Qi Gong (Chi Kung) is a broad term that can be translated as ‘cultivation’ (gong) of ‘health, vitality or life energy’ (qi) and refers to a very wide range of practices with the common goal of cultivating vital energy and health.
This general term came into use in 20th Century China to describe various practises including martial arts exercises, health exercises, spiritual & meditative practices and others related to Chinese medicine.
Although it is a relatively recent term, it refers to practices which may date back thousands of years – the earliest known exercise chart in human culture is the ‘Dao Yin Tu’ (dated to 168 B.C.), which depicts an exercise system that is likely a distant relative of modern Qi Gong.
Qi Gong includes mobilsing exercises, self-massage, posture practice, movement forms, breathing, visualisation and meditative exercises.
The practice can help open the body and release tension, improve co-ordination, mobility, strength and increase mind-body-breath awareness. The fluid and relaxed movements can promote health, strength and stamina in a less stressful manner than other forms of exercise – as such, Qi Gong may be suitable for people of all ages, levels of health and fitness.
Yi Leads Qi – Perhaps the most fundamental principle in Qigong is that the mind leads energy, or energy follows intention. In Tai Chi & Qigong practice, this involves using the ‘feeling’ part of the mind – delving deeply into body sensations & breath, engaging imagination, intention and physical expression. Unifying the mind, body and breath is the essence of Qi Gong.
See also About Nei Gong section