Medical Qigong for Healthy Lungs
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the lungs are considered one of the vital organs and are associated with the Metal element and the autumn season. During this time, it is believed that paying attention to lung health can be particularly important. White Tiger Qigong emphasizes on dedicated forms, stances and breathing techniques to help balance and strengthen the Qi associated with the lungs.
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The lungs play a crucial role in the body's respiratory system, but in TCM, they are also connected to broader functions that go beyond Western anatomical perspectives.
Key Aspects of the Lungs in Traditional Chinese Medicine
The lungs govern the inhalation of Qi (vital energy) and are responsible for breathing. They are associated with the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. They play a crucial role in regulating the flow of Qi throughout the body, influencing the overall energy balance.
In TCM, each organ is associated with specific emotional and psychological aspects. Therefore, Medical Qigong practice is dedicated to emotional balance and healthy organs. The lungs are linked to grief and sadness and access of these emotions, according to TCM, can affect the proper functioning of the lungs.
The Lung Meridian starts in the chest and runs downward to the lungs, passing through the diaphragm, the organs in the chest cavity, and the throat. It also connects with the Large Intestine Meridian. The lungs are associated as well with the skin in TCM. Healthy lung function is believed to be reflected in the condition of the skin. Skin issues may be considered as indicators of lung imbalances.
Foods with pungent flavors are believed to have an affinity for the lungs. Examples include radishes, onions, garlic, and ginger. In TCM, incorporating a balanced and varied diet is essential for overall health.
Yin – Yang Organ System: Lungs and Large Intestine
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the lungs and the large intestine are considered a paired Yin-Yang organ system within the Metal element. They are interconnected through the concept of meridians, the channels through which Qi (the vital energy) flows in the body.
The Lung Meridian and the Large Intestine Meridian are two distinct meridians in TCM, and they are considered a paired channel system. The Lung Meridian begins in the chest, descends through the lungs, and then travels down the arm to the thumb. It is responsible for the regulation of Qi and the respiratory function.
The Large Intestine Meridian starts at the index finger, runs along the arm, and connects with the large intestine. It is associated with the functions of receiving waste and eliminating impurities from the body.
The lungs are considered a Yin organ, associated with the intake of Qi and the regulation of respiration. The large intestine is considered a Yang organ, associated with the elimination of waste and maintaining the balance of fluids in the body. The Yin (lungs) and Yang (large intestine) relationship is essential for the smooth flow of Qi and the proper balance of bodily functions.
According to the TCM principles, the lungs and large intestine work in harmony to maintain balance in the body's processes of taking in and letting go. The lungs take in pure Qi from the air, while the large intestine eliminates waste and impurities. Both the lungs and large intestine are associated with the Metal which is characterized by qualities such as structure, boundaries, and the ability to let go of what is no longer needed.
In addition to their physical functions, each organ in TCM is associated with specific emotions. The lungs are linked to grief and sadness, while the large intestine is associated with the ability to release and let go, both physically and emotionally.
The Metal Element
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), as it has already been mentioned above, the Metal element is associated with specific organs, meridians, seasons, emotions, and qualities. Understanding the functions of the Metal element provides insights into its role in maintaining balance and harmony within the body.
Here are the key functions of the Metal element in TCM:
The Metal element is associated with the Lungs (Yin) and the Large Intestine (Yang). The Lung Meridian (Lu) and the Large Intestine Meridian (LI) are the energetic pathways related to the Metal element.
The Lungs play a crucial role in respiration, governing the inhalation of fresh air (Qi) and the exhalation of waste air. The Metal element is linked to the regulation of Qi, and the Lungs are responsible for distributing Qi throughout the body.
The Lungs are associated with Wei Qi, the body's defensive energy. Proper lung function is important for the distribution of Wei Qi, providing protection against external pathogens.
The emotion associated with the Metal element is grief and sadness. Emotional balance is considered important for maintaining the flow of Qi in the body.
The Metal element is associated with the autumn season. During this time, there may be an emphasis on supporting the Metal element in TCM practice.
The color associated with the Metal element is white. This color is often linked to the Lung Meridian.
The Metal element is characterized by qualities such as structure, form, and the ability to set boundaries. It is associated with the idea of refinement and precision.
The Lungs are responsible for governing the skin and body hair. Healthy lung function is believed to be reflected in the condition of the skin.
The Large Intestine is involved in the reception and elimination of waste, contributing to the balance of bodily fluids.
On a spiritual level, the Metal element is associated with the concept of "Po," which is one of the spiritual aspects of the soul in Chinese philosophy. Po is often related to the physical body and is associated with the Lung system.
A Couple of Words About the Concept of Immunity in TCM
The concept of immunity in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is not expressed in the same terms as in Western medicine, where the immune system is characterized by specific cells, proteins, and organs responsible for defending the body against pathogens. However, TCM does have a conceptual framework for understanding the body's ability to resist and respond to external influences, including pathogens. This concept is closely tied to the idea of Wei Qi (Defensive Qi).
Wei Qi is a vital energy that circulates on the surface of the body, forming a protective barrier against external pathogens. The Lung organ and its associated meridian are considered integral to the regulation and distribution of Wei Qi. The Lungs in TCM are responsible not only for respiration but also for governing Qi and maintaining the balance of Wei Qi. Healthy Lung function is crucial for the effective distribution of Wei Qi, which provides a first line of defense against external invaders.
TCM recognizes various pathogenic factors, such as Wind, Cold, Heat, Dampness, and Summer Heat, which can impact the body and lead to illness. Wei Qi is believed to play a role in protecting the body from these external pathogenic factors.
TCM places a strong emphasis on maintaining balance and harmony within the body. When the body's Qi (vital energy) is balanced, and the organs are functioning optimally, the body is better equipped to resist external pathogens.
How Does Qigong Influence the Immune System?
While the scientific understanding of how Qigong specifically strengthens the immune system is an area of ongoing research, there are several basic mechanisms through which Qigong is believed to positively influence immune function based on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) principles and preliminary studies. Here are some potential ways in which Qigong may contribute to immune system support:
In TCM, stress is considered a factor that can disrupt the flow of Qi (vital energy) and contribute to imbalances in the body. Qigong incorporates slow, flowing movements, deep breathing, and mindfulness, which have been shown to reduce stress and activate the relaxation response. Chronic stress can negatively impact immune function, and stress reduction is considered beneficial for overall health.
Balancing Qi Flow
Balanced and harmonious Qi flow is crucial for maintaining health in TCM philosophy. Qigong practices aim to promote the smooth flow of Qi throughout the body, supporting balance and harmony. This is believed to contribute to overall well-being, including immune system function.
Efficient circulation of Qi and Blood is associated with good health in TCM. Qigong movements and deep breathing exercises are designed to enhance circulation, which may facilitate the transport of immune cells and nutrients throughout the body.
The mind and body are interconnected, and emotional well-being is considered crucial for maintaining health. Qigong emphasizes the integration of movement, breath, and focused awareness. This mind-body connection is believed to induce a state of relaxation and positive emotions, which may positively impact immune responses.
Regulation of Autonomic Nervous System
TCM recognizes the importance of balancing the autonomic nervous system. Qigong has been shown to influence the autonomic nervous system, promoting a balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches. This balance is associated with improved overall health, including immune system modulation.
Release of Endorphins
TCM recognizes the importance of emotions and their impact on health. Qigong practice, like other forms of exercise, has the potential to stimulate the release of endorphins, which are associated with positive emotions. This may contribute to a sense of well-being that supports immune function.
White Tiger Qigong for Lungs Health
White Tiger Qigong teaches Daoist Medical Qigong which offers dedicated moves for every organ, connected with breathing, visualization and meditation techniques. What is also very important when practicing Qigong is to put our intention into the exercise itself. As with any other organ of our bodies, the fascia wrapping the lungs and holding them in place is responsible for their shape and their strength. Keeping the fascia healthy, meaning elastic, supple and mobile is of crucial importance for our lungs. Medical Qigong moves have been developed thousands of years ago with exactly this purpose: to adapt to each organ and keep it healthy.
White Tiger Qigong school works mainly with exercises that open up the entire fascial netting, make all supple and improve blood circulation. It is essential to teach the proper breathing techniques in order to activate the full range of lung expansion.
Some of the techniques include Tiger Qigong, Rabbit Springs, Spiral Palm, balloon breathe, sipping breath, 3-stages breath and many more.
It's important to note that TCM views the body as an interconnected system, and imbalances in one organ can affect the entire system. Understanding the interplay between the Yin and Yang aspects, the meridian pathways, and the elemental correspondences helps Medical Qigong practitioners assess and address imbalances in the lungs and large intestine. Balancing the Metal element is considered essential for overall health.
We, at Shen Medical Qigong teach White Tiger Qigong, based on ancient Daoist Medical Qigong traditions. Our practice is mainly dedicated to women’s health and we are working with women of all ages and fitness levels. If you would like to strengthen your lungs and immune system, contact us.