What do Julia Roberts, Kate Beckinsale, Iggy Pop, Oprah Winfrey, Tiger Woods and band Snow Patrol all have in common? They all practice Qigong as a way to release stress and tap into clarity. Apparently the 5,000-year-old Chinese exercise practice of Qigong is… suddenly cool!
We’re ahead of the game, and for the past few years, we’ve been delivering Qigong for workplace wellbeing. Qigong is pronounced ‘chee-gong’, which is two words ‘Qi’ meaning life energy and ‘Gong’ meaning work or cultivate. The practice is moving meditation and mindfulness which incorporates acupressure, slow stretches, gentle flowing movement and stillness.
Tai Chi is the most well-known form of Qigong; this unique combination of movement, breath-work and mindfulness improves the functioning of your body both physically and mentally. Along with a sense of present moment awareness, we focus on the body, mind and breath and in doing so we encourage ourselves into a flow state that can propel us into inspiration and clarity.
Regarding corporate training and workplace wellbeing, Qigong couldn’t be more perfect… it is easy, gentle and accessible to all levels of fitness. It can be done in any clothing; there’s no sweating, no equipment necessary and you can access the benefits of the practice in just a few minutes – if that’s all you have!
So, why do you want it you might be asking… In short – balance. Our modern lifestyles are characterized by busyness; cramming as much as we can into each day, in every area of life; family, business and leisure. In a nutshell, modern life is ‘yang’ – active, engaged, rapid, overloaded. The opposite aspect of yang is ‘yin’. Yin is the passive – slow, restful, calm, soft. Yin and Yang are opposing yet complementary and interdependent opposites – you can’t have one without the other. Much like the breath, you can’t breathe in without breathing out, and like two sides of the same coin.
Active, engaged and busy needs slow, rest and calm to endure. It is not possible to have yang without yin… not for very long. Too much yang leads to burnout, overwhelm and depletion.
Health benefits of regular Qigong practice can include regulated blood pressure, improved immunity and cardiovascular health, lower rates of insomnia, depression, illness and inflammation. You receive all the cognitive benefits you might get from stillness-based mindfulness and meditation; mental clarity and focus and lower stress, AND you’re getting physical exercise.
Qigong has its roots in Traditional Chinese Medicine where tension is considered to be the cause of disease – an idea that is now mirrored by Western medicine with a major percentage of GP visits being attributed to stress. Releasing tension and managing stress is crucial for health and longevity, the great news is that Qigong offers an easy and accessible way to do it.
Once a practice reserved for martial artists, Qigong required intense commitment and ongoing long-term practice. It’s now popping up in trendy gyms and yoga studios in London, popular retreat locations around the world, and in workplaces as a way to reduce stress and improve employee resilience.
The ancient wisdom of Qigong is now much more widely available which means we can utilise this wellbeing practice in a way that is complementary to our fast-paced modern culture. There are short movement sequences that can be taught to employees so they have their own Qigong toolbox in times of stress and overwhelm. Effectively, we’re teaching people how to build resilience and reduce tension, how to soothe their nervous systems, which allows people to free themselves of stress and get back to feeling creative, productive and grounded rather than overwhelmed.
We provide Qigong sessions for corporate wellbeing days and break-out sessions that can be interspersed into company conferences and team planning days. To upskill your team and workplace, we recommend a 4-week Qigong course: a 45-minute session, once a week for four weeks. We also work one on one with CEO’s and Executives where we create individualised stress management programs.
Special thanks to the author, Nicole Lee, who is HSG’s Workplace Qigong facilitator in Melbourne.