KEYS TO FITNESS: Improving Your Immune System with Qigong

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By SHEILA YONEMOTO, PT

Qigong, an ancient Chinese exercise, benefits both health and longevity. It involves mind and body coordination to improve the flow of the body’s vital life force.

One simple way to improve your immune system is to improve salivation in your mouth. Doctors and dentists know that saliva helps reduce dental cavities. People with poor salivation tend to have more dental cavities and poorer immune function.

This following qigong exercise helps increase salivation. Clack your teeth together 12 times, then move your tongue up and down nine times, from left to right nine times, and finally out and in nine times. Notice the increased saliva in your mouth. Swish the fluid around and swallow it in three amounts. You will notice even more saliva afterwards.

Improving the lymphatic flow in the body also improves the immune system. The lymphatic system removes waste material. Sometimes, if there is a lot of material to remove, congestion occurs, resulting in swelling, heaviness and decreased immunity.

Using shaking machines or vibrators or jumping on trampolines can help move the lymph fluid.  A simple qigong exercise involves doing mild shaking while standing and relaxing all joints in the body, including the jaw, so that when you shake, your teeth clack.

Imagine all of the water in your body, which is about 70% of your body composition, moving as a single unit, creating a tidal wave moving waste material out of the cell and driving in nutrition, including oxygen. Also imagine the various types of tissues gliding smoothly as separate units, unsticking any scar tissue that may have developed from trauma, infection or disuse.

Your fingers, shoulders, vertebrae, skin and muscles should bounce or move as a wave or flap like a flag blowing in the breeze. The action should appear graceful and flowing, with movement occurring at each separate joint. Care has to be taken to shake at an appropriate speed so you don’t hurt yourself.

From a qigong point of view, this is the only exercise I know of that benefits the hormonal or endocrine system. The endocrine system could be described as the “mobile” messenger system, versus the nervous systemm which could be described as the “landline.”

As a child, I watched my grandparents doing a Japanese exercise called nishishiki. They would shake their arms and legs while lying on their backs. My grandmother lived to 88 and my grandfather to 97. Later, a 92-year-old Japanese patient told me to shake my hands to stay healthy.

Even while playing sports, if a team member missed a point, everyone said, “Shake it off.” Shaking seems to lead to better health and performance.

What differentiates living from non-living things? Movement.

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Qigong, Chinese energy classes. Try a no-impact qigong class. Your first class, a $30 value, is free! Classes are held at Y.P.T. Call for more info.

Sheila Yonemoto, P.T., has been a physical therapist for over 30 years, specializing in Integrative Manual Therapy utilizing a holistic approach. She can be reached at Yonemoto Physical Therapy, 55 S. Raymond Ave., Suite 100, Alhambra, CA  91801. Call (626) 576-0591 for a free consultation, or visit  www.yonemoto.com for more information. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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