Qigong (Chi Kung) is the art or science of using, working with and cultivating Qi ( Pronounced Chee and roughly translates as intrinsic life energy) to enrich one’s life by controlling and strengthening the flow of Qi throughout the body through exercises that focus the breath, the mind (Yi) and the Qi. It is not an art that can be learned from books, it must be experienced through practice under the guidance of a teacher.
This is an art that is steeped in Chinese history and whose benefits are still being discovered and appreciated by practitioners today.
Qigong exercises can be sub-divided into Passive Qigong and Active Qigong, and these can be further sub-divided into Medical, Martial and Spiritual Qigong.
- Active Qigong is when there is body movement along with the movement of Qi – Shibashi exercises, Embroidered Brocade, etc.
- Passive Qigong is when there is no body movement and the focus is purely on moving the Qi – Standing as a Tree, Standing as a Column.
- Medical (health) Qigong promotes the smooth, free-flow of the Qi in the meridians. When there is a deficiency or stagnation of the Qi, this leads to illness. Qigong balances and harmonises the Qi, bringing health and vitality.
- Martial Qigong packs Qi into the facia and organs. This is to strengthen the body so that it can withstand heavy blows, etc. The most famous of these is Iron Shirt.
- Spiritual Qigong is used to alter states of awareness, giving access to higher levels of being.
Theoretically, Qigong follows the same rules as Acupuncture, Shiatsu, etc. in that it uses the concept of Yin and Yang, uses the meridian system and the exceptional vessels, and incorporates the Five Element Theory. The goal is to reduce excess and feed deficiency, reducing Yang conditions and increasing Yin conditions. Various techniques are utilised to facilitate the raising or lowering of the condition (Yin or Yang), to either cool or heat the Qi in order to achieve a particular result; healing the patient, or to act as prevention against illness.
By practising Qigong, the therapist/practitioner can increase their Qi capacity, and their ability to direct the Qi, so that the energy can be used during treatment. The therapist is also able to prescribe specific Qigong exercises to be used by the client in the healing process. For the healer to heal, he/she must first be healthy and have strong Qi. By the daily practice of Qigong, the therapist/practitioner remains in good health (the immune system is boosted and the endocrine system is more active). This health is not confined to the mere physical; it is health/balance of body, mind and spirit – Qi (intrinsic energy), Jing (sexual energy) and Shen (consciouness). The Qi affecting the physical, the Jing increasing and maintaining vigour, and the Shen affecting the consciousness, providing clarity of thought.
The practice of Qigong is mainly used to treat chronic ailments although it can also be used to treat acute conditions like aches and pains.