Qigong is a Chinese system of exercise that has been around for over 5,000 years, which is still used to relieve or prevent various health issues. Qigong awakens your body’s innate healing powers by combining movement, massage, meditation, and breathing.
“Qi” pronounced “chee,” is variously translated as breath and oxygen, but also as universal energy, vital force, vital essence of the universe. “gong” is translated at “disciplined study of,” so “qigong” is the “disciplined study of breath.”
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), energy flows through the body. When it becomes stuck and blocked, stagnant energy builds up, resulting in disease and discomfort. The entire body is thought of as a system, which needs to have its parts working in harmony in order to maintain ideal health.
One can take charge of one’s own health, especially after an illness, by learning to strengthen the body—through correcting posture, moving the body into proper alignment, balancing and loosening the limbs and allowing the oxygen and blood to flow.
All exercise forms increase the circulation of blood flow and oxygen levels. A form’s efficacy is usually judged by whether it makes one out of breath and sweaty. That is not how qigong’s effectiveness is measured. The goal of the practice is to feel calm, relaxed, and completely at peace. It’s neither punishing nor depleting, one should feel energized after the practice.
There are many, perhaps thousands, of forms included under the umbrella of the term qigong, including all of the Tai Chi forms. What they all have in common is the goal of moving and channeling energy.
Because most qigong forms are simple and repetitive, they are more accessible than many of the Tai Chi forms, so one can feel the effects (feelings of calm and good health) nearly immediately.
The essence of practicing qigong is in its slower movements. Engaging in qigong requires training the body to move slowly and allowing oneself to get lost in the pace of the forms and sequences. When one moves slowly one can feel in detail what is happening within the body. This allows better communication between the mind, body, and environment.