Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How Energy Therapy Cultivates Wellness

Trendy Healing and Energy Therapies

On the previous page we talked about "qi" (life force) and how important it is in the practice of holistic medicine. By now you may be wondering just how such powerful energy can be manipulated and replenished. Well, getting to that answer requires a bit of faith.

Qi is believed to flow through the body in much the same way as oxygen or blood. However, unlike those substances, energy can't be observed or examined. So, to believe in the power of energy therapy, you must first believe in the existence of qi. Scientists haven't definitively discovered it, but that doesn't necessarily mean it doesn't exist.

So, if the concept of qi lines up with your beliefs about the human body and spirit -- or, if you're interested in exploring this alternative view -- you can engage in energy therapy in two ways: By connecting directly with the universal life force yourself, or by having it channeled to you through another person.

When it comes to practicing energy therapy on your own, there are a number of methods you can try. A popular one is qigong. Translated from Chinese, qigong means attaining energy through a practiced skill. Martial arts such as tai chi and kung fu are popular ways to achieve this goal. Posture, breathing and movement are essential to this practice of energy therapy.

An Indian practice known as kundalini aims to release an unused reservoir of energy within the body. In Hindu, kundalini is described as a coiled snake that is awakened. Practitioners of this therapy believe you can rouse your own metaphoric serpent by engaging in certain types of intense, meditative yoga. To explore this energy therapy, train with a yogi who is familiar with the practice of kundalini.

Of course, there are more easy-going kinds of energy therapy, too. Therapeutic touch and reiki both involve having a third party act as a conduit for qi. Reiki is a Buddhist practice, and therapeutic touch is a similar, more-Westernized therapy. Both involve having a qualified therapist (therapeutic touch) or spiritual healer (reiki) channel and direct the flow of qi throughout your body. These therapies aren't always hands-on. Often, the practitioner will hover his or her hands over you, guiding qi throughout your body's energy fields.

All types of energy therapy are complementary and shouldn't be considered sole treatments for any condition. Before beginning a more physically demanding practice like kundalini, check with your doctor first. You should also make sure your insurance company covers energy therapy. Insurers vary in the types of alternative care they'll reimburse.