Silver School Hosts a Lecture on Taoist Health and Qigong Exercises

Two experts in traditional Chinese medicine from Hong Kong recently visited the NYU Silver School of Social Work and spoke about the benefits of Qigong exercises for patients suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Lai Ping Yuen, chairman of the International Association of Heath and Yangsheng in Hong Kong, and Cecilia L.W. Chan, associate dean of Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Hong Kong, gave a lecture on August 10 to Silver School faculty, students, alumni, and staff about findings from their recent studies. 

Yuen and Chan, founding director of the University of Hong Kong's Centre on Behavioral Health, have been conducting research around Taoism and Qigong exercises for patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. While Western medicine has not been effective in improving quality of life, Yuen and Chan have discovered that Qigong exercises -- breathing, meditation, and movements -- have reduced the level of patients' fatigue and increased quality of life. Additionally, Yuen and Chan have found that Qigong practice has anti-aging effects, which they have measured through telomerase levels in the blood of Chronic Fatigue patients practicing Qigong. In addition to addressing research on Qigong and Taoism, Yuen and Chan also demonstrated Qigong exercises to the audience.

Associate Professor Yuhwa Eva Lu coordinated the talk after she was invited to speak at Hong Kong University and visited Chan's Centre on Behavioral Health, which utilizes the body-mind-sprit (BMS) model. Lu incorporated the BMS model into her graduate-level courses about community mental health at East China University of Science and Technology, where she taught during the spring semester.

Because the BMS model is utilized more in China, Lu was able to see first hand the impact it had on students. Students had concerns that British and American textbooks -- translated into Mandarin -- were not as applicable to clientele as other books or approaches developed in the East might have been.

"The BMS model is critically important and should be introduced to the West because it is effective and powerful," said Lu. "It needs to be built into the social work curriculum."

Lu is conducting her own research on the impact of the BMS model and Qigong movement on people with chronic pain. Chronic pain can often lead to depression, which is stigmatized in China. Lu will be adding a model of breathing, exercises, mindfulness, movement, and increased communication skills, to two senior citizen housing centers and a community center in Shanghai. The 12-week intervention will start at the end of August and will be administered by Grace Liu, MSW '12.