Qigong (pronounced “chee gung”), means “life energy practice”. It is an ancient Chinese healing art that combines the use of mind, body, and breathing to strengthen and balance vital energy in the body called “qi”. The practice of Qigong consists of meditative techniques and special movement exercises that can benefit people of all ages and physical conditions. Qigong can even be done seated or lying down for those with weaker constitutions or lower body concerns. Qigong is practiced to maintain health, promote longevity, quiet the mind, decrease stress, and prevent or treat illness. It is a natural and simple tool to balance body energy so that life can be experienced to its full potential. Those who are new to qigong or have never heard of qigong before may have some simple questions which I will try to answer here.
Is Qigong the Same as Chi Kung? Yes. These terms are simply derived from different translation systems of the Chinese pictographs. The terms are synonymous with each other.
Is Qigong the same as Tai Chi Ch’uan? Yes and No. The graceful postures and exercises in Tai Chi Ch’uan and Qigong all follow the same principals of body movement and alignment and even share many of the same postures. It is because of this that many Tai Chi Ch’uan schools teach Qigong, but there are differences. Qigong exercises tend to be shorter and require less space in which to perform the exercises in than their Tai Chi Ch’uan counterparts. Tai Chi Ch’uan is also taught as a very effective martial art program, despite it possessing the acclaimed positive health and meditative benefits. Qigong tends to be almost entirely for exercise and meditative practices, but there are a few martial art exceptions. The only difference between learning Tai Chi Ch’uan or Qigong as a martial art or as a relaxation exercise is the intent in which you practice.
Is Qigong Therapy the same as Qigong Exercise? No. Since the rise of the Communist party in China, the Chinese often refer to anything related to qi as qigong even though both practices cultivate or align qi by very different means. This can lead to a lot of confusion for those of us in the West. When talking to new students, I add a descriptor to the name to help differential each practice. Qigong “Therapy” is one of the oldest and most widely used forms of Chinese medicine. The primary goal of Qigong Therapist is to locate and correct imbalances in the circulation of qi of a patient and lead them back to the natural state of good health. The same rules that apply to Acupuncture apply to Qigong Therapy, minus the needles. This often is done by private healing sessions with a trained qi healer or therapist. Qigong Therapy can be compared to Reiki, Luminous Healing, and Therapeutic Touch in its approach. Qigong “Exercises” help cultivate and self-regulate the energy in the body through gentle exercises and meditations. Qigong Exercises can be compared to some aspects of Tai Chi Ch’uan or Yoga and are often taught in a small class setting. Both types of Qigong can combined together to create a total health regimen. In fact many Qigong Masters and Therapists will often prescribe Qigong exercises for their patients as a form of rehab for their ailments or illnesses after they have their healing session together.
Qigong is growing in popularity thanks to people like Oprah promoting its positive health aspects. It is a safe, natural healing practice and exercise for all ages. Its centuries old techniques improve posture, balance, strength, stamina and flexibility which will lead to better vitality even if you don’t believe in qi. For those who do believe in qi energy I encourage them to try qigong therapy. Anyone with questions about qigong doesn’t have to wait for Oprah to answer their questions. They can seek out the answers themselves whether through books, the Internet or local practitioners and instructors.
About the Author: Mark Brophy is a Qigong Therapist certified by the Chinese Healing Arts Center, a Professional Member of the National Qigong Association and Health Preservation Association Certified Qigong & Tai Chi Instructor. He currently teaches Qigong & Tai Chi Ch’uan in the Columbia area. Check out Mark’s website:www.scqigong.com.
Join us inMinneapolis, MNonSaturday, June 28, 2008for the upcomingSummer Qi Gong and Tai Chi Workshop. Come learn Qi Gong and Tai Chi exercises that relieve stress and strengthen your cardiovascular system. Register today athttp://www.orientalmedcare.com/qigong.html.