed rest. In fact, some people are so effective at this form of meditation that they receive something akin to concentrated sleep. Though it takes a great deal of practice to achieve this much relaxation from meditation, even simple meditation can help you recover from job stress.

The most important thing to remember about job stress is to simply not worry about job stress. In fact, worrying about job stress will actually create a certain about of stress all its own. Thus, if you simply concentrate on your work, give yourself a break every so often, and give yourself a complete break when you need it, job stress does not need to be a concern.

Insomnia – pandemic and little understood

Insomnia

insomnia is debilitatingInsomnia is the inability to fall asleep and/or the ability to remain asleep for an adequate length of time to achieve quality rest. The results of insomnia are tiredness and fatigue that can negatively affect daily life. The condition may be transient, acute, or chronic.

 

Who Is Affected?

It affects both sexes and all age groups. Approximately 30-40% of the people are affected by disturbed sleep patterns, and in the region of 10% suffer from chronic insomnia. Although it is more common in women (especially on onset of menopause) and older adults.

Illness, psychiatric disorders, and working night or rotating shifts, all represent significant risks. About 40% of insomniacs also suffer from an associated psychiatric disorder, notably depression and insomnia is considered a diagnostic symptom for depressive and anxiety disorders.

What Are the Symptoms?

  • Difficulty falling asleep.
  • Disturbed, fragmented sleep.
  • Daytime fatigue and drowsiness.
  • Irritability.
  • Difficulty coping.

 

What can you do?

  • Cut down on caffeine (coffee, tea, cola, etc.).
  • Warm (not too hot) bath in subdued light……….. candle light does the trick.
  • Essential oil, such as lavender oil, in the bath water.
  • Set a regular pattern for bed time during the working week.

Qigong as a Healing Art

Qigong as a Healing Art

Qigong  (pronounced chee gung) is the art or science of using, working with and cultivating Qi (Chi) “life energy” to enrich ones life by controlling and strengthening the flow of qi throughout the body.

This information is written from the point of view of Traditional Chinese Medicine.  Please do not be put off by the terminology of Water/Metal imbalances, as these are only ways of describing the illness from a TCM perspective.

Qigong is an art, which is steeped in history, legend and myth, has its roots in ancient China, growing as a healing art over thousands of years. It is the forerunner of, and is therefore based on the same principles as, Acupuncture, Acupressure, Tuina, and Shiatsu.  At present it is still being developed and researched as a cure, and preventative of illness by Qigong masters and by medical establishments and universities in China, America, Russia and Japan. In China, Qigong is often used in conjunction with Traditional Chinese and Allopathic Medicine to increase the healing power/rate – This wonderful system can also be utilised to enhance any of the Complimentary Healing systems as well as being used as a self-development and self-healing system.

Often after giving a treatment we ask ourselves if we could have done more.  We often see people who need frequent/regular treatment but who cannot afford the cost.  One way we can deal with this dilemma is to recommend some form of self-help such as diet, exercise etc.  However one of the most powerful self-help systems is often overlooked, primarily because of lack of experience – Qigong.

It is my intention to outline two Qigong exercises which can be used to treat imbalances in Metal, but which also treat other chronic ailments.  My intention is to show the basic exercise listing pathogenic factors it may be used to treat, then show a modification to the exercise that will enhance it, making it more potent in treating Metal disorders/imbalances.  The beauty of these exercises lies in their simplicity and strength.

Qigong promotes the smooth flow of Qi within the meridian system, bringing harmony and balance to the Whole (Body/Mind/Spirit).  Each exercise has both a tonifying and sedating quality (i.e. It can either increase or decrease the amount of qi within the meridian) and can be prescribed using Five Element Theory or Kyo/Jitsu, as would be done in Shiatsu, etc.

The stances for both exercises are the same; feet are shoulder width apart with the weight evenly distributed, the knees are slightly bent, the coccyx is tucked in slightly, and the head is held upright as though suspended from above.

The breathing should be natural and it is important that the movement follows the breathing and not vice versa.  Breathing should be through the nose and concentrated on the Tan Tien (a point 2 – 3 inches below the navel).  Throughout the exercise, the tongue should touch the palate just behind the front teeth.

BROADENING THE CHEST:

a)      Inhalation – Turn the palms to face each other as though holding a balloon, raise them to chest height while simultaneously raising the stance, then move them laterally/horizontally as though the balloon was expanding.

b)      Exhalation – Move the arms medially/horizontally to the original distance apart, lower the stance/arms while turning the palms obliquely downward.

N.B.  Make sure that the shoulders are relaxed and that the elbows are pointed down so that the arms are not “locked”. There should be a harmonious co-ordination between the raising and lowering of the arms/stance and the breathing.  Repeat six times.

This is good for dealing with insomnia, hypertension, relieving mental fatigue, and when used in conjunction with “Commencement” it can be used to treat asthma.

The exercise can be enhanced to focus more on Metal by adopting the alternative hand position shown, and turning the palms outward as the arms are moved laterally/horizontally.

PRESSING PALMS IN CALMNESS:

Following on from the last exhalation:

a)      Inhalation – Turn the palms upward with the fingers pointing at each other, and lift the hands to eye level.

b)      Exhalation – Turn the palms down, again with the fingers pointing at each other, and press down until the hands are level with the hips. Repeat six times.

This is good for regulating the breathing and balancing the blood pressure.  It strengthens the function of the Kidney, calms the nerves, can alleviate tinnitus and dizziness, and also has an effect on arthritis of the knee.

The basic exercise is primarily used to treat Water imbalances, however by forming a triangle between the index fingers and thumbs as you press down; it then becomes more potent for treating Water.

As stated, each exercise should be repeated six times and should be carried out twice a day – morning and early evening.

Excellent results are achievable but are entirely dependent on the client practising diligently.  One example of how potent Qigong is, is that of a 13-year-old boy with severe asthma.  When he first came for treatment (Shiatsu) he was dependent on daily medication involving three different inhalers.  His treatment consisted of three Shiatsu sessions, which started to stabilise his condition, and he was then prescribed two qigong exercises.  Eight months later, his mother telephoned me with the news that he had been off medication completely for the previous five months and that he had only had one asthmatic attack in this time.  He had remained calm during this incident and used qigong to overcome it in a controlled manner.

His mother had viewed this as almost miraculous, but the real miracle was that her son had the discipline to practice his qigong each and every day – he had been empowered with the ability to heal himself.