Xianggong (Fragrant Qigong) for the Health of School Children: A Qualitative Pilot Study of Feasibility and Effects

Background: Increasing stress and competitiveness levels in schools require the integration of stress-reducing and relaxing techniques into lessons. Xianggong, a special form of the Asian movement technique qigong, appears suitable for classroom settings. This pilot study explores for the first time the workability and effects of Xianggong as regular exercise by school children.
Methods: In three elementary schools and one high school, one class each practised Xianggong for six months. Two Xianggong teachers instructed the schoolteachers in Xianggong levels one and two for eight weeks (8 x 90 min) each. Then the children started to practise Xianggong for at least two sessions/week during regular classes, initially instructed by the Xianggong teachers and later by their teachers. A classroom session took 15 (level one) to 25 (level two) minutes. After six months, the teachers reported the effects in semi-structured interviews that were systematically analysed using methods by Legewie and Mayring.
Results: In observation of 140 children who exercised four times/week (average), the interviewed teachers reported calming, energising, “harmonising” and reduced aggression, community experience, and improved vitality and health. The only negative effects were temporary nightmares. The teachers found the integration workable. Some issues were problematic: parents’ concerns about religious indoctrination, excessively easy exercises leading to lack of concentration, and limited time for exercise during lessons.
Conclusions: The observed benefits warrant further research. Implementation issues can easily be overcome using test programs for further investigation. Qigong, especially Xianggong, may become a useful resource in school
health programs.

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