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Qigong - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Qigong, chi kung, or chi gung (simplified Chinese: ; traditional Chinese: ; pinyin:qgng; WadeGiles: chi4 gong1; literally "Life Energy Cultivation") is a practice of aligning breath, movement, and awareness for exercise, healing, and meditation.[1] With roots in Chinese medicine, martial arts, and philosophy, qigong is traditionally viewed as a practice to cultivate and balance qi (chi) or what has been translated as "intrinsic life energy".[2] Typically a qigong practice involves rhythmic breathing coordinated with slow stylized repetition of fluid movement, a calm mindful state, and visualization of guiding qi through the body.[3]Qigong is now practiced throughout China and worldwide, and is considered by some to beexercise, and by others to be a type ofalternative medicine or meditative practice.[4]From a philosophical perspective qigong is believed to help develop human potential, allow access to higher realms of awareness, and awaken one's "true nature".[5] Possible health benefits of qigong have been studied in various medical conditions. Evidence of effectiveness is inconclusive due to the poor quality of the clinical trials.[6]
Contents [hide] 1 Qigong basics 1.1 Etymology 1.2 History 1.3 Training methods 1.4 Qi Sensation 2 Application 2.1 Health 2.2 Meditation and self-cultivation 2.3 Martial arts training 2.4 Forms 3 Theory 3.1 Traditional view 3.2 Principles 3.3 Contemporary view 4 Health benefits 4.1 Claims and medical research 4.1.1 Individual reviews 4.2 Mental health 4.3 Controversy 5 Shifting views 6 See also 7 References

Qigong basics
Etymology

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Main article: Qi Qigong (Pinyin), ch'i kung (Wade-Giles), and chi gung (Yale) are English words for two Chinese characters: q ( ) and gng ( ). Qi (or chi) is usually translated as life energy, lifeforce, or energy flow, and definitions often involve breath, air, gas, or relationship between matter, energy, and spirit.[7] Qi is the central underlying principle in traditional Chinese medicine and martial arts. Gong (or k ung) is often translated as cultivation or work, and definitions include practice, skill, mastery, merit, achievement, service, result, or accomplishment, and is often used to
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Qigong - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

mean gongfu (kung fu) in the traditional sense of achievement through great effort. (see MDBG dictionary entry two words are combined to describe systems to cultivate and balance life energy, especially for health.[1]

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Although the term qigong () has been traced back to Taoist literature of the early Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD), the term qigong as currently used was promoted in the late 1940s through the 1950s to refer to a broad range of Chinese self-cultivation exercises, and to emphasize health and scientific approaches, while de-emphasizing spiritual practices,mysticism, and elite lineages.[8][9][10]

History

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Main article: Qigong history With roots in ancient Chinese culture dating back more than 4,000 years, a wide variety of qigong forms have developed within different segments of Chinese society:[11] in traditional Chinese medicine for preventive and curative functions,[12] in Confucianism to promote longevity and improve moral character,[1] in Taoism and Buddhism as part of meditative practice,[5] and in Chinese martial arts to enhance fighting abilities.[9][13] Contemporary qigong blends diverse and sometimes disparate traditions, in particular the Taoist meditative practice of "internal alchemy" (Neidan ), the ancient meditative practices of "circulating qi" (Xing qi ) and "standing meditation" (Zhan zhuang ), and the slow gymnastic breathing exercise of "guiding and pulling" (Tao yin ). Traditionally, knowledge about qigong was passed from adept master to student in elite unbroken lineages, typically with secretive and esoteric traditions of training and oral-mind transmission.[14] Starting in the late 1940s and the 1950s, the mainland Chinese government tried to integrate disparate qigong approaches into one coherent system, with the intention of establishing a firm scientific basis for qigong practice. This attempt is considered by some sinologists as the start of the modern or scientific interpretation of qigong.[15][16][17] During the Great Leap Forward (19581963) and the Cultural Revolution (19661976), qigong, along with other traditional Chinese medicine, was encouraged in state-run rehabilitation centers and spread to universities and hospitals, but was under tight control with limited access among the general public. After the Cultural Revolution, qigong, along with t'ai chi, was popularized as daily morning exercise practiced en masse throughout China. Popularity of qigong grew rapidly during the Deng and Jiang eras of the 1970s through 1990s, with estimates of between 60 and 200 million practitioners throughout China. In 1985, the state-run "National Qigong Science and Research Organization" was established to regulate all of the nation's qigong denominations.[18] In 1999, in response to widespread revival of old traditions of spirituality, morality, and mysticism, the Chinese government took measures to enforce control of public qigong practice, including banning groups such as Zhong Gong andFalun Gong.[19][20] Through the forces of migration of the Chinese diaspora, tourism in China, and globalization, the practice of qigong spread from the Chinese community to the world. Today, millions of people around the world practice qigong and believe in the benefits of qigong to varying degrees. Similar to its historical origin, those interested in qigong come from diverse backgrounds and practice it for different reasons, including for exercise, recreation, preventive medicine, self-healing, self-cultivation, meditation, and martial arts training.

Training methods

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Qigong comprises breathing, physical, and mental training methods based on Chinese philosophy.[21] While implementation details vary, all qigong forms can be characterized as a mix of four types of training: dynamic, static, meditative, and activities requiring external aids. Dynamic training involves fluid movement, usually carefully choreographed, coordinated with breath and awareness. Examples include the slow stylized movements of T'ai chi ch'uan,Baguazhang, and Xing yi.[22] Other examples include graceful movement that mimics the motion of animals in Five Animals,[23] White Crane,[24] and Wild Goose (Dayan) Qigong.[25][26]
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Static training involves holding postures for sustained periods of time.[27] In some cases this bears resemblance to the practice of Yoga and its continuation in the Buddhist tradition.[28] For example Yiquan, a Chinese martial art derived from xingyiquan, emphasizes static stance training.[29] In another example, the healing form Eight Pieces of Brocade (Baduanjin qigong) is based on a series of static postures.[30] Meditative training utilizes breath awareness, visualization, mantra, and focus on philosophical concepts such as qi circulation.[31] For example, in the Confucius scholar tradition meditation is focused on humanity and virtue, with the aim of self-enlightenment. In various Buddhist traditions, the aim is to still the mind, either through outward focus, for example on a place, or through inward focus on the breath, a mantra, a koan, emptiness, or the idea of the eternal. In Taoist and traditional Chinese medicine practice, the meditative focus is on cultivating qi in dantian energy centers and balancing qi flow in meridian and other pathways.[11] Use of external agents Many systems of qigong training include the use of external agents such as ingestion of herbs, massage, physical manipulation, or interaction with other living organisms.[5] For example, specialized food and drinks are used in some medical and Taoist forms, whereas massage and body manipulation are sometimes used in martial arts forms. In some medical systems a qigong master uses non-contact treatment, purportedly guiding qi through his or her own body into the body of another person.[32]

Qi Sensation

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Eight typical sensations have been observed by qigong practitioners. [33] 1. Motion involuntary body movement or tingling sensation in muscle 2. Itch body becoming itchy 3. Lightness floating feeling 4. Heaviness the feeling of the body becoming very heavy or the feeling that a force is exerted on the body 5. Cold cold feeling 6. Warm warm feeling 7. Rough the feeling that the body is in contact with rough surfaces 8. Smooth the feeling that the body is in contact with smooth surfaces The acquiring time, the strength and extent of the feeling on the body as well as the exact sensation vary widely between individuals. The "mind" part of qigong is the mental guiding of qi sensation (i.e. qi) through the body. [34] All qigong forms unanimously suggest that one should not be afraid of or excited by these feelings. They are just normal sensations during qigong practice. Out of control qi sensation is known as qigong deviation.

Application

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People practice qigong for many different reasons, including for exercise and recreation, prevention and self-healing, meditation and self-cultivation, and training for martial arts.

Health

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Alternative medical systems


Acupuncture Bow en technique Chiropractic Homeopathy Naturopathic medicine Osteopathy Traditional m edicine Chinese Korean Mongolian Tibetan Unani Siddha Ayurveda
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As a form of gentle exercise, qigong is composed of movements that are typically repeated, strengthening and stretching the body, increasing fluid movement (blood, synovial, and lymph), enhancing balance and proprioception, and building awareness of how the
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Qigong - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

body moves through space.[3] In recent years a large number of books and videos have been published that focus primarily on qigong as exercise and associated health benefits. Practitioners range from athletes to the physically challenged. Because it is low impact and can be done lying, sitting, or standing, qigong is accessible for disabled persons, seniors, and people recovering from injuries.

Previous NCCAM dom ains Whole medical systems Mind-body interventions Biologically based therapies Manipulative therapy Energy therapies
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As a healing art, qigong practitioners focus on prevention and self-healing, traditionally viewed as balancing the body's energy meridians and enhancing the intrinsic capacity of the body to heal.[12] Qigong has been used extensively in China as part oftraditional Chinese medicine, and is included in the curriculum of Chinese Universities.[35] Qigong is now recognized as a form of complementary andalternative medicine.[36][37] There are three main forms of qigong used to complement medical treatment: 1) Qigong exercises (also called "internal Qigong") performed by individuals for general health or treatment of disease, 2) Qigong massage by a trained Qigong practitioner to treat specific injuries and illnesses (e.g. autism);[38] and 3) External qigong in which a trained practitioner focuses healing energy on patients without touching them.[39]

Meditation and self-cultivation

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Qigong is practiced for meditation and self-cultivation as part of various philosophical and spiritual traditions. As meditation, qigong is a means to still the mind and enter a state of consciousness that brings serenity, clarity, and bliss.[5] Many practitioners find qigong, with its gentle focused movement, to be more accessible than seated meditation.[4] Qigong for self-cultivation can be classified in terms of traditional Chinese philosophy: Confucianism Qigong provides a means to become a Junzi () through awareness of morality.[40][41] Taoism Qigong provides a way to achieve longevity and spiritual enlightenment,[42] as well as a closer connection to the natural world.[43] Buddhism Qigong is part of a spiritual path that leads to spiritual enlightenment or Buddhahood.[44]

Martial arts training

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The practice of qigong is an important component in both internal and external style Chinesemartial arts.[5] Focus on qi is considered to be a source of power as well as the foundation of the internal style of martial arts (Neijia). T'ai chi ch'uan, Xing yi, and Baguazhang are representative of the types of Chinese martial arts that rely on the concept of qi as the foundation. [45] Extraordinary feats of martial arts prowess, such as the ability to withstand heavy strikes (Iron Shirt, ) [46] and the ability to break hard objects (Iron Palm, ) [47][48] are abilities attributed to qigong training.

Forms

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There are numerous qigong forms. 75 ancient forms that can be found in ancient literature and also 56 common or contemporary form have been described in a qigong compendium.[49] The list is by no means exhaustive. Many contemporary forms were developed by people who had recovered from their illness after qigong practice. In 2003, the Chinese Health Qigong Association officially recognized four health qigong forms:[50] Muscle-Tendon Change Classic (Y Jn Jng ).[51][52]
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Five Animals (Wu Qin Xi ).[53] Six Healing Sounds (Liu Zi Jue ).[54] Eight Pieces of Brocade (Ba Duan Jin ).[55] In 2010, the Chinese Health Qigong Association officially recognized five additional health qigong forms:[56] Tai Chi Yang Sheng Zhang (): a tai chi form from the stick tradition. Shi Er Duan Jin (): seated exercises to strengthen the neck, shoulders, waist, and legs. Daoyin Yang Sheng Gong Shi Er Fa (): 12 routines from Daoyin tradition of guiding and pulling qi. Mawangdui Daoyin (): guiding qi along the meridians with synchronous movement and awareness. Da Wu (): choreographed exercises to lubricate joints and guide qi. Other commonly practiced qigong styles and forms include the following: Soaring Crane Qigong[57] Wisdom Healing Qigong[58] Pan Gu Mystical Qigong[59] Wild Goose Qigong[60] Dragon and Tiger Qigong[61] Primordial Qigong (Wujigong)[62][63]

Theory

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Traditional view
Main article: Qi

Traditionally, the central focus of qigong practice is to cultivate and balance qi as it affects mind (), body (), and spirit ().[11][64] In Chinese philosophy, the concept of qi as a form of pervasive life energy includes original qi that a person has at birth, and qi a person acquires from air, water, food, sunlight, and interaction with the environment.[65][66] A person is believed to become ill or die when qi becomes diminished or unbalanced. Health is believed to be returned by rebuilding qi, eliminating qi blockages, and correcting qi imbalances. Main article: Traditional Chinese medicine
Qigong practitioners in Brazil

Traditional Chinese medicine focuses on tracing and correcting underlying disharmony, in terms of deficiency and excess, using the complementary and opposing forces of yin and yang, to create a balanced flow of qi. Qi is believed to be cultivated and stored in three maindantian energy centers and to travel through the body along twelve main meridians, with numerous smaller branches and tributaries. The main meridians correspond to twelve main organs (Zng f). Qi is balanced in terms of yin and yang in the context of the traditional system of Five Phases (Wu xing ).[11][12] These traditional concepts do not translate readily to modern science and medicine.

Principles

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Whether viewed from the perspective of exercise, health, philosophy, or martial arts training, several main principles emerge concerning the practice of qigong:[1][3][4] Intentional movement: careful, flowing balanced style Rhythmic breathing: slow, deep, coordinated with fluid movement
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Awareness: calm, focused meditative state Visualization: of qi flow, philosophical tenets, aesthetics 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 The most advanced practice is generally considered to be with little or no motion.

Contemporary view

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Similar to the subject of efficacy of Traditional Chinese medicine, the chasm between the Eastern tradition of qi and the Western scientific viewpoints is not insurmountable if the analysis is limited to the effect of qigong practice on biological processes without demanding a material interpretation of qi. Some have argued for an interpretation of qi as a metaphor for biological processes [67][68] or as part of the field of energy medicine.[69]

Health benefits

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Claims and medical research

Qigong has been purported to enhance health and well-being with many benefits, including improving cardiovascular function, healing specific acute diseases, and increasing longevity.[1] Many of these claims are supported only by anecdotal evidence, traditional lore, and teachings in master/student lineages.[14] Research examining health benefits of qigong is increasing, but there is little financial incentive to support research and still only a limited number of studies meet accepted medical and scientific standards of randomized controlled trials (RCT).[70] Overall, the evidence for the health effects for qigong has been largely inconclusive or contradictory, with almost all evidence based on poor quality data, making any firm conclusions impossible to reach.[6]

Individual reviews [edit source]


A systematic review of the effect of qigong exercises on hypertension found that the available studies were encouraging for the exercises to lower systolic blood pressure. However, an analysis of the studies that found these results showed that they were of relatively poor quality, with the lack of blinding raising the possibility of bias in the results, so no definitive conclusions could be reached.[71] A systematic review on the effect of qigong exercises on reducing pain concluded that "the existing trial evidence is not convincing enough to suggest that internal qigong is an effective modality for pain management." [72] Another systematic review which focused on external qigong and its effect on pain, concluded "that evidence for the effectiveness of external qigong is encouraging, though further studies are warranted" due to the small number of studies and participants involved which precluded any firm conclusions about the specific effects of qigong on pain.[73] A systematic review of the effect of qigong exercises on cancer treatment concluded "the effectiveness of qigong in cancer care is not yet supported by the evidence from rigorous clinical trials."[74] A separate systematic review that looked at the effects of qigong exercises on various physiological or psychological outcomes found that the available
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studies were poorly designed, with a high of bias in the results. Therefore, the authors concluded, "Due to limited number of RCTs in the field and methodological problems and high risk of bias in the included studies, it is still too early to reach a conclusion about the efficacy and the effectiveness of qigong exercise as a form of health practice adopted by the cancer patients during their curative, palliative, and rehabilitative phases of the cancer journey."[75] A 2010 literature review of qigong and tai chi exercises found positive results for qigong and tai chi in nine categories, including bone density, cardiopulmonary effects, physical function,falls and related risk factors, quality of life, self efficacy, patient reported outcomes,psychological symptoms, and immune function and inflammation. Studies that compared qigong and tai chi with other physical exercises found similar effects, and greatest effects were found in studies that compared qigong and tai chi to effects in low activity or inactive participants. Unlike the above systematic reviews, this study did not assess for the quality of the underlying trials.[70]

Mental health

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Many claims have been made that qigong can benefit or ameliorate mental health conditions,[70][76] including improved mood, decreased stress reaction, and decreased anxiety and depression. Most medical studies have only examined psychological factors as secondary goals, however various studies have shown significant benefits such as decrease in cortisol levels, a chemical hormone produced by the body to manage stress.[70] There are also claims that in some cases, in particular with improper teaching or improper technique, the practice of qigong can result in a mental condition known as Zou huo ru mo() or "qigong deviation" (), which, among other symptoms, can lead to a perception of an uncontrolled flow of qi in the body during or after practice.[77][78][79] Main article: Zou huo ru mo (medicine)

Controversy

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There is little controversy concerning the benefit of qigong when the definition of qigong is limited to a series of physical movements and a set of relaxation exercises. Conflict has arisen when the claims made by proponents of qigong border on the supernatural.[8][80] Some researchers have labeled the subject matter of qigong as a pseudoscience.[81] In addition, some claim that the origin and nature of qigong practice has led to misconceptions and misuses,[82] including psychiatric problems [17] and the formation of cults [8] Skepticism towards qigong is also applied to the field of Traditional Chinese medicine, and extends to the broader subject of alternative medicine. The basic problem is that the information available from these fields often does not fit scientific acceptability or medical interpretation, and is difficult to replicate using double-blind control studies. [81][82][83][84] [85][86] Skeptics contend that most of the benefits derived from Alternative medicine are, at best, derived from a placebo effect.[87] [88] The main arguments from the view of skeptics against the correlation between qigong practices and health-related results are: The existence of qi, or any form of vitalism, has not been independently verified in an experimental setting. Such a concept is not recognized in the biological sciences.[89] Demonstrations in martial arts such as breaking hard objects with strikes can be fully explained using physics, without reference to the concept of qi.[90][91] Reported claims of supernatural abilities appear to be tricks more suited to magic shows than to any genuine scientific discipline.[8][92][93][94][95][96] Personal benefits for some qigong masters might have provided them with an incentive to exaggerate their claims.[8]
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Shifting views

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Traditionally, qigong training has been esoteric and secretive, with knowledge passed from adept master to student in lineages that maintain their own unique detailed interpretations and methods.[14] Over the centuries, a diverse spectrum of qigong forms developed in different segments of Chinese society,[9] with emphasis on meditative practice by scholars, and gymnastic or dynamic practice by the working masses.[97] Disparate approaches to qigong were merged as part of the cultural change that occurred as China modernized.[15] In contemporary China, the emphasis of qigong practice has shifted away from traditional philosophy, spiritual attainment, and folklore, and increasingly to health benefits, traditional medicine and martial arts applications, and a scientific perspective.[8][10] Qigong is now practiced by millions worldwide, primarily for its health benefits, though many practitioners have also adopted traditional philosophical, medical, or martial artsperspectives, and even use the long history of qigong as evidence of its effectiveness.[4][11]

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