What Is Chi Gong?
‘Chi’ is the vital force, the life force that is transmitted by the breath. “Gong’ can be translated as exercise. So chi gong provides exercises that maximize the benefits of healthy breathing. The great news for seniors is that there are literally hundreds of simple exercises that maximize the benefits of breath and chi. Many exercises can be done while sitting in a chair or even lying down.
What Are the Benefits of Doing Chi Gong?
- Blood Oxygen Levels Improve
Doing Chi Gong on a regular basis improves one’s blood oxygen levels. We need to have oxygen levels of 90% or above. Doing Chi Gong immediately improves one’s blood oxygen saturation.
- Better Muscle Tone
This is especially important for the elderly who may be sedentary. Doing simple chi gong exercises on a regular basis improves muscle tone. Like yoga, the improvements are clear and almost immediate.
- Feelings of Physical Well-being
One may notice an overall improvement in physical well-being. You just feel better. When you feel good physically, all of your life feels better.
Doing Chi Gong With Physical Impairments
Trouble standing? Problems that keep you in a wheelchair? Bedridden? No problem. All the exercises I will be offering can be done sitting and even lying in a bed. In this first column, I will offer two simple exercises that can be done standing, sitting, or even lying in a bed. Like any exercise, however, the benefits will only be realized by those who do them on a regular basis. Make a commitment to do these exercises at least once a day and preferably twice a day.
Exercise Three - Shoot the Tiger
Standing, or sitting Slowly, while breathing in through the nose, reach the right hand in front across to the opposite shoulder. Pull and arrow from your quiver. Sweep the arrow in a large circle. The opposite hand follows in its own sweeping circle. Now do the same exercise starting with the left hand reaching to the right shoulder. Repeat 7 more times to each side.
Exercise Four -
Snake Sticks Out Its Tongue
Breathing in, the right hand raises to just in front of the mouth. Fingers touch at the tips Now reach out like a tongue coming from the mouth. The left hand comes to the mouth, palm out. Now repeat this using the left hand as a tongue, the right defending the face, palm facing out. Repeat 7 more times to each side.
Come back next time and I will share more Chi Gong exercises.
(The Rev. Jim Norton is a retired Episcopal priest and Sufi teacher. He has been doing Tai Chi and Chi Gong for over 50 years.)