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Tai Chi Qigong for Insomnia

Tai Chi For Insomnia

Not being able to sleep well or barely at all can be a frustrating and deeply affecting problem. If our mind is racing and our body is exhausted it feels very much like we are out of balance and in conflict with ourselves. We need a method that will harmonize our mind with our body and leave us feeling “in tune” again with our deep need for rest and rejuvenation through sleep.

Tai Chi Qigong is a simple system of moving meditation that is based on Tai Chi moves, but is much easier to learn. Its flowing moves and gentle focus help us to take a “mental holiday” and reduce our overactive minds, giving us a more peaceful heart.

Insomnia, according to Chinese Medicine, can be due to “disturbed Shen or Spirit” i.e an unsettled mind at a deeper than normal level. To remedy this we need to harmonize the deep pathways of Qi energy associated with our heart/mind consciousness. Tai Chi Qigong is a simple method for resolving this problem and helping us back to a more balanced self again. Recent research in California also confirms that Tai Chi has a positive effect on sleep patterns. Reports that those practicing Tai Chi slept for longer* and with greater quality of sleep+ (comparable to results with medication) indicate that Tai Chi Qigong is definitely worth trying, especially as there are none of the side effects associated with medication.

Due to its gentle nature Tai Chi Qigong is ideal for insomnia and can help to calm the nervous system, reduce and overactive mind and reduce worry – all of which can leave is feeling depleted and anxious. Simply breathing more deeply, relaxing the body and moving gently in a focused way has huge psychological and physiological benefits. Tai Chi Qigong can work as an effective tool to combat both the effects of insomnia and help to reduce the root cause – it also feels great too.

Try the following exercises every day for 5 minutes and your insomnia may be reduced or even eliminated.

Exercise One: Balancing The Heart Qigong
The following exercise works to restore balance in the heart and reduce the unwanted effects of exhaustion. Using the energy points Lao Gong (Palace of Weariness) – an acupuncture point used for exhaustion on the Heart Protector Meridian and Yong Quan (Bubbling Spring) – a point used to ground energy and bring people into their bodies, this exercise works to strengthen internal qi and calm the nervous system. It is also fantastic for helping us melt away some of the psychological baggage that prevents us from sleeping.

1) Stand with you feet at shoulder width in a comfortable upright position. Bend your knees slightly so you feel more connected to the ground and gently “rooted”. Imagine a thread of golden light from your crown gently lifting you up to align your spine and tuck your chin gently in until your head feels comfortably placed. Place you tongue gently on the roof of your mouth (to connect the pathways of Qi in your body). Relax your shoulders and imagine/feel any tension in your body melting away through the soles of your feet.

2) Create a smooth and gentle pulse of movement from your feet and up through your body. Your knees will unbend slightly, then raise your arms to shoulder height. Turn your palms in towards each other to align the Lao Gong energy points. Breath: Breathing in.

3) Tilt the body gently forwards, opening the arms out to the sides and increasing the pressure on the front of the feet slightly (massaging the Yong Quan energy points). Breath: Breathing out.

4) Tilt gently back as you bring the arms back in again and come back into a more upright relaxed stance. Breath: Breathing in.

5) Relax the body, bend the knees slightly and bring the arms back down to waist height again. Breath: Breathing out

Tips: focus gently on the sensations in the palms to harmonize the energy in the Lao Gong points and the Heart Protector Qi Pathway (meridian). Stay connected with the sensations in the body, if you mind wanders just gently bring it back. If you notice any tensions in the body, try to imagine and feel them melting away into white light/pure Qi. Any disturbances you experience in your mind also imagine are melting away into pure white light/Qi.

Exercise Two: Balancing the Qi and Settling The Mind
This exercise is designed to bring peace to the heart and to activate healing on a deeper level – bringing relaxation and balance into the body and mind.

It works with what is known as the middle Dan Dian (an energy centre around the heart) and and the Lower Dan Dian (around the navel). It will make you feel calm, centred and relaxed.

1) Stand with you feet at shoulder width in a comfortable upright position. Bend your knees slightly so you feel more connected to the ground and gently “rooted”. Imagine a thread of golden light from your crown gently lifting you up to align your spine and tuck your chin gently in until your head feels comfortably placed. Place you tongue gently on the roof of your mouth (to connect the pathways of Qi in your body). Relax your shoulders and imagine/feel any tension in your body melting away through the soles of your feet.

2) Palms facing up and the waist, breath in and rise up gently. Bring the palms to the height of your heart.

3) Turn the palms to face the floor, relax and breath out. Bring your feet flat to the floor again. Allow any tensions to melt away. Bring the palms to waist level again.

4) Turn the palms to face up and repeat the exercise gently six or seven times.

5) Finish by placing the palms on the belly and visualize healing light at the center of your body.
* UCLA Research- Sleep, 2008; 31: 1001-1008
+ Journal of The American Geriatric Society, 2004: 52: 892-900
Matthew Rochford January 2009

Author’s Bio
Matthew has been studying Tai Chi, Qigong and meditation for over 17 years and is the Founder of Tai Chi Nation, a published book writer and international workshop and course leader. http://www.taichination.com/

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