Is QiGong for You?

QiGong (pronounced Chee Kung) is a Chinese discipline that combines movement, meditation, and breathing. Though the phrase Qigong was coined in 1948, the practice is more than 5000 years old. Designed to promote health and relaxation, QiGong is a mind-body practice of slow movements, mental focus, and coordinated deep abdominal breathing that boosts and balances a person's vital energy, or "qi".

According to the QiGong Institute, a nonprofit educational organization, Qigong is the precursor to all Chinese energy practices. The word, pronounced "chee gong," is a combination of two ideas: "Qi" means air, breath of life, or vital energy of the body, and "gong" means the self-discipline skill of working, cultivating, and balancing Qi. The art of Qigong consists of intention, meditation, relaxation, physical movement or posture, mind-body integration, and breathing exercises. Kung-fu, vinyasa yoga, Taichi and many martial arts are forms of QiGong.

QiGong focuses on aligning posture, breathing, and awareness through movement. Like Tai Chi, the exercises are very slow, deliberate, and precise.  It's not athletic or vigorous like some forms of western yoga, but instead, emphasizes using each part of the body correctly.  There are many different QiGong styles and exercises and all are equally beneficial. Find a style that you like or mix and match different styles.

So, how do you learn QiGong? There are classes available all over the world that teach the basic movements and coordinated breathing.  Many acupuncture, Chinese medicine, yoga, and martial arts centers offer QiGong classes.  Or, you can buy DVDs or log onto online classes to learn exercise series with Zen-like names like Flowing Motion, Rolling the Ball, Inner Rivers Flowing, Flying Wild Goose and Wave Hands in Clouds. 

QiGong is not an athletic, or competitive sport.  There are no extra points for doing it better or at an advanced level.  In fact, the QiGong Institute warns students to "be wary of teachers who want more money to show you each new level of Qigong, teachers whose practice consists of trying to impress you through seemingly incredible physical feats, and those who claim that you are getting the benefits of Qigong from them, and not directly from your practice."

The longer you do QiGong, the easier it gets. But the benefits start immediately and come from practicing regularly, not from developing advanced skill.  According to millions of practitioners over thousands of years, the benefits of this latest rage last a lifetime.


QiGong Institute