Qigong (also spelled chi kung and pronounced as chee-gung) is the study and practice of cultivating your own life-force energy through various techniques that include breathing, postures, meditations, and visualization. It has been used in China for over 3,000 years as a self-healing system with the ?rst and foremost bene?t being the relief or prevention of chronic health problems. The range of maladies that have been helped by qigong and have been researched and recorded include cancer, internal organ ailments, poor circulation, nerve pain, back and joint problems and general physical diseases, in addition to mental and emotional issues.
Qi means “breath” or “air” and is considered the vital life force or the life force energy.
Gong means “work” or “effort” and is the commitment an individual puts into any practice or skill that requires time, patience and repetition to perfect.
Through the study of Qigong, the practitioner aims to develop the ability to manipulate qi in order to promote self-healing, prevent disease, and increase longevity.
There are many forms and styles of Qigong, but they all fit into three main categories:
- Martial Qigong for physical strength and discipline
- Medical Qigong to heal self physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual ailments
- Spiritual Qigong for spiritual evolution and enlightenment
Medical Qigong is the most popular of the three categories and is the oldest of the four branches of Traditional Chinese Medicine because it is the energetic foundation for the others, which include acupuncture, herbal medicine and Chinese massage.
When you practice and learn Qigong exercise movements, there are both external and internal movements. The internal movements support internal power and create flow, which in China is called neigong. The internal neigong movements are what make Qigong a superior health and wellness practice. The internal movements also differentiate Qigong from almost every other form of exercise in the West which often emphasizes prolonged cardiovascular movements (such as in running and biking) or that focus on muscular strength training (weight lifting or cross training).
Qigong is a gentle exercise composed of movements that are repeated a number of times and are designed to stretch the body, increase fluid movement within the body, and build awareness of how the body moves through space.
You might have come across a Qigong healer, who has practiced and continues to practice the same foundational techniques, but through effort (“gong”), have gained a deeper understanding of every move, breath and thought behind the techniques, allowing them to control Qi.
Qigong practitioners believe that those who have the ability to control Qi can emit Qi to heal others, which can be done in many ways based on the healer’s approach. In order to emit qi to help heal others, Qigong healers must maintain their personal health, which requires the ongoing practice and cultivation of self-healing Qigong.
Practitioners further believe that diligent practice helps them progressively develop skills such as clairvoyance, clairaudience, and clairsentience, which can help the healer’s diagnosis skills. In addition to their strong practice, Qigong healers understand Traditional Chinese Medicine theory (Qi, five-element, meridians, and other theory) and its applications. A healer uses this foundational knowledge in partnership with intuition to balance the patient’s Qi. However, if a Qigong healer relies too heavily on theory, or too much on intuition, he or she won’t become a great healer. Only those who find the balance do so and I have met one incredibly strong and humble Qigong healer, who is my teacher, Master Angela Yan.