What Is Qigong?
Qigong is a mind-body exercise form that uses meditation, breathing, and movement to increase energy and enable the body to heal itself. The exercise and healing techniques used were developed in ancient China and Tibet. Qigong is practiced for a variety of reasons and has countless health-related benefits.
The Ancient Origins of Qigong – A Brief Overview
The art of Qigong originated over 5,000 years ago and is based on the principles used in acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine that restores the flow of energy in the body. The practice of Qigong helps us become aware of the flow of this Life Force energy.
The development of Qigong can be divided into four distinct periods according to the few historical documents that exist today.
First Period of Qigong
This started before 1122 B.C. when the “Yi Jing” (Book of Changes) emerged and continued until the rise of the Han dynasty. At that point, meditation was imported from India and brought with it, specific standing meditation postures, some moving, some stationary.
Second Period Of Qigong – Religious
The blending of traditional Qigong and the practice of Chinese moving and standing meditation brought in the second period of Qigong which focused on the religious practice and benefits of the art form. This ended with the rise of the Liang dynasty.
Third Period Of Qigong – Martial
With the rise of the Liang dynasty, it was discovered that Qigong could be used for martial purposes. Many different styles of martial Qigong flourished based on the theories and principles of Taoist Qigong.
Fourth Period of Qigong – Multi-faceted
At the overthrow of the Qing dynasty in 1911, Chinese Qigong blended with methods from India (Prana Yama), Japan (Reiki), and other countries to become the broad discipline that it is today.
Sources of Qi
Qi Has Two Main Sources
Non-Renewable: The life force energy that you are born with, this type of Qi is also called prenatal or original Qi.
Renewable: This life force energy comes from the food we eat, the air we breathe, nature, and even meditation or mindful exercise.
Simple Qigong Principles
- The practice of Qigong is rooted in an understanding of Yin/Yang (slow/fast) and the “Five Elements” theory.
- Qi, vital energy, builds up and circulates through the body, distributing nutrients.
- The practice of Qigong seeks to adjust the body, breath, and mind into balance.
Practical Elements Of Qigong
Qigong works toward resetting the body to neutral by releasing blockages in the energy flow. A variety of techniques are used to achieve this. Through all the different forms of Qigong, these elements are combined and used in different ways.
- The body is regulated through posture.
- The mind is regulated through focused concentration of mental activity (meditation), quiet and relaxation.
- Breath is regulated by the movement of the limbs and self-massage.
Basic Skills To Be Mastered For Beneficial Qigong
A posture that is natural and relaxed while practicing Qigong is important to allow smooth breathing. It also helps to get the mind into a quiet, calm state. The most common postures are standing firm in one place with gentle arm movements and breathing combined, conscious walking, moving the hands in time with breath, sitting in a chair upright, or standing.
Finding Quiet Inside
Regulating and being able to quiet the mind is an important discipline that will lead to the success of Qigong practice. The world will always be busy with many demands on the mind. Being able to settle inside and zone out of those thoughts is both a goal and a benefit of practicing Qigong.
Benefits of Qigong
Qigong is a perfect antidote to the effects of current lifestyle trends. Today’s world is fast-paced and runs on stress, fast food, and too little sleep. This combination has a devastating effect on our bodies and has been shown in countless studies to lead to a plethora of chronic illnesses and mental health issues. Practicing Qigong retrains the body and mind to truly relax… In this state of calm, the body can heal itself. Many other physical benefits follow the practice of Qigong as a lifestyle including increased strength, stamina, range of motion, and flexibility. It also improves the function of the immune system, digestive system and enhances healthy sleeping patterns. Mentally, Qigong hones the ability to concentrate which is vital for effectiveness in studying and at work.