The practice of Qigong – also spelled ‘Chi gong’, depending on the Romanization used – is a 4,000-year-old practice originating from China. Qi means energy and gong means “to work with” so Qigong literally means, “to work with energy.” While still relatively new to the West, Qigong is nothing mystical or esoteric. Tens of thousands of people practice it across China, and it is based off simple movements that are geared toward keeping the body’s energy moving smoothly and balanced, which in turn can help avoid illness.
The concept of Qi can be intimidating to those who do not understand, it but from a Qigong or Daoist practitioner standpoint, Qi means energy.
Everything in the Universe is energy, only in different forms, and energy cannot be created or destroyed, only transformed.
Within energy there are two components that work and build off one another – a female energy called Yin and a masculine energy called Yang. The body’s energy is just like the universal energy that acts in accordance with these two energies, which run through the body and govern different organs and emotions.
They are constantly transforming as our bodies interact with our environment, including the weather, food and all sorts of emotions. When transitioning through all this, sometimes the energies can get out of balance, such as in winter when there is less sunshine and people tend to feel more tired, causing energy blockages or sickness arises. However, if the body keeps its energy or Qi flowing throughout all these changes, it can balance the effects and keep the body healthy.
Chinese Qigong practitioners recognized all of these aspects, and in accordance with the body’s meridian and energy points that were discovered from health cultivators in China, created movements that help the body and mind harness energy and maintain equilibrium.
There are many schools of Qigong and many different kinds of exercises but they are all centralized around the concept of working with the body’s energy and keeping it balanced in relation to its environment, and also with the mind. The exercises you may have seen presented on this site achieve this, and are performed in accordance with breathing and sometimes even sounds and visualizations, all of which are meant to harness and increase energy flow.
The history of how Chinese came to understand in detail the body’s energy centers such as meridians and what exercises activate these energies is a long and complicated one, but in short has been tied in with the development of Chinese medicine and other health cultivation practices in China.
Like most cultivation practices, Qigong underwent a lengthy period of trial and error, and evolved over the years until major practices were established and proved effective thousands of years ago, which have since been passed down through lineages. As lineages spread through China, many teachers and practitioners added their own variations. While some improved upon the exercises, others did just the opposite.
A good way to know if a Qigong practice is useful is whether a qualified teacher can explain the relation of the exercise in accordance with the body’s energy. A school such as Spring Forest Qigong clearly outlines the various benefits of all its exercises, such as Moving of Yin and Yang by illustrating the relationship of the movement with the related meridian and energy centers.
Another way, and probably more important for the advanced practitioner, is to know in detail the lineage in which the Qigong came from, such as the teachers and area of China in which it emerged or developed. This will also help you determine the legitimacy of your teacher, which nowadays is important due to the amount of fraud, or people who encountered Qigong for a short period and yet call themselves qualified teachers.
At Qiful Living, we personally have spent more than a decade seeking out lineages from all over China and have come to find the one that works really well for us, others, and also happens to have international recognition, research and testimonials is Spring Forest Qigong. Several lineage masters have recognized the founder, Chunyi Lin, as having achieved a high level of practice, and he received international Qigong certification, which can only be handed out by a few selected teachers in China.
Qigong is easy to learn, and is one of the most highly effective natural methods for keeping the body healthy.
One way to think of how Qigong works in the body is to think of the way a vehicle operates. A car that hasn’t been driven or maintained for a while takes longer to start up and is also likely to wither away faster. On the other hand, with constant maintenance and care it can sustain longer and healthier.
The body is the same way in that if you keep it maintained through good energy flow in addition to balanced emotions, exercise and diet, then you will highly enhance your chance to experience optimal health.
There are no age limits, gender or religious restrictions, or any other social constraints that prevent people from learning Qigong. When finding a teacher or program to learn, there should be no strings attached, no hidden fees, no requirements to take refuge in another system of belief, or any other formality that points to joining or following some sort of dogma. All you need is the willingness to want to feel good and healthy, and know that these techniques are based off of energy practices that, while they may be presented with some abstract words such as Qi and meridians, are not at all abstract in their effects.