Eastern philosophies place a primary importance on the connection between mind and body that’s not often present in Western healthcare. This principle is what makes disciplines such as yoga so effective for your overall well-being. Qi-Gong is another practice that pays remarkable dividends in improved quality of life.
What Does “Qi-Gong” Mean?
Qi, pronounced “chee”, may already be a familiar word to you. The term is given to the life force found in all objects throughout the universe. Gong, pronounced “gung”, refers to a skill that is developed through repetition. Taken together, Qi-Gong is a practice that focuses on cultivating balance within your life energy.
Qi-Gong Through the Years
Qi-Gong developed in China and contains elements of medicine, philosophy and martial arts from that country. The practice began more than 4,000 years ago, with branches corresponding to different segments like Confucianism and Buddhism. Much like yoga, traditions were passed down between instructor and student.
During the 1940s and 1950s, the Chinese government attempted to integrate the variety of forms into a more cohesive practice. It was also during this time that the name “Qi-Gong” was formally bestowed on the system. Modern Qi-Gong does combine elements and traditions from the many disparate branches.
The government began exercising control over public practice of Qi-Gong in the 1960s and 1970s. But post-Cultural Revolution, it became a popular morning exercise performed in groups across the country. A more formal crackdown occurred in 1999 in response to Qi-Gong’s tremendous growth in popularity. The Chinese Health Qi-Gong Association was created to establish state-approved standards for training and practice.
Since the opening of China’s borders, globalization has spread the principles of Qi-Jong throughout the world. Today millions of people practice a form of this ancient art for reasons ranging from self-healing to meditation to exercise.
Elements of Qi-Gong
All forms of Qi-Gong fall into one of three categories:
- Martial, which focuses on physical improvement
- Medical, which provides healing for yourself or others
- Spiritual, which facilitates personal enrichment and enlightenment
Qi-Gong novices start by learning a series of movements and their corresponding breathing techniques. Once these postures have been perfected, they work on creating a flow of energy between the various poses in moving meditation. Some of the poses are meant to be held for a period of time during still mediation in order to increase strength and energy.
Finally, sitting meditation provides a method to concentrate on the harmony of breath, mind and body. Visualization is often used to enhance all three meditations by creating a means to guide the flow of energy.
Just as with yoga, Qi-Gong is a lifestyle that provides increasingly rich rewards with regular practice. The gentle movements enable most individuals to participate regardless of age or physical condition. Qi-Gong is perfect if you’re looking for a safe, effective way to improve your mental, spiritual and physical quality of life.