Enhance Your Diabetes Management with Qigong

When the energy of our mind, body, and heart work together we enjoy a greater sense of well-being, and are physically and mentally healthier.

Qigong (pronounced chee-GONG) is an ancient Chinese practice that helps us achieve this mind-heart-body balance.

Medical Qigong

While martial arts qigong focuses on self-defense, medical qigong is designed to promote wellness and healing. There are different types of medical qigong, but they all facilitate the flow of our body’s energy - what the Chinese call “qi” - through movement, breath, and meditation.

In the qigong tradition, good health is maintained by the unimpeded flow of qi. When this flow is disrupted by energy blockages in the body, health problems eventually occur. Energy blockages develop from issues such as injuries, prolonged stress, chronic negative emotional states, poor diet, and environmental toxins.

A regular qigong practice removes energy blockages to restore the flow of qi, enhancing our well-being, and helping those who are sick to heal. Qigong practice also allows individuals to face everyday challenges with greater calmness and equanimity.

Qigong and Diabetes

Engaging in qigong can supplement our type 1 or 2 diabetes management by:

  • Strengthening and balancing the internal organs (e.g., kidneys, liver, pancreas).
  • Improving cardiovascular function through slow, deep, regular breathing and energy movements that get oxygen deep into the tissues.
  • Strengthening nerves and improving body awareness as energy flow is enhanced.
  • Boosting blood circulation by increasing the elasticity and strength of blood vessels.
  • Gently promoting muscle, spine, and joint relaxation, and flexibility.
  • Cultivating a tranquil, positive, life-affirming attitude.

Qigong practice may also help alleviate type 2 diabetes symptoms.

A 12 week randomized pilot study done through Bastyr University found that qigong practice is an “effective complementary therapy for individuals with type 2 diabetes.” Participants experienced significant reductions in their fasting glucose levels, trended toward better A1C values and decreased insulin resistance.

The research participants were instructed to follow their usual diabetes treatment protocol, including meds, diet, and exercise. They attended weekly hour long qigong sessions run by certified instructors, and engaged in two 30 minute sessions at home each week.

Getting Started

Those interested in trying qigong might explore different types of practice to discover which ones resonate with them, or simply try a qigong class offered in their vicinity.

One approach that is designed to be both simple and powerful is Spring Forest Qigong. It is a blend of easy body movements, breathing, focusing the mind, and meditation that can be practiced standing, sitting, or lying down. Spring Forest might be a good place to begin a qigong exploration (link below).

Sources: Spring Forest Qigong ; Energy Arts ; American Diabetes Assoc.
Photo credit: Naturhotel Waldesruhe

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