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WHAT IS QIGONG? Click to read the longer article What is Qigong?

Qigong (also spelled Ch'i Kung) is a powerful system of healing and energy medicine from
China. It is the art and science of using breathing techniques, gentle movement, and meditation
to cleanse, strengthen, and circulate the life energy (qi). Qigong practice leads to better health
and vitality and a tranquil state of mind. In the past, qigong was also called nei gong (inner work)
and dao yin (guiding energy).

How do I say it?


Qi pronounce chee
Gong pronounce gung, as in lung

How old is Qigong?


The documented history of qigong goes back approximately 2,500 years. However Chinese
archaeologists and historians have found references to qigong-like techniques at least five
thousand years old.

What about Taiji Quan (Tai Chi)?


Taiji Quan is a style of qigong. It is graceful, relaxed, slow, and fluid, like a slow- motion dance.
Unlike some qigong methods that exercise specific systems or parts of the body-- nervous
system, endocrine system, heart, kidneys-- Taiji Quan is a whole body, whole mind exercise. It
treats health systemically, restoring the body to its original "program", uncorrupted by stress,
pollution, and disease. The Qigong Research & Practice Center offers training in all aspects and
levels of Taiji Quan.

Why study Qigong?


Qigong has four major areas of application:

1. Healing Qigong (Yi Gong). Healing Qigong (sometimes translated "Medical Qigong") is the preventive and self-healing
aspect of Chinese medicine. We are all exposed to stress. Qigong teaches us how to control our reactions to stress so that life events do not
cause such symptoms as high blood pressure, frustration, or anxiety. Healthy people practice qigong to become super-healthy. Healers use
qigong to prevent "healer burn-out" and to maintain a positive presence.

2. External Qi Healing (Wai Qi Zhi Liao). Qigong includes a sophisticated system of health assessment and non-contact treatment
called External Qi Healing (EQH). The healer learns to tap into a well of healing energy in nature and "funnel" it through his or her
body. Unlike some purely intuitive systems, EQH includes exercises that increase sensitivity to energy fields and efficacy of
treatment. The more you practice External Qi Healing exercises and meditations, the more effective your healing treatment. Externa
Qi Healing techniques may be used as a stand alone form of wellness treatment or may be combined with massage, acupuncture,
Therapeutic Touch, osteopathy, or any other form of body-work. Because treatment is generally performed at a distance from the
body, EQH does not violate psychotherapists' professional ethics (which do not allow touching the patient) and is thus an ideal
adjunct to body-centered psychotherapy.

3. Sports Qigong (Wu Gong). In sports and martial arts, qigong is the key to strength, stamina, coordination, speed, flexibility, balance,
and resistance to injury. Qigong exercises can improve performance in any sport, improving the golf drive, tackling ability in football,
accuracy in tennis, and stamina in swimming.

4. Spiritual Qigong (Fo Gong, Tao Gong). As a spiritual discipline, qigong leads to self-awareness, tranquillity, and harmony with
nature. The spiritual aspect of qigong evolved from Taoism and Buddhism.

Lesser Known Categories

Art Qigong. In the arts, qigong leads to aesthetic sensitivity. Nature uses our eyes to see herself. The qigong practitioner feels such oneness
with nature that he or she feels as though the beautiful pine tree is expressing itself through the brush or poem. Students of theater, mime,
and other expressive arts practice qigong to increase confidence, physical and emotional control, and expressive ability.

Business Qigong. In the business world, qigong can lead to greater integrity, defined by brilliant Law Professor Julian Gresser as, "...a sense
of connectedness, coherence, wholeness, and vitality. Integrity is the capacity of every living thing to hold its own in the face of entropy,
disorder, and uncertainty, its link to the living world, its ability to carry on its life, however humble." (Piloting Through Choas, p. 8) Qigong
practitioners are more resistant to stress; make better decisions; encourage credibility, confidence and team spirit; and are far more efficient.
Most importantly, qigong is the ideal therapy for "hurry sickness"-- the habitual sense of time urgency-- a major risk factor for heart disease
and accelerated aging.

Who can benefit?

Because qigong includes both dynamic and gentle techniques that can be practiced from standing, seated, or supine postures, it is suitable
for young and old. Practices can be tailored to individual needs making it an ideal aid to recovery from illness or injury. Qigong is a form of
complementary medicine. It works well with other forms of therapy and should never be used as a substitute for necessary treatment by a
physician.

Is Qigong scientific?

Both China and the U.S. have hosted conferences for academic exchange of qigong research. Qigong has been shown to improve posture
and respiration, induce the relaxation response, cause favorable changes in blood chemistry, and improve self-awareness and concentration
Research suggests that Qigong may be beneficial for Asthma, Arthritis, Cancer, Cardiovascular Disease, Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia,
Headaches, Pain, and a wide variety of common ailments. External Qi Healing is effective for the same range of illnesses as acupuncture.

Benefits of Qigong | Qigong Article | Research on Qigong | Testimonials

WHAT IS QIGONG?
By Kenneth S. Cohen

We live in a field of qi, "vital breath" or "life energy." Yet, like a fish in water or a bird in flight, we are unaware of the medium that
supports us. Qigong means "working with the qi." It is the ancient Chinese art and science of becoming aware of this life energy and
learning how to control its flow through a precise choreography of posture, movement, respiratory technique, and meditation. Like
biofeedback, qigong teaches psychophysiological self-regulation; the student becomes aware of bodily functions conventionally
considered involuntary-- blood pressure, respiratory rate, even the flow of blood and nutrients to internal organs-- and learns to
restore a healthier balance. However, unlike biofeedback, no technical devices are needed. Qigong is one of the most cost-effective
self-healing methods in the world. The only investment needed is time, a half-hour to an hour each day; the dividends of better
health, increased vitality, and peaceful alertness accrue daily and are cumulative.

Qigong is like a great river fed by four major tributaries: shamanism, spirituality, medicine, and martial arts:

1. Shamanism:
An ancient text, The Spring and Autumn Annals, states that in mythic times a great flood covered much of China. Stagnant waters
produced widespread disease. The legendary shaman-emperor Yu cleared the land and diverted the waters into rivers by dancing a
bear dance and invoking the mystical power of the Big Dipper Constellation. As the waters subsided, people reasoned that
movement and exercise can similarly cause the internal rivers to flow more smoothly, clearing the meridians of obstructions to
health. Qigong-like exercises are found on ancient rock art panels throughout China. Chinese shamans used these exercises and
meditations to commune with nature and natural forces and to increase their powers of healing and divination.

2. Spirituality (Taoism and Buddhism):


A. Taoism. Qigong philosophy and techniques are mentioned in the classic of Taoist philosophy, the Dao De Jing, written in the
fourth century B.C. "By concentrating the qi and making your body supple, can you become like a child?" Qigong was the ideal way
for Taoists to realize their goal of wuji, an empty, alert, boundless state of consciousness, and xing ming shuang xiu, "spirit and
body cultivated in balance." Taoists and qigong practitioners were both looking for a harmony of yin and yang: inside and outside,
earthly and spiritual, stillness and activity. The majority of works on qigong are still found among the approximately 1,100 texts in
the Taoist Canon.
B. Buddhism. The Buddhist emphasis on tranquillity, awareness, and diligent practice are part of qigong. Several styles of qigong
were developed by Buddhists who needed an exercise and healing system to complement their lengthy seated meditations.

3. Medicine:
Chinese medicine includes acupuncture, herbalism, massage, diet, and qigong. Qigong is the preventive and self-healing aspect of
Chinese medicine and was used in the past, as today, to teach patients how to improve their own health. The major early text on
qigong is the Dao-yin Tu "Dao-yin Illustrations" (168 B.C.). Dao-yin is an ancient word for qigong. This work contains illustrations of
forty-four qigong postures prescribed by ancient Chinese doctors to cure specific ailments. The patriarch of Chinese medicine, Hua
Tuo (second century A.D.) was one of the great early qigong masters. His "Five Animal Frolics" imitate the movements of the
Crane, Bear, Monkey, Deer, and Tiger and are still practiced today. Hua Tuo said that just as a door hinge will not rust if it is used,
so the body will attain health by gently moving and exercising all of the limbs.

4. Martial Arts:
Qigong practice can improve performance in the martial arts or any other sport. Chinese martial
artists designed or helped to improve many qigong techniques as they looked for ways to increase
speed, stamina, and power, improve balance, flexibility, and coordination, and condition the body
against injury. Qigong was a major influence on the development of western gymnastics, thanks to
Jesuit P. M. Cibot's 1779 illustrated French translation of Taoist qigong texts: Notice du Cong-fou
[Kung-fu] des Bonzes Tao-see [Taoist priests]. Cibot's descriptions inspired Per Henrik Ling (1776-
1839) to create the first school of modern gymnastics in Sweden.

You can see why it is hard to find a simple definition for such a comprehensive system of mental
and physical development. Qigong is a spiritual practice with roots in shamanism and Taoism. It is a powerful method of self-healing
and a warm-up for any sport. It includes both exercise and meditation.

Qigong is practiced by more than 80 million Chinese people and probably by tens of thousands in the United States and Europe.
Qigong has been rigorously tested in controlled scientific experiments and clinical trials and is often used as an adjunct to
conventional allopathic medical treatment. Hypertensive patients who take medication and practice qigong fare better than controls
who only take the medication. Similarly, there is solid evidence that qigong can improve immune function and mental health, and
prevent disabilities that come with age. Qigong acts like Vitamin C, increasing the activity of an enzyme that helps to deactivate free
radicals, highly reactive chemicals that promote tissue degeneration and loss of memory. In 1995 the Journal of the American
Medical Association published evidence that Taiji Quan, a form of qigong, is effective at preventing loss of balance and falling
injuries among the elderly. Researchers at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine confirm that Taiji Quan works like aerobics at
reducing high blood pressure.

There are thousands of styles of qigong. Some are designed for general health and well-being and may be practiced every day for
a lifetime. Others are therapeutic and targeted to cure specific problems. Qigong techniques are suitable for men and women,
young and old, athletes and sedentary, and for the disabled. All styles are based on similar principles: relaxed, rooted posture;
straight, supple spine; diaphragmatic respiration-- the abdomen expanding on inhalation, retracting on exhalation; fluid movements
without excess effort; and tranquil awareness.

Quality is more important than quantity. Students are advised to learn one or two qigong styles that are enjoyable and effective.
Finding a qigong lao-shi, qigong teacher, is not an easy task. Although qigong is popular, the training is not standardized-- I do not
believe that it can or should be-- and both quality and qualifications can vary immensely from teacher to teacher. There are
unfortunately too many con-artists, charlatans, and magicians among our ranks, trying to impress the public with stunts of allegedly
supernatural qi-power such as pushing objects without touching them. Students should apply the same standards of professional
excellence to qigong teachers that they would apply to teachers of any other subject. A qigong lao-shi should be humble and
compassionate and open to questioning and dialogue. He or she has not arrived at a final goal, but is rather on a never-ending
quest for expanded potential and deeper understanding.

Benefits of Qigong | Qigong Article | Research on Qigong | Testimonials