Qigong, an ancient Chinese exercise and treatment, benefits both health and longevity. It involves mind and body coordination to improve the flow of the body’s vital life force. Although similar to acupuncture in moving the qi (also called chi), qigong doesn’t require needles and also helps improve organ health. There are a number of schools and approaches to qigong, from exercises you can do yourself, to having work done to you by qigong practitioners.
One simple way to improve your immune system is to improve salivation in your mouth. Doctors and dentists know that saliva helps reduce dental cavities. People with poor salivation tend to have more dental cavities and poorer immune function.
Here is a simple qigong exercise to increase salivation. Clack your teeth together 12 times, move your tongue up and down 9 times, then move your tongue from left to right 9 times, and finally move your tongue out and in 9 times. You should notice increased saliva in your mouth. Swish the fluid around your mouth and swallow it in 3 amounts. You will notice even more saliva afterwards.
Improving the lymphatic flow in the body also improves the immune system. The lymphatic system is similar in structure to the circulatory system but with much smaller vessels. If the blood vessels were the size of straws, then the lymphatic vessels would be the size of silk threads. The lymphatic system removes waste material. Sometimes, if there is a lot of material to remove, congestion occurs, resulting in swelling, heaviness and decreased immunity. Even bone dust from certain surgical procedures can clog lymph nodes and vessels.
Using shaking machines or vibrators or jumping on trampolines can help move the lymph fluid. A simple qigong exercise involves doing mild shaking while standing and relaxing all joints in the body including the jaw, so that when you shake, your teeth clack. Imagine all of the water in your body, which is about 70% of your body composition, moving as a single unit, creating a tidal wave moving waste material out of the cell and driving in nutrition, including oxygen. Also imagine the various types of tissues gliding smoothly as separate units, unsticking any scar tissue that may have developed from trauma, infection or disuse. Your fingers, shoulders, vertebrae, skin and muscles should bounce or move as a wave or flap like a flag blowing in the breeze. The action should appear graceful and flowing, with movement occurring at each separate joint. Care has to be taken to shake at an appropriate speed so you don’t hurt yourself.
From a qigong point of view, this is the only exercise I know of that benefits the hormonal or endocrine system. The endocrine system could be described as the “mobile” messenger system, versus the nervous system which could be described as the “landline.” The endocrine system communicates messages that help with energy production (thyroid, adrenal), digestion (salivary), sexual function (prostate, ovaries), sleep cycles, growth, and coordination of all bodily functions.
As a child, I watched my grandparents doing a Japanese exercise called nishishiki. They would shake their arms and legs while lying on their backs. My grandmother lived to 88 and my grandfather to 97. Later, a 92-year-old Japanese patient told me to shake my hands to stay healthy. Even while playing sports, if a team member missed a point, everyone said, “shake it off.” Shaking seems to lead to better health and performance.
What differentiates living from non-living things? Movement.
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