Qigong for a Healthy Spine

Recently, I received a question about qigong practices for spinal health.

I am always looking for ways to keep my body healthy inside and out. I practice yoga, I do my daily cardio and some weight training. I am especially interested in keeping my spine healthy. I am 57 and am concerned about osteoporosis which runs in my family. Anything you could share with me would be greatly appreciated.

There are some pretty sophisticated spinal health techniques in Qigong and Tai Chi, but the progression is basically this:

  • Learn to feel and move each part of the spine
  • Release any bound tension throughout the length of the spine
  • Learn to use the ligamental springs around the spine to work it like a bow
  • Connect the arms and legs to the spine through coordinated body bowing (see this recent epsiode of Qigong Radio for more about Bend the Bow Spinal Qigong)
  • Use the movements of the arms and legs to dissolve deep energetic blockages in the spine
  • Get into the spinal cord and other deep structures with Taoist Meditation

So you can really go into it!

For the most general level of health, though, I would say that the first two or three points are the most important. Many different practices teach you how to feel your spine and release tension in your muscles. Tai Chi and Qigong go in a different direction when you start to work with the ligamental bow.

Here’s what some of these exercises look like:

By the way, if you have a practice question, don’t hesitate to send it to me. I always try to answer questions by email and I may even expand it into a post.

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  1. Interesting video. I think the part about the spine organizing and being a commander for other movement is transformative. Do you think basic kwa squating and feeling a clean line into the ground would fit in as a preparatory movement to cloud hands. Sort of like the alignment of the spine being a transfer station for energy to sink when going down and rise when coming up?

  2. After re reading cloud hands lessons from Opening The Energy Gates of your Body I see how much of a spinal exercise it is. I never really understood until now how many components of the spine and its connection to the rest of the body are in that one movement.

  3. response to Andrew: Yeah! Add bowing the spine and arms to the kwa squat, you have the center to periphery preparatory exercise.