Qigong loosely translates as ‘energy’ (qi) ‘cultivation’ (gong).
Similar in some ways to yoga, qigong (also spelt chi kung) is a practice of movement, breath and mindfulness. Qigong has been used for thousands of years as a low-cost, relaxing and universal healthcare exercise. It is widely practised in China and its neighbouring countries, and has found an increasing following in the West in the last 50 years. By mastering your body and your energy, you gain greater control of your life and your destiny. Tai chi is one form of qigong.
In Chinese medicine, we need to have a free flow of blood and energy circulating throughout our bodies for an ideal healthy life. This free flow is disturbed by areas that become weak or stagnant with blood and/or energy, as a result of bad habits and injuries, causing illness. Qigong is a practice whereby we move our bodies in a way that ensures that free flow, strengthening deficiencies and moving stagnation.
Daoism, one of China’s three founding philosophies, is based on the theory that everything alternates between yin and yang; between two alternating polarities (as most succinctly evidenced in qigong as the in-breath and out-breath maintaining life), and that we can experience balance and health in our lives when we understand that they are the two parts of the whole. So in relation to the breath, there should always be a smooth cyclical rhythm where there is no discernable difference between the end of the out-breath and the beginning of the in-breath, and so too the end of the in-breath and the beginning of the out-breath. In this way, we return to the natural breath, when all parts of the body used in breathing are relaxed and free of tension. When we are relaxed and free of tension, illness gives way to strength and injury can be healed. Mindful, relaxed and rhythmical breathing also massages the internal organs as the diaphragm expands and contracts. (Our breathing becomes shallow, fractured and inhibited because of past experiences when we have resisted the comings and goings in life, and we often retain these impaired breathing habits.) The practice of restoring our breath to its natural rhythm allows liberation of many mental and emotional patterns that limit our potential.
Furthermore, in qigong we extend this practice to make sure we flex and extend muscles, and lead our joints through their full range of movement in the ways they have been designed to do. Fundamental in qigong is the practice of correct standing. As children, like tribesmen, we stood, bent and walked naturally, but most of us lost this natural movement in favour of awkward and stressful postures. To reconnect with how our bodies are supposed to operate is to help ourselves release long-held tension that tires our bodies and minds, and weakens our ability to nurture ourselves and our environment sufficiently.
All of these methods are combined, along with the ’6 Healing Sounds’ and visualisations to strengthen and heal the mind and body, help the bodymind take care of itself more and more efficiently. Especially when practised daily, we reach a stage where our energy levels are high, our sleep is sound, our mind is always calm and balanced, and our body is strong, resisting illness and healing quickly.
Highly recommended if you are interested in:
- Boosting your health & vitality through cleansing of the nervous system;
- Gaining peace of mind by resolving negative emotions such as anxiety, anger and fear;
- Achieving greater aerobic capacity;
- Promoting longevity;
- Weight loss and staying fit – regulating your digestive system and metabolism;
- Improving your sporting prowess through greater flexibility and mobility;
- Preventing osteoporosis, heart disease and IBS;
- Healing internal injuries;
- Lowering blood pressure and cholesterol;
- Increasing your strength and stamina;
- Gaining confidence and self control;
- Becoming much more grounded and centred;
- Better focus and concentration.
There has been ample research on the effects of qigong, with varied success due to the difficulty of attributing effects absolutely to qigong. Here is a useful abstract explaining the effects of qigong according to scientific research (courtesy of the Qigong Institute). More research papers can be found at: