Take a deep breath: Qigong builds healthy lungs, healthy bodies

Woman performing qi gong lung movements

Few of us give little thought to those bellows located under our rib cage. Now, due to a respiratory-focused pandemic, our ears perk up with any mention of ways to strengthen our lung health. Here’s one you may have missed: Qigong, an arm of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Pandemic or not, healthy lungs are key to a healthy life. Once learned, Qigong is an easy ritual to incorporate into your day.

Energetic lungs are a sign of good health

In TCM one can determine a person’s lung energy by their physical energy. When the lungs are healthy, a person is physically strong, their immunity is strong, recovery from illness is quick and effective, skin is hydrated, and their complexion is bright and fresh. If lung health is weak, the person may feel less energetic, appear pallid, and their immune system will be weak.

Because the lungs are so closely related to breath—the first sign of energy to enter our bodies—Chinese medicine focuses on practices to strengthen the lungs’ ability to take in oxygen. Qigong is one of those practices.

Qigong exercises for healthy lungs and immune system

Qigong is a centuries-old system of coordinated body-posture and movement, breathing, and meditation used for the purposes of health, spirituality, and martial-arts training. Traditionally it is viewed by the Chinese and throughout Asia as a discipline to cultivate and balance Qi (pronounced approximately as “chee”).

  • “Qi” is the fundamental vital life force that flows through the body’s energy pathways;
  • “Qi gong” means “the work of gathering life energy.”

TCM lung meridian

Qi gong typically involves slow-flowing movement, deep rhythmic breathing, and a calm meditative state of mind.

The movements for lungs follow the lung meridians, i.e., acupuncture points, but also keep the whole body functioning at its peak.


What is the difference between Qigong and Tai Chi?

Most likely you’ve heard of Tai Chi, but Qigong is currently known in much smaller circles. So are they very similar?

  • Both are practices that focus on moving and guiding the body’s qi.
  • Qigong is used primarily to address health issues in a single part of the body, e.g., to help open the lungs. It is a healing art, a way of cultivating physical, spiritual, emotional and psychical health.
  • Tai Chi “forms” consist of a series of intricate movements that work to produce energy and power. The direction and the flow of the energy and power within the body are controlled by the forms.
  • Qigong movements are general and easier to learn than Tai Chi, so are good for beginners.
  • Neither is designed to burn calories or raise your heart rate.

Take a Qigong lesson now

This 6-minute video of qi gong for healthy lungs will guide you through a short and easy sequence that includes Qigong body tapping and exercises to stretch the chest and arms, stimulate the lung meridian, and improve circulation so we can take fuller, deeper breaths.

Video: Qigong for healthy lungs, YouTube

This article provides general information only and is not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If you are experiencing issues with your lungs or breathing, contact your physician or other health care worker immediately.

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