It’s not something taught in western schools, even the word does not make sense when translated into English as it means something like: “Energy effort”. Qigong isn’t your average workout. When you practice this style of movement, you’re practising self-awareness and learning to heal yourself from the inside out.
Qigong is perfect for people that find sitting meditation too difficult. It is a form of moving meditation. It is different from Tai Chi in that Tai Chi is a series of movements that should be performed in order. In most forms of Qigong, the exercises don’t need to be performed in the same way every time you practice.
“Qigong is, definitively, more ancient in origin than Tai Chi and it is the over-arching, more original discipline incorporating widely diverse practices designed to cultivate functional integrity and the enhancement of the life essence that the Chinese call Qi. Both Qigong and Tai Chi sessions incorporate a wide range of physical movements, including slow, meditative, flowing, dance-like motions.“
Translated from Chinese, qi (pronounced chee) means energy, and gong means cultivation, effort or discipline. Qigong is an ancient Chinese mind-body-spirit practice that combines gentle movement, meditation, and breath to promote optimum health and wellness. It has also been referred to as “energy yoga”.
What are the benefits? Many of the following have been medically measured, but the caveat is that this is from a trawl from the internet – not always the most reliable place, BUT – if even half of these “verified” positive are true then WOW!
“According to the traditional Chinese medical community, the origin of qigong is commonly attributed to the legendary Yellow Emperor (2696–2598 BCE) and the classic Huangdi Neijing book of internal medicine. One Chinese Scholar suggested that Kǒngzǐ (“Confucius”, 551–479 BCE) and Mèngzǐ (“Mencius”, 385–302 BCE) as the founders of the Scholar qigong tradition, because in their writings, they alluded to the concepts of qi training as methods of moral training.”
Qigong is like finding hidden treasure! There are many forms of Qigong, but basically, it is a series of mind/body/ breath exercises that can be done anywhere and at any time.
What are the types of Qigong?
There are many forms and styles of Qigong, but they all fit into one of three main categories:
- Medical Qigong to heal self and others
- Martial Qigong for physical prowess
- Spiritual Qigong for enlightenment
Generally, all Qigong practitioners incorporate exercises and techniques from all three categories–the only difference is their focus.
This is the most popular of the three categories. It is the oldest of the four branches of Traditional Chinese Medicine and the energetic foundation from which acupuncture, herbal medicine, and Chinese massage (tui na) originated. Thus Qigong shares the foundational theories of Traditional Chinese Medicine and uses similar diagnostic and treatment methods.
There are two types of medical Qigong:
- Self-Healing Qigong, during which individuals practice Qigong exercises to enhance their health, prevent disease, and address illness.
- External Qigong or Qi Emission, during which Qigong practitioners emit Qi with the intention to heal others. (See more about this below.) In addition to emitting Qi for healing, a good Qigong practitioner usually prescribes specific exercises designed to help regulate Qi. The patients incorporate these Qigong exercises into their daily practice as well as receive occasional sessions from the Qigong healer/practitioner.
This type of Qigong focuses on physical prowess. Martial Qigong practitioners can break bricks, bend steel wires, place sharp objects in vulnerable parts of the body without damaging the skin, or sustain physical impact from baseball bats. Martial Qigong practitioners can demonstrate physical feats considered impossible by modern science.
This type of qigong uses mantras, mudras (hand positions), sitting meditations, and prayers to pursue enlightenment. These techniques are heavily influenced by Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism. Spiritual Qigong teaches discipline and leads to self-awareness, tranquility, and harmony with nature and self.
Spiritual practitioners train their Qi to a much deeper level, working with many internal functions of the body. They practice to obtain control of their body, mind, and spirit, with the goal of escaping from the cycle of reincarnation.