The Chinese wellness system qigong (chee-GONG) combines four ancient practices, all meant to harness the body’s self-healing powers. The basics are easy to learn and easy on the body, and they can be done at home. Here are samples of qigong movements and methods. Practice each daily to generate vitality and promote healing.

Body movement

Slow, gentle exercises build awareness of posture… increase strength, endurance and flexibility… and unlike vigorous exercises, do not cause injury or consume internal resources (such as energy) to fuel muscles.

Gentle bending of the spine

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent. Inhaling, raise arms above head, elbows slightly bent and palms facing skyward… tip head back and tilt the pelvis, arching back slightly. On the exhalation, bend elbows and bring arms down in front of you, hands fisted and pressed together… tuck chin to chest, tilt the pelvis under and round your back. Repeat five to 10 times.

Breath practice

Deep breathing sends more oxygen-rich blood toward tissues… and “pumps” lymph fluid through the lymphatic system, a major part of the immune system.

Gathering breath

Sit with hands in your lap. Inhaling through the nose, move hands outward and upward, scooping up healing energy, until hands are just above face level, palms toward you and elbows slightly bent. Exhaling slowly, bring hands toward you, then downward past the chest and navel. Repeat five to 10 times.

Massage

Reflexes refer to areas of the body that are separated physically, yet linked via acupuncture and energy channels. Self-massage of points on the hands, ears and feet has a healing effect on the organs, joints or tissues to which these reflexes connect.

Healing hand massage

Grasp your left hand with your right hand, thumb against the palm and fingers on the back of the hand. Starting gently and gradually increasing the pressure, knead your left hand, including fingers and wrist. Spend extra time on any sore points — these areas are linked to body functions and organs that are not operating optimally. Continue for three to five minutes, then switch hands.

Meditation

Stress overstimulates the nervous system and exhausts the adrenal glands (which secrete stress hormones). Meditation counteracts stress, enhancing healing brain chemicals and hormones.

Qigong meditation

Stand, sit or lie comfortably. Inhale fully, imagining you are drawing in qi (vitality) from the universe through hundreds of energy gates (acupuncture points) all over your body’s surface. Exhale slowly, visualizing healing resources circulating inside you. Continue for five to 15 minutes, mentally directing the healing flow to wherever your body needs it most.