Chi kung is an internal martial art that focuses on breathing and controlled movements to increase energy, or chi, both internally and externally. Similar to tai chi, chi kung’s motions are slow and gentle, promoting calm and focus. If you have high blood pressure, or hypertension, your doctor might recommend lifestyle changes that include exercise. Chi kung may reduce stress and potentially lower your blood pressure. Talk to your doctor before trying chi kung or any exercise program.
Your blood pressure is the force of blood against your artery walls. The amount of blood pumped by your heart and the amount of resistance your blood encounters are two factors in determining your blood pressure. The narrower your arteries, the higher your heart rate and the more blood it pumps, the higher your blood pressure measurement. Stress and anxiety cause your heart rate to increase, and potentially raise your blood pressure.
Chi kung, also called chi gong or qigong, was developed thousands of years ago to harness chi and control breathing. According to Chinese medicine theory, the lungs govern breathing, which is one of the main sources of energy for your body. Chi runs along energy lines, called meridians, that correspond to organs in your body. By practicing chi kung, according to Chikung-unlimited.com, you can ensure the smooth movement of chi, which keeps your organs and your body in balance.
Because it involves deep breathing and slow, controlled movements, modern science began studying chi kung for its potential health benefits. In 2003, the International Journal of Neuroscience published a study that investigated the effects of chi kung on patients with essential hypertension, or hypertension of unexplained origins. The study found that participants in chi kung exercises showed significantly lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure. These patients also exhibited lower levels of norepinephrine, epinephrine, cortisol, which are involved in the body’s stress response.
Chi kung has many exercises, all of which might be beneficial in improved breathing, which can decrease your heart rate. Like other forms of exercise, chi kung begins slowly, opening the body with exercises such as “autumn breeze,” which can gently stretch your back and waist, and “awakening the chi.” Everyday-taichi.com also recommends “beautiful woman turns the waist,” “cloud hands” and “fly like an eagle” for additional back stretches and clearing the lungs of stale air. “Quietening the chi” and “raising the arms” are also simple exercises to enhance breathing and focus your energy.
Talk to your doctor before beginning these exercises, particularly if you have hypertension. Consult a trained chi kung or tai chi instructor for proper form. If you feel pain or dizziness during exercise, stop immediately. Although chi kung exercises are designed to be gentle, some movements require balance. Begin slowly to avoid risk of injury.
article by Christy Callahan available from LIVESTRONG.com
photo credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images