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Qi-Gong, pronounced as Chi Kung, is an ancient practice in China that centers on the idea of Qi or Chi, which is the energy that flows throughout our bodies. Literally, Qi-Gong means meditating on the practice of Chi. Reflection is combined with movements, 460 in all, as well as breathing techniques, to cultivate and manipulate energy so as to promote self-healing.
The connection of mind and body is a very important concept in Traditional Chinese Medicine so this link is enhanced in Qi-Gong through visualizations to aid healing. Qi-Gong training consists of four types: dynamic (movement), static (holding position), meditative (visualization) and external (methods using external agents). A Qi-Gong system can include one or more of the training types above.
Dynamic training is the exercise portion of Qi-Gong, which involves a series of precise movements designed to improve the flow of energy in the body.
In Static Qi-Gong, the practitioner holds a certain position for a given time, just like in Yoga. The effort exerted, both mentally and physically, in order to stay in a specific posture enables the practitioner to properly manipulate the energy in his body.
The third training, meditative, is commonly done in Traditional Chinese Medicine to direct chi through the correct energy pathways or meridians to achieve a smooth and continuous energy flow throughout the body. The last Qi-Gong training makes use of external agents such as certain foods, drinks, herbs or massages to manipulate the flow of energy.
As part of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Qi-Gong is used not only to cure illnesses but to prevent them as well. Qi-Gong works by enhancing the immune response of the practitioner to improve the body’s ability to heal itself and recover from illnesses. Aside from maintaining general health, Qi-Gong therapy is used to help a person manage stress and related diseases like hypertension and is also useful in physical rehabilitation and in the treatment of arthritis and cancer.
Different communities in China practice Qi-Gong aside from the Chinese medical practitioners. Martial artists, scholars, and the religious community all make Qi-Gong a part of their disciplines to enhance their abilities and improve character, reflecting the holistic approach of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
FAQ on Qi-Gong
What is Qi-Gong?
Qi-Gong is a type of traditional Chinese medicine practice that uses physical and mental training skills for promoting health and energy. It comes from two words: qi which means energy or air and gong which means skill or practice. The principle of Qi-Gong rests in the idea of controlling and manipulating qi to heal illnesses, produce a sense of well being and even develop extraordinary abilities such as withstanding hard blows to the body.
It is believed to have its roots in shamanic meditative practice and gymnastic exercises during the reign of Huang di or the Yellow Emperor and has been written down in the Book of Internal Medicine.
What are the benefits of learning or practicing Qi-Gong?
Like other forms of TCM, Qi-Gong is not officially acknowledged in Western medicine as having conclusive therapeutic results. However, it is widely accepted and practiced as an alternative form of medicine. Proponents of Qi-Gong believe that because of the meditative component, it improves focus and mental clarity, reduces stress, lowers blood pressure and promotes a better attitude towards health. Qi-Gong is being used as a complementary practice for physical rehabilitation, general health maintenance, relief and management of chronic pain, treatment of depression, detoxification from chemical substance addiction, slow muscular dystrophy and even in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, cancer, diabetes and asthma.
What are the forms of Qi-Gong?
There are many types of Qi-Gong and each focuses on certain aspects of the Qi-Gong theory. There is Internal Qi-Gong which is basically meditative and the external Qi-Gong which combines movement and meditation. There is also the Dynamic Qi-Gong where the practitioner performs a series of carefully-choreographed movements that are meant to promote the flow of qi within the body. Some examples of dynamic Qi-Gong are Soaring Crane Qi-Gong, Wild Goose Qi-Gong, Fragrant Crane Qi-Gong. All these are types where the practitioner performs movements that mimic the motions of the animals. On the other hand, Static Qi-Gong is similar to Yoga in that certain positions or stances are held for a period of time while focusing on the breathing and clearing the mind. A well known static Qi-Gong is the “Eight Pieces of Brocade” which are basically eight separate exercises that focus on a different physical area or qi meridian.
Can anyone practice Qi-Gong?
Yes, Qi-Gong is safe, inexpensive, convenient and can be integrated as part of a daily exercise regimen that can reduce stress from a hectic lifestyle. One doesn’t even need to have expensive apparatus or any prior training to start on Qi-Gong. Beginners may however want to start by learning the fundamentals from a qualified Qi-Gong instructor and perform the process with adequate supervision. If you are suffering from an ailment and already consulting with a physician, it is also wise to inform your doctor about your interest in Qi-Gong and discuss how it can affect your treatment program.