Qigong (pronounced: Chee gong) is a holistic health care system putting together moving meditation (calming, repetitive motion), coordinated slow flowing movement, deep rhythmic breathing, and a calm meditative state of mind. Developed over 4,000 years ago in China, this practice has spread worldwide because of its preventive and curative functions. It is particularly ideal for and extremely popular with older individuals.

Practitioners of Qigong perform it for different reasons, including for recreation, exercise, relaxation, preventive medicine, self-healing, alternative medicine, self-cultivation, meditation, spirituality, and martial arts training.

Qigong Practices

Many different practices have developed based on Qigong philosophy. Some of the most common are:

  • Dynamic practice – involves fluid movement, usually carefully choreographed, coordinated with breath and awareness.
  • Static practice – involves holding postures for sustained periods of time.
  • Meditative practice – utilizes breath awareness, visualization, mantra, chanting, sound, and focus.

Clearly, Qigong doesn’t have the glamour and thrill of gymnastics as an exercise regimen. But, then, Qigong is much more than a slow-moving exercise.

Qigong Principles

Some basic principles of Qigong:

  • Intentional movement: careful, flowing balanced style
  • Rhythmic breathing: slow, deep, coordinated with fluid movement
  • Awareness: calm, focused meditative state
  • Visualization: of qi flow, philosophical tenets, aesthetics
  • Chanting/Sound: use of sound as a focal point

Additional principles:

  • Softness: soft gaze, expressionless face
  • Solid Stance: firm footing, erect spine
  • Relaxation: relaxed muscles, slightly bent joints
  • Balance and Counterbalance: motion over the center of gravity

Advanced goals:

  • Equanimity: more fluid, more relaxed
  • Tranquility: empty mind, high awareness
  • Stillness: smaller and smaller movements, eventually to complete stillness

What Qigong Accomplishes

Qigong combines postural, breathing, and mental training together. This produces improvement of respiratory and cardiovascular function, improved balance, and positive effects on neurophysiology.

In China, clinical applications include hypertension, coronary artery disease, peptic ulcers, chronic liver diseases, diabetes mellitus, obesity, menopause syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome, insomnia, tumors and cancer, lower back and leg pain, cervical spondylosis, and myopia.

Various studies in the West have shown significant benefits such as a decrease in cortisol levels, a hormone produced by the body in response to stress. Practitioners report that Qigong helps alleviate joint and muscle aches, increases energy and deepens their breathing.

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