Greeting Fatigue with Mindful Motion

When working with fatigue, the simple movements of Qigong can gently stimulate energy without further exhausting the body. 

The arrival of the blizzard reminds us that even though we are on the other side of the winter solstice, we are still smack dab in the middle of winter. The days still go by fast and the evenings can seem long and uninspired. Despite our fervent New Year’s Resolutions, the couch may still seem to have a pretty strong pull over the yoga mat, and the absence of outdoor options tend to give the screens an unfair advantage in the competition for our down time.

Of course, we want to lean in to the feel of every season, but the winter can be a challenging time for those working with the fatigue of depression, seasonal depression disorder, or ordinary winter blues. Even those who have a holistic approach to working with fatigue and depression may have to expand their arsenal, and practice patience while they work to restore their energy.

There are many tools to help us manage the many ranges of depression. Psychotherapy is helpful in learning to understand ourselves and our patterns. Medicine is helpful in working with chemical imbalances. Mindfulness practice can help us relate to our experience with loving kindness.

Staying close to the emotional and physical experience of fatigue and depression can feel counter-intuitive. We long instead to escape. But when it comes to restoring energy, cultivating deep relaxation can be more effective than driving ourselves to push beyond what our mind and body feels like it can do.

We sometimes have the impression that an aggressive workout regimen or an intensely stimulating environment is the way to “show up,” and become the alert, active, attractive individual we long to be, but when you’re already struggling with fatigue, reaching this level of intensity can seem impossible.

Alternatively, a simple movement and breath practice can stimulate energy circulation in the body, without shocking the system. The ancient practice of Qigong utilizes slow flowing movement and deep rhythmic breathing to strengthen joints, muscles, tendons, and bones, cultivating deep relaxation and enhanced mental clarity.

Qigong involves coupling your breath with certain time-honored body movements. These simple motions are friendly and unintimidating. Those working with physical challenges can introduce mobility and relaxation as a method for working with chronic pain. Healthy individuals can use Qigong as a powerful framework to find sustainable, natural, focus and energy much greater than the ups and downs we experience with caffeine and alcohol.

Qigong is an ancient practice with roots in Chinese medicine, philosophy, and martial arts. The purpose of Qigong is to bring the mind and body into balance. Modern western science has revealed that practices aimed at synchronizing mind and body, such as mindfulness and meditative movement, promote the growth of new neurons. Neuroscientists refer to this process as neuroplasticity, or the ability of the brain to forge new neural connections.

How your neurons behave affects not only your emotional states but your physiological states as well. In other words, by practicing Qigong you can increase your ability to enjoy more lucid, conscious, perceptual experiences. Instead of feeling like you’re living in a fog, you can begin to experience the world as vivid and bright, more brilliant and more alive.

Learn the healing practice of Qigong with our “Qi Gong Workshop: Level I & II” series, with Cynthia Spencer, taking place Sat January 30th: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM and Sun January 31st: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Participants will be introduced to the foundations of Qigong, including self-massage, stretching, standing postures, and meditation.

These levels are the prerequisites for a Qigong Level III that will be offered with Dr. Eva Wong in March 2016.