Chi Gong is an ancient Chinese health care system that
integrates physical postures, breathing techniques and focused
Qigong (or chi gong) refers to a wide variety
of traditional cultivation practices that involve methods of
accumulating, circulating, and working with Qi or energy within the
body. Qigong is sometimes mistakenly said to always involve movement
and/or regulated breathing; in fact, use of special methods of focusing
on particular energy centers in and around the body are common in the
higher level or evolved forms of Qigong. Qigong is practised for health
maintenance purposes, as a therapeutic intervention, as a medical
profession, a spiritual path and/or component of Chinese martial arts.
The qi in qigong means breath or air in Chinese,
and, by extension, life force, dynamic energy or even cosmic breath.
Gong means work applied to a discipline or the resultant level of
skill, so qigong is thus breath work or energy work
The name Chi Gong (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, Chi Gong
(Chi Kung) means cultivating energy, it is a system practiced for
health maintenance, healing and increasing vitality.
Chi Gong is an integration of physical postures, breathing
techniques, and focused attention.
Chi Gong 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 others. Practices vary from the soft internal styles such as Tai
Chi; to the external, vigorous styles such as Kung Fu. However, the
slow gentle movements of most Chi Gong forms can be easily adapted,
even for the physically challenged and can be practiced by all age
Like any other system of health care, Chi Gong is not a panacea,
but it is certainly a highly effective health care practice. Many
health care professionals recommend Chi Gong as an important form of
alternative complementary medicine.
Chi Gong 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 importance 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 Chi Gong 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 Chi Gong find that it
helps one regain a youthful vitality, maintain health even into old
age and helps speed recovery from illness. Western scientific
research confirms that Chi Gong reduces hypertension and the
incidence of falling in the aged population. One of the more
important long-term effects is that Chi Gong reestablishes the
People do Chi Gong to maintain health, heal their bodies,
calm their minds, and reconnect with their spirit.
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, and enjoyment
There are a wide variety of Chi Gong practices. They vary from the
simple, internal forms to the more complex and challenging external
styles. They can interest and benefit everyone, from the most
physically challenged to the super athlete. There are Chi Gong
classes for children, senior citizens, and every age group in
between. Since Chi Gong can be practiced anywhere or at any time,
there is no need to buy special clothing or to join a health club.
Chi Gong's great appeal is that everyone can benefit,
regardless of ability, age, belief system or life circumstances.
Anyone can enrich their lives by adding Chi Gong to their daily
routine. Children learning to channel their energy and develop
increased concentration; office workers learning Chi Gong to reduce
stress; seniors participating in gentle movements to enhance balance
and their quality of life; caregivers embracing a practice to develop
their ability to help others; prisons instituting Chi Gong programs
to restore balance in inmates lives; midwives using Chi Gong
techniques to ease child birth.
When an individual or group assumes responsibility and takes
action for their health and healing, we all benefit. 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 Chi Gong Association (NQA)
directory, www.nqa.org/members is also an excellent source for
Keep in mind the following criteria for choosing a qualified
instructor: what is their background and experience; are they of good
character; do they treat everyone fairly and with respect; and do
they live what they teach; do they refrain from making wild,
unsubstantiated claims; do they encourage and bring out a student's
highest potential? While keeping these points in mind, remember to
trust your intuition in finding an instructor who is right for you.
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 and videos are also available.
While the terms Master and Grandmaster historically had meaning,
currently in the West, these terms are more often used for marketing
purposes. Many American teachers avoid 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 Chi Gong. For example, the internet is one of the best
tools today for learning about Chi Gong. The National Chi Gong
Association (NQA) website
www.nqa.org is one of the better places to start. From the links
page, you can access many web sites that offer information about
schools, local classes, the latest scientific research, as well as
books, magazines and videos.
Seek referrals in your area and visit local classes. Attending the
annual NQA conference also provides an introduction to many styles of
Chi Gong and practitioners from around the world.
After you have looked into some of these resources, find a style
you feel comfortable with and develop a consistent daily practice. It
is recommended by experienced teachers to stay with a form for at
least 100 days. A consistent practice is the most important asset you
When beginners ask, "What is the most important aspect of
practicing Chi Gong?" The answer is always..."just do it."