Can Qigong help mild depression?

Posted on October 6, 2020Comments Off on Can Qigong help mild depression?

New research studies have shown that qigong practice helping persons with mild depression. But is Qigong the best practice for you? I recommending finding something that makes you feel motivated, or even excited, to practice. For some of us, qigong fills that role the best. For others, it might be hiking, meditation, martial arts, or painting.

What is Qigong?

Qigong are movement exercises, or stationary exercises, that work to improve or balance the energy in your body. There are two types of internal energy in your body, qi and prana. Qi. They both help us sustain our life and maximize our potential. I like to give the analogy of a mobile phone:

  • Your body -> mobile phone body
  • Your mind -> mobile phone software
  • Your energy -> mobile phone power & signal system
  • Your qi -> electrical power circulating the phone
  • Your prana -> electrical signal passing through the phone, and also wirelessly beyond the phone

Performance issue of any of these components can contribute to feelings of mild depression. Also, sometimes all components are strong and healthy, but they are not in alignment and that can contribute to various issues. While medical professionals will directly address the emotional, chemical, and psychological aspects of depression, you can contribute to your well being by working to improve all aspects of your health holistically. Qigong focuses on improving the qi and prana in your body. Baduanjin, the exercise in this article, improves the flow of both energies.

Baduanjin Qigong

Baduajin means the Eight Silk Brocades, meaning that it is 8 precious sections. It contains 8 movement sequences, each benefiting a primary internal organ. Each internal organ in turn improves our ability to handle stress and emotional disturbances. Overall, it’s an easy sequence to learn and practice. Let’s take a look at it and then we will discuss practice guidelines.

  1. The first movement heals your digestive system and improves energy stagnation.
  2. The second sequence heals your spleen and reduces anxiety.
  3. The third sequence heals your lungs and reduces sorrow.
  4. The fourth sequence heals your kidneys and reduces fear.
  5. The fifth sequence heals your heart and reduces excitement.
  6. The sixth sequence heals your kidneys and reduces fear again.
  7. The seventh sequence heals your liver and reduces your anger.
  8. The eighth sequence heals your brain and spinal cord and improves your overall vitality.

How to practice Baduanjin

  1. Find a quiet and comfortable place to practice
  2. If indoors, open the window and let the fresh air and stale air exchange
  3. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, body weight just behind the ball of your feet
  4. Breathe comfortably through your nose
  5. Practice and enjoy your practice
  6. Thank your training space for giving you a comfortable place to practice

While the last step is not absolutely necessary, I find that cultivating a sense of gratitude at any possible opportunity helps us align and open our heart. An open heart grants us access to valuable insights and provides us a sense of peace.

A comfortable and outdoor space can make a fantastic space for practicing qigong.
A comfortable and outdoor space can make a fantastic space for practice.
Photo by Joel Holland on Unsplash

Some final guidelines to help you get the most out of your practice:

  • Don’t train within an hour after eating
  • Don’t drink stimulants prior to training
  • Avoid training outside when it’s windy or rainy
  • Wear loose and comfortable clothing

When should you practice?

Usually I say that we should practice when we feel like it, and to abstain when one doesn’t feel like it. But with mild depression, such a radar may not serve as a reliable navigation tool. I worked once with a person with mild depression who was himself a psychologist. He simply accepted that feeling kind of depressed is his baseline, but he gets himself up and goes to work, go on vacation, work out and have fun the way he wants to. He said that he makes himself get up and do exercises even though he never feels like it. But after the practice, he always felt better.

Sunrise and Sunset is when the earth is at its most vibrant and energetic, making an ideal time for qigong practice.
Sunrise and Sunset is when the earth is at its most vibrant and energetic, making an ideal time for qigong practice.
Photo by Pablo Heimplatz on Unsplash

So that being said, maybe it will be worth your while to push yourself to exercise even when the motivation is NOT quite there. The best times to practice are sunrise and sunset. But it’s beneficial any time of the day. So go ahead and practice, whenever it works best for you!

I hope you find this to be helpful. Moreover I hope you feel a little more motivated to practice. Give it a shot and let us know how you feel in the comments below.

Comments Off on Can Qigong help mild depression?