Qigong (also spelled Ch’i Kung) is a powerful system of healing and energy medicine from China. It is the art and science of using breathing techniques, gentle movement, and meditation to cleanse, strengthen, and circulate the life energy (qi). Qigong practice leads to better health and vitality and a tranquil state of mind.
In the past qigong was called nei gong (inner work) or dao yin (guiding energy). Today, the original ancient word for qigong is being revived: yang sheng. Yang sheng means “nurturing” (yang) “life” (sheng). This beautiful term includes not only healing exercises and meditations but also any practices that contribute to physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual balance. Nor is yang sheng restricted to personal well-being. To nurture life is to live in a way that cares for the life around us, all of nature.
How do I say it?
Qi pronounce chee
Gong pronounce gung, as in lung
How old is Qigong?
The documented history of qigong goes back approximately 2,500 years. However Chinese archaeologists and historians have found references to qigong-like techniques at least five thousand years old.
What about Taiji Quan (Tai Chi)?
Taiji Quan is a style of qigong. It is graceful, relaxed, slow, and fluid, like a slow- motion dance. Unlike some qigong methods that exercise specific systems or parts of the body– nervous system, endocrine system, heart, kidneys– Taiji Quan is a whole body, whole mind exercise. It treats health systemically, restoring the body to its original “program”, uncorrupted by stress, pollution, and disease. The Qigong Research & Practice Center offers training in all aspects and levels of Taiji Quan.
Why study Qigong?
Qigong has four major areas of application:
- Healing Qigong (Yi Gong). Healing Qigong (sometimes translated “Medical Qigong”) is the preventive and self-healing aspect of Chinese medicine. We are all exposed to stress. Qigong teaches us how to control our reactions to stress so that life events do not cause such symptoms as high blood pressure, frustration, or anxiety. Healthy people practice qigong to become super-healthy. Healers use qigong to prevent “healer burn-out” and to maintain a positive presence.
- External Qi Healing (Wai Qi Zhi Liao). Qigong includes a sophisticated system of health assessment and non-contact treatment called External Qi Healing (EQH). The healer learns to tap into a well of healing energy in nature and “funnel” it through his or her body. Unlike some purely intuitive systems, EQH includes exercises that increase sensitivity to energy fields and efficacy of treatment. The more you practice External Qi Healing exercises and meditations, the more effective your healing treatment. External Qi Healing techniques may be used as a stand alone form of wellness treatment or may be combined with massage, acupuncture, Therapeutic Touch, osteopathy, or any other form of body-work. Because treatment is generally performed at a distance from the body, EQH does not violate psychotherapists’ professional ethics (which do not allow touching the patient) and is thus an ideal adjunct to body-centered psychotherapy.
- Sports Qigong (Wu Gong). In sports and martial arts, qigong is the key to strength, stamina, coordination, speed, flexibility, balance, and resistance to injury. Qigong exercises can improve performance in any sport, improving the golf drive, tackling ability in football, accuracy in tennis, and stamina in swimming.
- Spiritual Qigong (Fo Gong, Tao Gong). As a spiritual discipline, qigong leads to self-awareness, tranquillity, and harmony with nature. The spiritual aspect of qigong evolved from Taoism and Buddhism.
Lesser Known Categories
Art Qigong. In the arts, qigong leads to aesthetic sensitivity. Nature uses our eyes to see herself. The qigong practitioner feels such oneness with nature that he or she feels as though the beautiful pine tree is expressing itself through the brush or poem. Students of theater, mime, and other expressive arts practice qigong to increase confidence, physical and emotional control, and expressive ability.
Business Qigong. In the business world, qigong can lead to greater integrity, defined by brilliant Law Professor Julian Gresser as, “…a sense of connectedness, coherence, wholeness, and vitality. Integrity is the capacity of every living thing to hold its own in the face of entropy, disorder, and uncertainty, its link to the living world, its ability to carry on its life, however humble.” (Piloting Through Choas, p. 8) Qigong practitioners are more resistant to stress; make better decisions; encourage credibility, confidence and team spirit; and are far more efficient. Most importantly, qigong is the ideal therapy for “hurry sickness”– the habitual sense of time urgency– a major risk factor for heart disease and accelerated aging.
Who can benefit?
Because qigong includes both dynamic and gentle techniques that can be practiced from standing, seated, or supine postures, it is suitable for young and old. Practices can be tailored to individual needs making it an ideal aid to recovery from illness or injury. Qigong is a form of complementary medicine. It works well with other forms of therapy and should never be used as a substitute for necessary treatment by a physician.
Is Qigong scientific?
Both China and the U.S. have hosted conferences for academic exchange of qigong research. Qigong has been shown to improve posture and respiration, induce the relaxation response, cause favorable changes in blood chemistry, and improve self-awareness and concentration. Research suggests that Qigong may be beneficial for Asthma, Arthritis, Cancer, Cardiovascular Disease, Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia, Headaches, Pain, and a wide variety of common ailments. External Qi Healing is effective for the same range of illnesses as acupuncture.