Working long hours at the desk can pose a number of health problems for the health conscious.
Sitting in the one position, doing repetitive tasks, working at the word processor all can contribute to neck and shoulder tension, headaches, low back problems and not to mention that spare tyre around the waist and hips that someone keeps on inflating.
Traditional Chinese medicine can hold the keys to good health and vitality as well as increased productivity, creativity and concentration in the form of Traditional Chinese Qi Gong.
Qi Gong (pronounced: chee gong ) is a form of gentle exercise having evolved in China well over three thousand years ago. It is performed by the subtle coordination of special types of breathing, movement and mental concentration. It is said when these three elements are in coordination then one is able to channel Qi (or ‘vital energy‘) through the body, restoring imbalances and revitalising the mind and body.
Many people working in their offices often ask me what they can do to prevent head, neck and shoulder stress and revitalise themselves, given their time constraints and surroundings. Although advanced students of Qi Gong may ‘work out’ for one hour or more, twenty minutes is enough to revitalise yourself and tone up the waist and stomach.
Here are a few styles adapted from different styles of Qi Gong, which can help the office bound person.
Stand behind or in front of your desk (don’t worry about onlookers, they soon may join you in your journey to health!) with your spine erect, eyes looking straight ahead, head straight, feet apart in line with shoulders. Begin by emptying the mind of all distractions. You may try visualising your favourite spot beside the beach, or in the mountains. Now begin to take some gentle breaths, sending your breath, by imagination to a point just slightly below your navel (called dantian = elixir field), hold this concentration for about the count of three, then gently, very slowly breath out. Repeat this process about eight times.
Head & Neck stretch:
Arms by your side, head looking straight ahead, and beginning to breath in, imagining you are breathing in white energy. As you breath in begin slowly to raise both your arms and head in coordination until your arms are raise and hands touch, with you head looking up at your raised hands and you have completely inspired. As you breath out, reverse the process, until your arms are beside you and your head is looking down at you feet. Repeat eight times.
Revitalise Stomach & Kidneys (good for back and waists).
Assume your original standing position. Now bend your knees slightly and at the same time lean forward slightly. With clenched fists begin to briskly rub the spine on both sides from as far up as you can reach down to the top of the buttock. After about a minute brisk rubbing, begin to pummel both sides of your back with the clench fists. Do this about 36 times.
Now holding your concentration on mingmen the acupoint on the spine at the level of the navel, begin to rotate clockwise eight times, then counter clockwise eight times, a bit like doing the hoola hoop! Repeat this procedure for as many times as you wish.
Straighten back and strengthen stomach:
A good exercise for strengthening stomach muscles and assisting in circulation of Liver Qi.
Stand with your back against a wall with feet at shoulder level. Clear mind of all distractions. Breath in deeply to dantian. On inhaling slowly raise yourself on tip toes and your arms pushing out, palms down to about 45 degrees, at the same time push your stomach in imagining that it is able to touch the wall behind you. Hold to about the count of three and reverse the process. Repeat about eight times.
Remember that Chinese medicine is holistic, involving the whole person. Eating on the run, or eating fatty or sweet foods can contribute to Food Stagnation in the form of stomach problems as well as ulcers and obesity. Along with smoking, bad eating habits and work habits can contribute to a gradual breakdown in defence Qi, limiting the body’s ability to ward of disease and infections. Exercise regularly. Twenty minutes walking per day can do wonders.