Acupuncture is one of the oldest healing practices or alternative medicine in the world. By stimulating specific pressure points on the body, acupuncture can help treat patterns of illness and not just the symptoms.
Practiced in China for thousands of years, acupuncture aims to restore the body by balancing the internal Yin and Yang – two complementary but opposing factors which keep the body positive, bright and masculine while also being dark, negative and feminine. Ancient Chinese medicine links disease with an internal imbalance of Ying and Yang resulting in a blockage of “Qi” or energy through the body.
To free the flow of energy, thin hair-like needles are placed at necessary pressure points (there are over 350 commonly used points) to connect the meridians or energy pathways through your body to unblock the Qi.
Today, acupuncture is commonly sought as treatment for a variety of ailments including headaches, anxiety, insomnia, digestive problems, physical pain (muscular and skeletal) and stress. In a 2007 Survey an estimated 3.1 million American adults and 150,000 children used acupuncture the previous year. With the legal requirement that all certified or licensed practitioners must use U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved sterile, nontoxic, single-use needles, acupuncture is fast becoming a trusted source of treatment for many.
If however you are not (yet) convinced or you have a fear of needles like most people do, you can still seek the following treatments that stimulate pressure points and get the Qi flowing without getting poked.
Teishin (pronounced “tay shin”) is a great alternative to acupuncture for children or people who are averse to needles. Using a handheld healing instrument (looks like a biro-pen) made from precious materials such as gold, silver or jade, light pressure is placed on specific pressure points on the body without breaking the skin.
Reflexology involves a firm massage on pressure points on our feet. In traditional Chinese medicine, the feet are said to mirror the internal and external structure of the body. As such, the same principles apply to stimulate pressure points to increase the flow of Qi around the body and remove toxin build-ups around specific organs such as the stomach.
Do not be fooled though, reflexology is not your regular foot massage and the pressure can be fairly intense but the results are well worth it! Remember to drink plenty of water after your session to flush out the toxins.
Qigong (chee-gung) or “energy technique” is also designed to balance the easy flow of energy throughout the body, reduce stress, increase emotional happiness and boost the immune system. If you can imagine a necktie that is too tight causing a constriction of blood flow to your head, then Qigong helps to loosen the tie, cause stress to melt away and energy to circulate freely.
This energy technique combines movement or postures, breathing, and focus of the mind to bring internal balance and well-being. Qigong can be practiced through static movements, dynamic movements and also as a form of Chinese yoga or moving meditation – a flow of movement whilst in a meditative state.
Tai Chi (Taiji) is Tai Chi is a form of dynamic Qigong and is a perfect starting ground for beginners to recognize their Qi and learn the different movements and breathing techniques required for both energy techniques. Unlike Tai Chi, Qigong has specific movements which stimulate the meridians and induce a balancing of the Qi in a complementary manner to acupuncture.
Whichever you choose, Tai Chi and Qigong requires you to connect your mind and body through slow, low-impact movements. Today, 200 million people practice Qigong around the world to promote spiritual growth and happiness whilst boosting circulation and massaging organs to health. With World Tai Chi and Qigong Day approaching fast on 28th April perhaps now is a better time than any to get started on a Qigong class or workshop?
Qigong can be practiced to improve health, insomnia, weight-loss, stress and even eye-sight – check out the video below for an idea of what Qigong exercises involve and how you can enjoy a more energized day.