Qigong is an ancient Chinese health care
system that integrates physical postures, breathing
techniques and focused attention.
The word Qigong (Chi Kung) is made up
of two Chinese words. Qi is pronounced chee and is usually
translated to mean the life force or vital-energy that
flows through all things in the universe.
The second word, Gong, pronounced gung, means accomplishment,
or skill that is cultivated through steady practice.
Together, Qigong (Chi Kung) means cultivating energy,
it is a system practiced for health maintenance, healing
and increasing vitality.
Qigong is an integration of physical postures,
breathing techniques, and focused attention.
Qigong practices can be classified as martial, medical,
or spiritual. All styles have three things in common:
they all involve a posture, (whether moving or stationary),
breathing techniques, and mental focus. Some practices
increase the Qi; others circulate it, use it to cleanse
and heal the body, store it, or emit Qi to help heal
Practices vary from the soft internal styles such as
Tai Chi; to the external, vigorous styles such as Kung
However, the slow gentle movements of most Qigong forms
can be easily adapted, even for the physically challenged
and can be practiced by all age groups.
Like any other system of health care, Qigong is not
a panacea, but it is certainly a highly effective health
Many health care professionals recommend Qigong as
important form of alternative complementary medicine.
Qigong creates an awareness of and influences dimensions
of our being that are not part of traditional exercise
programs. Most exercises do not involve the meridian
system used in acupuncture nor do they emphasize the
of adding mind intent and breathing techniques to physical
movements. When these dimensions are added, the benefits
of exercise increase exponentially.
The gentle, rhythmic movements of Qigong reduce stress,
build stamina, increase vitality, and enhance the immune
system. It has also been found to improve cardiovascular,
respiratory, circulatory, lymphatic and digestive functions.
Those who maintain a consistent practice of Qigong
find that it helps one regain a youthful vitality,
health even into old age and helps speed recovery from
illness. Western scientific research confirms that
Qigong reduces hypertension and the incidence of falling
the aged population. One of the more important long-term
is that Qigong reestablishes the body/mind/soul connection.
People do Qigong to maintain health, heal
their bodies, calm their minds, and reconnect with their
When these three aspects of our being are integrated,
it encourages a positive outlook on life and helps
eliminate harmful attitudes and behaviors. It also
creates a balanced
life style, which brings greater harmony, stability,
There are a wide variety of Qigong practices. They
vary from the simple, internal forms to the more complex
challenging external styles. They can interest and
benefit everyone, from the most physically challenged
super athlete. There are Qigong classes for children,
citizens, and every age group in between. Since Qigong
can be practiced anywhere or at any time, there is
no need to buy special clothing or to join a health
Qigong's great appeal is that everyone
can benefit, regardless of ability, age, belief system
or life circumstances.
Anyone can enrich their lives by adding Qigong to their
daily routine. Children learning to channel their energy
and develop increased concentration; office workers
learning Qigong to reduce stress; seniors participating
movements to enhance balance and their quality of life;
caregivers embracing a practice to develop their ability
to help others; prisons instituting Qigong programs
to restore balance in inmates lives; midwives using
techniques to ease child birth.
When an individual or group assumes responsibility
and takes action for their health and healing, we all
It is best to get referrals from people whose judgment
you have confidence in. Check the Yellow Pages for
Tai Chi schools, acupuncturists, or martial art academies.
The National Qigong Association (NQA) directory, www.nqa.org/members
is also an excellent source for finding instructors.
Keep in mind the following criteria for choosing a
qualified instructor: what is their background and
are they of good character; do they treat everyone
with respect; and do they live what they teach; do
they refrain from making wild, unsubstantiated claims;
they encourage and bring out a student's highest potential?
While keeping these points in mind, remember to trust
intuition in finding an instructor who is right for
Does your Instructor live what she or he teaches?
If there are no instructors in your area, many teachers
regularly travel to give workshops in all regions
of the country. Many excellent instructional books
videos are also available.
While the terms Master and Grandmaster historically
had meaning, currently in the West, these terms are
often used for marketing purposes. Many American
the titles because of the relaxed student/ teacher
relationship we enjoy in this country, and the fact
that these titles
have been exploited.
Begin by familiarizing yourself with the many resources
available for learning Qigong. For example, the internet
is one of the best tools today for learning about
Qigong. The National Qigong Association (NQA) website
www.nqa.org is one of the better places to start.
From the links page, you can access many web sites
offer information about schools, local classes, the
scientific research, as well as books, magazines
Seek referrals in your area and visit local classes.
Attending the annual NQA conference also provides
to many styles of Qigong and practitioners from around
After you have looked into some of these resources,
find a style you feel comfortable with and develop
daily practice. It is recommended by experienced
teachers to stay with a form for at least 100 days.
practice is the most important asset you can develop.
When beginners ask, "What is the most important aspect
of practicing Qigong?" The answer is always..."just do it."