Qi Gong is a form of gentle exercise using movements that are repeated several times, often stretching the body, increasing fluid movement (blood, synovial and lymph) and building proprioception - perception of how the body moves and it’s position in space.
During the master's program of traditional Chinese medicine school, I was required to take a course on this beautiful form of exercise. There are many benefits to practicing Qi Gong, including increased balance, strength, internal equanimity, stronger tendons and bones and even help going to sleep.
There is one exercise that I have practiced more than the all of the movements I have learned and it is used for sleep. It’s simple, elegant and is to practice before sleep while lying in bed.
Here are the steps:
Rest on your back with your legs extended straight out, your arms by your side, palms facing down. Be sure to not have your head elevated too much so as to keep proper spinal alignment.
On a slow, steady full inhale, flex the feet towards the shins- as if you are trying to reach the heels as far away from the body while bringing the tops of the feet closer to the body. On the same inhalation do the same thing with your hands- keeping the palms flat bend the wrist back so the tops of the hands are reaching closer to the forearms. This movement of the hands is called extension and the movement of the feet is called dorsiflexion.
On the exhale release the muscles of the legs, feet, arms and hand. Also set your intention to release all tension in the body. Repeat this exercise 10 times. Let the exhale be effortless- a symbol of letting go and entering sleep with ease. Try this exercise every night before bed and let us know if you gain benefit from this elegant, simple yet powerful movements.
By Daniel O'Niell