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Medical Qigong for Hypertension

In this essay, I will discuss combinations of prescriptive Medical Qigong exercises that can be used for people with hypertension. Ultimately, the objective is to heal over time with the intention to wean off the high blood pressure medication. This requires the collaboration of the cardiologist, acupuncturist and Qigong instructor. The levels of healing that we will discuss are twofold; physical (exercises) and spiritual/mental (breath). Qigong works on the three types of energies: Jing, Shen and Qi. We are born with Jing energy which is mainly stored in the Kidneys. It is the life force associated with our genetics. Shen is the spirit or mind that manifests into the physical level and Qi is the energy we get from the air, food and water in the environment. This Qi is stored in the lower Dan Tian which can warm your whole body or moisten the Zang organs: Yang (Small intestine, Large intestine, Stomach, Gall Bladder, Triple Burner) and Yin (Kidney, Lungs, Liver, Spleen and Heart). When focused on the lower Dan Tian, the powerhouse of your metabolism, the fire in the heart can descend and mix with the water that will warm it. Fire generates Earth (Spleen), therefore, re-charging the Jing.

Aged 53 years old and originally from the Greek islands of Chios and Andros, Reo was born in Lebanon and lived there till he was 10 years old. When the war broke out in Lebanon, his family migrated back to Athens, Greece. He lived, studied and worked there till his early 20’s, then work took him to the Middle East where he has spent 28 years of his life. As a young man, he was always very athletic and used to do long distance cycling, Karate and other sports. He is a deeply spiritual person who is both sensitive and an empath. He has always been very responsible and therefore his parents could always rely on him for many things. A born leader and strategist by nature, he is highly motivated towards anything he puts his mind to and usually achieves it. Highly educated with a degree in Computer Science, he also speaks 4 languages fluently. A man of many skills and talents, Reo has worked hard to build his own company and provided for his family above and beyond expectation. However, years of very high levels of stress coupled with self-imposed/family-imposed/society-imposed expectations have taken a toll on his body, mind and soul.

He yearns for freedom from the job, the country and responsibilities in general. Burn out was inevitable. Due to these factors he has developed hypertension and has been taking medication (Coversyl 10mg and Pravafenix) for the past 5 years. He has stopped his chain smoking 3 years ago as his cardiologist told him that he had to stop at 50 before the damage is irreversible, so he did. Two years ago, he resumed moderate to vigorous exercise. Reo diets on and off as he has not found the correct diet to really follow yet. He needs to lose 20 kilos. Depression immerged and peaked over a five year period which is now in decline and he is more of himself again. His parasympathetic system needs to be balanced. The core issue lies here. The parasympathetic system balances hormones and regenerates life. If there is a hormonal imbalance the adrenal/pituitary/thyroid Axis (TRH) (Thyroid Release hormone) and TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) the stress release hormone. This can also cause mood swings and depression symptoms. However, he has great strength and resilience with the mental capacity to overcome his thresholds in a gym setting with a trainer and without. In fact, he has all the pre-requisites to be able to heal himself. It’s just that the dial on the tuner needs to be readjusted for all the settings to align themselves and do their job.

The human body is a microcosm of what exists in nature. Macrocosmically, the Five Elements manifest as the different seasons and types of weather. In humans, the five elements are the different meridian systems that lead to the organs. Therefore, determining whether his Qi is stagnant or deficient is a prerequisite before prescribing ying (static) or yang (dynamic) Qigong. With the help of a Chinese acupuncturist, we discovered his Qi to be deficient.

The acupuncturist’s diagnosis was as follows: Spleen needs to be balanced. The spleen is related to the absorption and expulsion of fluids in our body. When you have excess thinking it causes dampness. Spleen also belongs to the earth element which is related to the stomach and large intestine. So, his digestive system needs attention and eating habits need to be addressed. She further explained that the spleen affects the liver (wood element). Wood needs to be balanced. If unbalanced it burns too much and it produces gas in the body – such as bloating. In conclusion, she said he needs to balance the elements of fire and water as his Qi is deficient due to the lack of Qi in these meridians. She felt his pulse and it was very weak. His tongue around the edges was dis-coloured and dry, meaning that he gets angry a lot. At the time of this diagnosis (3months ago), he was in a heightened state of agitation with severe mood swings. Once we began the acupuncture and he began taking the herbs, he was feeling much better. Another issue she raised was the fact that living in the desert region of Dubai disturbs the circadian rhythm of the body as there are no seasons and a lot of people suffer from insomnia because of this.

Which type of Qigong is suitable? Static or Yin Qigong is recommended for a deficient Qi, therefore, we need to begin with lots of Zhan Zhuang (standing meditation) along with 6 healing sounds before bed (related to the organs). We will progress to the dynamic Qigong as soon he feels ready and energized. I plan on gently introducing 2 animals per week so that our dynamic Qigong is not too long for the first few times and till he learns the series.

Dynamic 5 Animal Qigong by Prescription

After we do the 14 Meridian warm up with the 4-gate breathing, we will open three times before we begin the first animal (15 minutes). I will introduce one animal on the first day and another on the second day. These will then be practised together and repeated throughout week 1.

Week 1
Day 1.
Tiger III Qigong Tiger Hunts for Prey

Tiger III Qigong Tiger Hunts for Prey

Tiger III Qigong Tiger Hunts for Prey

The rotation in the torso and the positioning of the feet get the body into a dynamic cross-stretch that goes all the way up the back of the body and completely stretches the fascia, bodysuit network. It squeezes the toxins out of the liver and spleen, also activating the arm and leg meridians. Tiger is associated with the metal element which is associated with the lungs and the autumn season. The toxic emotion that we hold inside there is grief, therefore, we breathe in joy and happiness and breath out grief. We do this 6 times on each side. (5-8minutes depending on speed, but I will encourage slow flow). Then close three times and do 4 gate breathing and then Zhan Zhuang for 10 minutes (Total of 30-35 minutes per day including 14 Meridian warm up and 2 animals).

Day 2.
Tiger IV Qigong Tiger Swallows its Food

Tiger IV Qigong Tiger Swallows its Food

Tiger IV Qigong Tiger Swallows its Food

In this stance, when you clench your teeth and make a strong hissing sound till you empty all the air out of your lungs as you twist, wrings out your liver and spleen like a sponge. It feels like you emptied the toxin right out.

Then when you bite down, gnashing your teeth, benefits the kidneys and bones. You then lick by sticking your tongue out three times which generates saliva (Golden Elixir) that you swallow. The saliva increases enzyme production and is good for digestion. While swallowing his saliva I will ask him to program it with the intention to heal his gut and imagine it completely healed. The saliva also tames the heart (fire) and brings it down which brings water (yin essences) up so that water and fire are mixed to preserve good communication. Also, the tongue is responsible for revitalizing and balancing the Qi and blood circulation. All the meridians (lung, liver, spleen, kidney and heart) go to the tongue. Therefore, movement balances the Qi, which is perfect for him.

I will recommend he do Tiger III and IV – 6 repetitions on each side for the first week every day. Day 3,4,5,6 and 7 will be a repetition of Day 1 and 2.

Week 2
Day 1.
Deer I Qigong Deer Raises its antlers

Deer I Qigong Deer Raises its antlers

Deer I Qigong Deer Raises its antlers

Deer has a graceful spirit and is associated with the element of water and the winter season, which is connected to the Kidney. The negative emotion we hold in this organ is Fear. We breath out fear and breath in Will Power and Courage. This stance opens-up the governing and conception vessels that run up the spine and opens up the bladder meridian. When practising, it is important that he focus on his tailbone, as the Qi will go to the whole body opening up the meridians. When I do this, it feels exactly like the Qi is opening-up the channels. It’s one of my favourites. This is good for curing dysfunctional nerves in the internal organs, fatigue in the waist muscles, nerve pain in the pelvis and lack of sex drive.

The Da Ling acupuncture/meridian point, situated on the pericardium meridian, is located in the middle of the wrist. So, when you raise your arm and look toward it as you bend backwards stretching the fascia, you also open the heart. It calms the spirit and harmonizes the stomach and intestines. It also activates the Ming Men Point (Life Gate) located in the lower back. This strengthens the lower back and kidneys which can also treat knee problems.

Day 2.
Monkey I Qigong Monkey Strolls

Monkey I Qigong Monkey Strolls

Monkey I Qigong Monkey Strolls

The Monkey with its playful spirit puts a fun spin on life. Monkey is associated with the wood element and the spring season. It is best to practice monkey in a garden, park or forest where your eyes can feast on greenery as this heals the liver. The stance targets the fascia in the neck which is connected to the fascia in the eyes. Hands are very important in this stance as all fingers touch the thumb and point downward activating the Yin Bai – spleen meridian. Blinking the eyes also lubricates and strengthens the eyes. We breathe in forgiveness and breath out anger.

Day 3,4,5,6,7 will combine Deer I with this Monkey I and then continue to do these animals for the whole of week 2.

Week 3
Day 1
Bear IV Qigong Bear Strongly shakes its paws

Bear IV Qigong Bear Strongly shakes its paws

Bear IV Qigong Bear Strongly shakes its paws

The bear is a strongly grounded creature whose spirit is powerful. It belongs to the earth element (and contains all 4 seasons) and is associated with the Spleen. We begin with Ma Bu (Horse Stance) which sets the tone of being grounded to the earth. The focus is on stretching the liver on the right side and to feel the compression of the spleen on the left side. The fascia of the hips and psoas dynamic stretch. It also builds strength when you balance on alternate legs. We breathe in nurture and support and breath out worry and anxiety.

Read more about Bear IV Qigong here.

Day 2
Crane III Qigong Crane Flaps Its Wings

Crane III Qigong Crane Flaps Its Wings

Crane III Qigong Crane Flaps Its Wings

Crane is associated with the fire element (Summer season) and the Heart organ. The negative emotions that get stored in the heart are loneliness, excess joy, sadness. We breathe in peacefulness and breath out what doesn’t serve us. The up and down motion of the arms expands and compresses the area around the heart and lungs. Pericardium Meridian is activated with the wrist bending and middle finger extension.

We will practice Bear IV and Crane III together with 6 repetitions each side for the following days 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7.

Week 4

We will do the animals in sequence each day. Every other week I will alternate between the 2 Tigers.

In conclusion, the reason why I chose these specific animals from the different levels is that I was taking his body type and physical condition into consideration. Knowing what he will be able to do more easily that gets him into the flow more quickly will increase his confidence in his ability to get the stances correct and entice him to practice consistently over time. In addition, I purposely did not put in the animals that require crouching down as in Tiger II or Crane I, as his knees simply cannot take that kind of pressure yet. He will still exert pressure to his knees to activate them but gently, as in Tiger III and Crane III. With diligent practice, coupled with cupping on the knees and acupuncture, I am confident that he will overcome his knee issue, as he already has seen great success with the cupping. In regards to the dampness in his blood, he needs to take “angelica as it generates and moves blood, Rehmannia assists angelica by nourishing Blood and Moisture, astragalus provides the transforming Qi necessary to generate blood and moisture, Astralagus provides the transforming Qi necessary to generate Blood, peony relaxes nerves and blood vessels and dispels heat, and Zizyphus is nutritive for both Qi and blood” (extract taken from the book ‘Between Heaven and Earth – A Guide to Chinese Medicine’). In addition, practising Shinrin-Yoku (Forest Bathing) will help him to let go of emotions that no longer serve him enabling him to deeply connect to himself. I am a firm believer in practising White Tiger Qigong because the exercises heal multi-dimensionally and cover all the aspects of what the human body needs to regenerate.

Refining and respecting the 3 Treasures, Qi, Shen and Jing promote longevity. Regular practice for at least two or three years will preserve and promote elastic integrity that lasts. We can change our fascia, but we need to love ourselves and embody wisdom, benevolence, sincerity, courage and patience.

Study 5 Animal Qigong forms in December and February in Thailand.

You can also see it in action in the 5 Animal Qigong Online Course.

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1 Comment

  1. Titsa Costalas on December 28, 2018 at 10:17 am

    Nice article! Thank you for publishing. Means a lot.

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