When people think about proper digestion, which is really important for vibrant health, time and focus is often spent on the “what” we eat and not enough on the “how” we eat, which can be just as, or more, important. Being mindful of what we are doing around mealtimes helps us to better enjoy our food, and helps our bodies digest better. It also gives an opportunity gain awareness of how we are feeling and may also give some clues about how certain foods make us feel, and why we eat the way we eat.
Qigong is any of a series of movements, specific breathing, postures, meditations, and directed mindsets that are aimed at circulating, cultivating, and balancing the energies in the body. There are many different forms one can practice that may be geared towards a specific goal like, building the immune system, or cultivating more Yin energies, or strengthen the Kidneys (or any specific organ), or aid in digestion. Often the movements are gentle and are done slowly and mindfully with one of the goals being a heightened state of awareness. At first, the awareness is developed on the external body like the limbs and torso positions of the body, and as the person practices, they can a deeper awareness and connection to the deeper tissues in the body, then the organs, and ultimately the subtle energies that course through the body that keep us alive and healthy.
Many patients who have experienced discomfort after eating, such as acid reflux, feeling bloated & heavy, and feeling nauseous, have benefited from Digestive Qigong exercises. Before making any other dietary changes, they started with this easy Qigong exercise and noticed dramatic changes.
Some of the basics of Digestive Qigong
– Feel free to do this practice before and/or after each meal or at anytime during the day where your digestion feels stuck or you are having discomfort, to help with stimulating digestion. And you do not need to be experiencing digestive problems to practice it. It feels great anytime!
– If you can comfortably stand while doing this, that is ideal, but you certainly can do it seated as well. With all of the strokes described in this exercise, try to have your hands and arms and shoulders loose and relaxed. The hand movements are brisk and there is somewhat firm contact, but using a pressure that is also comfortable for you. You may want to be wearing a shirt so your hands glide easily over your abdomen. Breathe naturally, and have fun with it.
1. Start by putting a flat hand on the upper abdomen around where the sternum (chest bone) ends. Stroke down the centerline of your abdomen to just below your navel alternating hands with each stroke 36 times.
2. Women – place your right hand on your lower abdomen around the area of your navel, and your left hand over the right hand. (Men place the left hand on the abdomen, and right hand over the left one). Make 24 circles over the abdomen going from small to large circles. The circles move: up your left side, over to your right side, down your right side, then over to your left side). This is the opposite direction that digestion occurs, and we do it to “uncork the bottle” so then when we go in the same direction as digestion, it can flow easier. Don’t make too big of a deal how big or small your circles are, if they got too big too quick, then keep the count you were at and start smaller again and repeat.
3. Keep your hands in the same position and then, move in the opposite direction and make 24 circles. This time going from large to small circles. (the circles move: up your right side, over to your left side, down your left side, then over to your right side) This is moving in the same direction that digestion normally occurs in the intestines.
4. Finish by putting a flat hand on the upper abdomen around where the sternum (chest bone) ends. Stroke down the centerline of your abdomen to just below your navel alternating hands with each stroke 36 times.
That’s it! If moving slower or faster feels better on certain days, then follow that intuition. Just for fun after I wrote this article I timed myself doing this Digestive Qigong exercise and it took me 1min 25 seconds.
I hope this is something you feel comfortable bringing into your daily mindfulness. And if you have any questions about it, please feel free to contact me at the information below.
Article contributed by:
Michael Guida Certified Amma Therapist, Diplomate Asian Bodywork Therapy (NCCAOM), Certified Wholistic Nutritionist, Licensed Massage Therapist (#19016), Certified T’ai Chi Instructor, Certified Triathlon Coach
Michael Guida LMT is an instructor and practitioner of Massage Therapy and Amma Therapy since 1994, and a practitioner at Heart Spring Health. He believes that there are many ways to address even the most complex health issues that can often be natural, simple and effective.
You can schedule an appointment with Michael by calling Heart Spring Health at 503-956-9396 or by emailing: [email protected]