Anthony Corahais states on his web site that he began practicing qigong during a severe bout of depression, and it saved his life. He now offers online courses in qigong to share that power with others. So, if you’re stressed-out and looking to fight depression and boost your immune system, qigong could be a great practice to try!
I firmly believe that to get the most out of qigong or taiji, you need to be feeling and working with the energetic aspect. For most people, they will find that most readily working with a teacher in a live setting. However – needs must drive, and when you start out, you’ll likely be pretty busy just focusing on where your hands and feet are supposed to be. So, this free video series is a great place to start. If it resonates with you, get in touch with a great teacher in your area to continue your studies. (Here’s my teacher!)
If you are looking to move beyond self-soothing into some deeper self-care (learn the differences here), you might be interested in Qigong (also spelled chi kung, pronounce “chee-GUNG”). This is a practice related to taiji (t’ai chi) that uses repeated motions synched with breath to circulate blood, lymph, and energy through the body. Medical studies have shown that taiji improves immune system response, and it’s been used in China specifically to help people recover from COVID-19. If the idea of energy movement feels a little “woo-woo” to you, know that these practices also help you breathe deeply, limber you up (especially in the torso), and help you focus calmly on something that is not the dire news of the day.
I think qigong is an easier place to start than taiji, because instead of flowing from one move to the next in a choreographed form, qigong has you repeat one move several times before moving on to the next exercise. Ideally, you’d learn from a teacher, because there are things about the way it feels that are hard to convey via video alone – but even just following along the videos as best you can will be a help.
Today’s video is by Bruce Frantzen, who has studied several lineages from masters in China. He starts with a couple minutes of talk about how qigong can help against Coronavirus. The actual practice is only 3 moves that take 3-4 minutes. The key takeaway is not that qigong or taiji would help you avoid it forever (it won’t) but rather it will help your immune system respond rapidly and effectively.
I find this approach very calming philosophically – my goal is not to lock myself away and never, ever come in contact with the virus, but rather to accept that it is fairly likely I will catch it, but to have a body and mind resilient enough to overcome it. This approach may or may not be for you, especially if you have underlying conditions or lowered immunity. I have to say, it’s a leap of faith for me after my last bout of pneumonia in 2016. So, I’m isolating, washing well, AND doing qigong!
If you’re looking for something more active, expressive, and exuberant than gentle yoga, take a look at Jurian Hughes’s Let Your Yoga Dance practice. This will get you moving in a much more active way, with some hints of yoga but also a lot of freeform movement. If your best self likes to dance through your days, but is getting bogged down in bad news and worry, this might be right up your street.
If you are interested in more of her classes, she’s offering streaming classes in several flavors throughout the week while so many of us are in lockdown (March/April 2020). They are only $5 each or $50 for an unlimited pass for the month of April, and she’s donating 10% to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts.
Let’s start this list of relaxation techniques with a classic: some simple, soothing yoga. This is not pretzel-yoga, hot-yoga, or booty-yoga (ye gods, why is that even a thing?) – just gentle stretches, a bit of breath work, and a short chant, which you can skip if you like. Yoga helps free your ribcage and breathe deliberately – both great things any time, but especially if you are trying to calm down and fight respiratory illness.
I’ve taken classes with Jurian Hughes in person, and in this, a recording of her first live-streamed yoga class ever, her personality shines through. She is kind and joyful, without being saccharine-sweet or fluffy. If you want a few minutes to focus on breath, body, and joy, you might really enjoy practicing with her.
If you are interested in more of her classes, she’s offering streaming yoga classes in several flavors throughout the week while so many of us are in lockdown (March/April 2020). They are only $5 each or $50 for an unlimited pass for the month of April, and she’s donating 10% to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts.
Hi. I miss y’all. It really bugs me that I can’t do bodywork right now, right when you need it the most. I know how good it is for calming anxiety, lowering cortisol levels, and relieving stress – and all of those things are good for boosting immunity.
So, since I can’t help you with my hands, I’m going to share some of my favorite online de-stressing and healing resources with you. Most of them are free, and you can do them anywhere you have a little space and your phone.
My hope is that you’ll try a few, and find something that’s a good fit for what you are looking for right now. I’ll post over the next few days, and keep a central list here, as well. Here’s one to get you started: