Many people know about using acupuncture, tai chi, herbs and meditation techniques to enhance health. While in Hong Kong, I learned ancient methods of Chinese medicine for difficult-to-treat disorders using special massage and exercise techniques. Sound was also used to vibrate the body and stimulate the flow of energy in specific areas.

These specialized techniques link different organs in the body to achieve a balance of “nutrition in, waste products out.” Blockages in any part of the dynamic flow can be the reason for disease and non-optimum health. Removing blockages in the pathways is the main focus.

In the West, energy has also been a treatment option, such as using light therapy to treat open wounds, acne and psoriasis. Ultrasound is used for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes for relieving muscle spasm, improving blood flow and decreasing scar tissue. Sound waves can break up kidney stones and gallstones. Electricity treats pain and muscle spasms and restores heart rhythm. Magnetic energy stimulates bone healing.

In the East, many techniques such as acupressure and meditation utilize energy, which the human body can harness and apply directly, versus Western techniques, which require specialized equipment.

Our high-technology society brings us many benefits, but, unfortunately, it has also created numerous problems. Some of the disadvantages include the following:

• Environmental pollution

• Increased sitting in cars, at desks and watching TV

• Decreased activity levels

• Increased exposure to radiation from computers, TVs, cell phones, microwaves

• Higher stress levels

All of the above can lead to developing cancer, heart disease, metabolic disorders, diabetes, endocrine/hormonal problems and brain disorders like Alzheimer’s and strokes. The detrimental effects can be lessened by improving diet, exercising, taking nutritional supplements and reducing stress.

Qigong or chi gong, an ancient Chinese method of health enhancement and longevity, can enhance organ health and immune systems, improve detoxification and energy levels and prevent the deleterious effects of aging.

Qi (chi) means the vital life force circulating through the body and gong (kung) means practice. Qigong uses the mind to move the chi and puts healing messages along the energy channels, unlike acupuncture, which uses needles to stimulate the flow of energy. Movement of the chi creates movement of the blood, bringing oxygen and nutrition to all the cells.

Some benefits of qigong include improved immunity; better sleep; less pain from arthritis; improved memory; improved cardiovascular and lung function; normalization of cholesterol levels; improved hearing and eyesight; improved kidney function; increased energy and endurance; softer skin; better coordination; improved spirits; increased bone density, and enhanced abilities.

Qigong emphasizes internal health and complements Western exercise, which emphasizes strength, flexibility and cardiovascular function. East meeting West could provide an awesome combination for maximizing health.

Sheila Yonemoto, P.T., has been a physical therapist for more than 30 years, specializing in integrative manual therapy, utilizing a holistic approach. She can be reached at Yonemoto Physical Therapy, 55 S. Raymond Ave., Suite 100, Alhambra, CA 91801. She offers a qigong “Chinese energy” exercise class. Your first class is free. Call (626) 576-0591 for more information or visit www.yonemoto.com.

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