Qigong (Chi Kung) is one of the so-called “Internal Arts” and also one of the four major branches of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). The term Qigong itself was actually coined in fairly modern times and describes a series of exercises based on more ancient forms among which we find Xing Qi and Daoyin. As with so many ancient things in Chinese culture, Qigong’s birth is attributed to different authors according to which legend you prefer to accept. One thing all these legends have in common is the concept that Qigong serves to improve the circulation and balance of Qi (see definition below) in the body and therefore to improve and maintain health.
The name Qigong itself is composed of two characters in Chinese, the first being Qi (pronounced “chee”) and the second being “Gong” (pronounced “gung”) which means “to work” or “to develop”, hence, Qigong is the art of developing Qi. As we will see later, everything and everybody is composed of Qi, so everyone automatically has Qi. Qigong serves to strengthen the body’s Qi and develop certain qualities of the Qi itself.
The word “Qi” can be translated in various ways, the most common of which appear to be “air” (or “gas”) and “vital energy” (this definition fits nicely with the traditional Chinese character for Qi () that combines the character for “rice” () and two lines that represent steam rising from the rice). However, according to the philosophy underlying Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Taijiquan and Qigong, all of the universe (including us, of course) is made of Qi. Solid matter is a very condensed form of Qi, liquids are a less dense form of Qi, gases are an even less dense form of Qi, energy is an even more rarefied form of Qi, etc.
It is certainly worth noting that while this philosophy is thousands of years old, it tallies closely with the theories regarding subatomic particles in modern physics.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the uninhibited circulation of Qi and blood is crucial for a good state of health and Qigong favors this circulation. In fact, according to TCM, Qi is the driving force of life. At the same time, the mind benefits in tranquillity and serenity through the practice of Qigong.
Initial experimentation in the West has shown that Qigong shows benefits in the following cases:
|High Blood Pressure||Gastritis||Stress||Chronic Pain||Asthma|
|Quality of Life||Parkinsons||Muscular Distrophy||and many more…|
All the styles and schools of Qigong have in common the central goal of improving the natural free flow of Qi (“vital energy”, “breath”, “the fundamental component of everything”) in the body in order to obtain various results. In Qigong, we use the following practices in order to achieve results:
- Relaxation – the circulation of Qi in the body is obstructed by tension in the muscles, tendons and ligaments. Therefore, one of the basic principles of Qigong is relaxation. A clear concept and theoretically very easy to achieve, but quite difficult to put into practice.
- Breathing – the deep abdominal breathing used in Qigong helps fill and cleanse the inferior lobes of the lungs and at the same time, massages the internal organs.
- Focusing – concentration the attention on breathing, on the Dan Tian (an area where energy can be accumulated) or other points aids the circulation of Qi and its accumulation.
- Movements – the slow movements of opening and closing, expansion and condensation, stretching and relaxing, help melt the accumulated tensions in the muscles, tendons and ligaments, improving the circulation of Qi.
Thousands of schools and styles developed over the scores of centuries of the history of Qigong. For example, there are schools of Martial Art Qigong, Medical Qigong, Qigong for Maintaning Health, and more. At the Oriental Health Academy, we teach two of them:
Longmen (Dragon Gate) – Master Ellis is one of a handful of people that has been accredited by Dr. Xu Guo Rong (22nd generation Grand Master of this style) to teach Longmen Qigong.
Wubaomen Qigong (Wudang Qigong ) – Master Ellis has been accredited to teach this style by the second generation Grand Master and son of its founder, Master Sun Junqing
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