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Qigong Practice to Alleviate & Prevent Headaches

Headaches are occasional symptoms in most circumstances. But for some people, their headaches are recurrent and long lasting which pose threat to their bodies and minds, and interfere with their home, work or school life. Headaches are commonly seen in primary forms such as tension headache and migraine, the underlying causes remain unclear, however we do know that they can be triggered by many factors and are related to the physical constitution of an individual. Regular exercise is an effective way to strengthen the physiques, exercise also promotes the body to release the natural pain killers, and helps reduce stress and tension of the body. Headache sufferers are encouraged to take moderate exercises such as jogging, walking, Supreme Ultimate Fist (Tai ji quan) and Five-animal Play (Wu Qin Xi), avoid intense exercises like running or boxing as they are likely to aggravate the pain. Moreover, remember to schedule a regular time for exercise and warm up every time.

Chinese qigong is an ancient training method. Qigong practice involves posture or movements, breathing techniques and mental focus, which aim to integrate and cleanse the body and mind, promote health, prevent disease and develop personal potential. In comparison with other sports activities, qigong practice more emphasizes on individual mental state and its effect on health, it requires the participants to use a conscious mind or special psychological process to influence the physical responses of the bodies such as blood flow and muscle tension. Qigong is a kind of mind body training, regular practice helps relax physically and calm mentally, which is beneficial to those who are mentally unstable, have functional disorders and certain structural disorders. The followings are the qigong practices for headaches.

Relaxation Qigong

This is an elementary qigong practice, which relies on rhythmic and progressive muscle relaxation as well as mental focus to guide the whole body turning into a relaxed and comfortable state. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) believes that the practice promotes the flow of blood and qi, harmonizes the internal organs and strengthens the physical constitution of the body. For those who have sleeping problem or mentally unstable, it can also be a relaxation routine to help them unwind and sleep better.

Preparations: find a comfortable position - standing, sitting or lying down. Raise the tongue against the hard palate, close the eyes slightly, regulate breathing by inhaling slowly and exhaling slowing, and focus the thought at a spot just below your navel.
Relaxing steps: mentally scan the body, notice areas and feel the tension in them, loosen up the areas, let go of as much tension as possible. Follow three routes:
1. Bilateral sides of the head > sides of the neck > shoulders > upper arms > elbows > forearms > wrists > hands > fingers;
2. The face > neck > chest > abdomen > thighs > knees > lower legs > feet > toes;
3. Back of the head > back of the neck > upper back > waist > back of the thighs > back of the knees > back of the lower legs > feet > soles of the feet.

Say "loosen up" to yourself while scanning each of the areas. Also, when you note that the area is painful or very tense, spend longer time on it and say "loosen up" for 20 to 30 times. Finally, let all your body muscles relax completely. Repeat the above steps for three to five cycles.

Head and Face Qigong

This qigong practice works in the head and facial regions, and mainly involves massage and breathing techniques. TCM believes that it helps regulate the functions of the meridians, activate qi and blood, and promote skin beauty. The practice is suitable for conditions like headaches, dizziness, common cold and hypertension.

Preparations: sit on a comfortable chair, raise the tongue against the hard palate and close the eyes slightly, relax the whole body, get rid of all stray thoughts and empty the mind.
1. Push forehead: press the middle of the eyebrows with the forefingers, middle fingers and ring fingers, push upward to the front hairline for 24-50 times; press on the center of the forehead with the three fingers, push towards the temples for 24-50 times. Regulate your breathing by inhaling slowly and exhaling slowly, push forcefully while exhaling, and push lightly while inhaling, focus the mind on the movements of the fingers.
2. Knead the temples: Press on the outer corners of the eyes with the middle fingers, knead across the temples and to the back of the ears. The breathing techniques and applied forces are as above.
3. Wipe the face: cover the forehead with the palms, wipe on each side of the face in circular motions, clockwise and then anti-clockwise for 24 to 50 times. Breathing naturally, and focus the mind on the movements of the palms.
4. Comb the hair: Use all the fingers to comb the hair, from the front to the back of the head, meanwhile, grasp the scalp. Do this for 24 to 50 times. Breathing naturally, and focus the mind on the movements the palms.
5. Brush the sides of the head: Start from temples, brush across the sides of the head with the four fingers. Regulate your breathing by inhaling slowly and exhaling slowly, brush towards the back of the head for 5 to 10 time while exhaling, stop doing this while inhaling. Repeat for 7 to 10 breaths.
6. Rub the back of the head: lock all the fingers together, use the palms to hold the base of the skull and then rub down. Regulate your breathing by inhaling slowly and exhaling slowly, rub for 5 to 10 times while exhaling, stop doing this while inhaling. Repeat for 5 to 7 breaths.

Head and face qigong
Head and face qigong

There are different types of qigong to choose from, and also with numerous adaptations and versions. As the time required to attain results varies, sometimes a person requires only a short period of time to achieve his goal, while others may take several years. Certain techniques work for some people, while others do not. You may need to do a little research and experimentation to find what is best for you.