What is Qigong?

Qigong (Chi Kung) means cultivating energy. It is a system practiced for health maintenance, healing and increasing vitality. All the types of Qigong, involve a posture, (static and dynamic), breathing techniques, and mental focus. Over the time, five distinct traditions of Qigong has been developed in China, each with its own theories and characteristics.
Qigong is a traditional Chinese healing procedure that combines several gentle physical movements, breathing techniques, and meditation (that integrates the mind and the body) to strengthen the body, and make it more energetic and healthy.
Pronounced as Chee-Gung, this healing method dates back to 2,500 – 5000 years. The meaning of Qigong can be understood by breaking it up into two words that make it, Qi meaning life force and Gong meaning the development of skill through practice, over a time period. As such, this procedure revolves around creating and utilizing healthy energies for the purpose of physical and mental healing.
Here, we attempt to understand what Qigong is, by looking into the elements that comprise this procedure.
How is It Practiced
As mentioned earlier, Qigong is a mixture of several practices that contribute towards both, physical and mental healing. Here are the elements that go into the making of this extremely effective healing procedure.
Static Qigong
The procedure involves holding a posture for a certain time period. Doing so helps develop immense physical and mental stamina over time.
Dynamic Qigong
This process involves performing several exercises in order to enhance flexibility and to circulate qi or energy in the body.
Meditative Qigong
Coming to the aspect of developing mental focus and strength, the importance of meditation in this healing technique cannot be overlooked. The meditative techniques in this procedure have been adapted from Tao Buddhism.
Qigong breathing is an important element of qigong technique. Other elements may be the consumption of specific foods and drinks to enhance qi, massages, and the intervention of an external healer to enhance the flow of qi throughout the body.
Where is the Technique Applied
There are several areas in which the methods of Qigong are applied that will help us understand the effects and benefits of this practice, and what this healing method is good for. In all these areas, there are three elements that form the core of these styles, i.e., specific postures, breathing exercises, and concentration and focus. These aspects have been described in detail below.
Medical Qigong
This process is applied in order to prevent any chronic health conditions that one may be prone to developing. According to the beliefs of this practice, stress is the prime reason behind most health problems. Stress also affects an individual’s qi. By targeting the root cause of these problems, medical or healing Qigong, also known as Yi Gong, aims to prevent and treat several health conditions.
Dealing with stress also helps control problems, such as anxiety, fear, and frustration that are also known to result in health problems, such as high blood pressure and conditions of the heart. The various breathing techniques and exercises are practiced by oneself under the guidance of a Qigong healer.
Non-Contact or External Qi Healing
In this method, the healer taps healing energies from nature and serves as the agent through which, these energies are transferred into an individual. This process includes specific exercises that are known to enhance one’s openness and reception to the energies prevalent in nature. It is believed that this method can be used as a type of psychotherapy because it allows the healer to treat an individual without any form of contact.
For Spiritual Awareness
By practicing the meditation techniques that have been adapted from Buddhism, one can increase self-awareness, feel serene, and in harmony with the universe. The individual will be less affected by worldly happenings and more connected with the inner self by practicing spiritual Qigong.
For Development of Physical Strength
Also known as sports Qigong, in this area, the technique aims to improve flexibility, stamina, and the strength needed to perform various physical activities and sports. It also makes the individual less prone to injury and creates a sense of balance by which, all such physical activities and a variety of sports can be performed effectively.
To practice Qigong, it’s important that it be done under the guidance of a qualified healer. Though one may now be fairly aware of the breathing exercises or postures, this practice involves, when performed without guidance, it can have numerous side effects. This completely negates the purposes for which Qigong is practiced. When performed correctly, it can help alleviate several health problems, can provide mental relief, and can enhance focus and concentration in the individual performing it.

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