What is Qigong? ∞
There are millions of Qigong practitioners around the world, but few can answer this question exactly. This is because Qigong varies widely in form and function.
To begin with, Qi has been understood by many people in the primary sense of the word as the air we breathe in and, consequently, Qigong as 'breathing exercises'.
Qigong is a prophylactic method which began to be developed in ancient China and is now an important part of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Qigong is a branch of learning concerned with the exercise of Qi.
Qigong is an exercise of one's consciousness. It is in this sense that Qigong may be defined as 'a self-training method through tempering consciousness to improve health of both body and mind'.
Qigong is a kind of exercise that produces various effects. The most basic effect is the prevention and cure of diseases. Qigong exercise can stimulate the exchange of information inside and outside the human body, promote the accumulation of energy for sustaining life, and increase the organism's resistance to diseases.
Qigong is closely connected with traditional Chinese philosophical thoughts. It embodies much of the ancient Chinese philosophers'; thinking about man and his relations with nature, about the composition and development of the world. Qigong theories are based on the philosophical concept of Dao, which is concerned with revealing the laws governing the movement of things in the world. In this sense, Qigong is a science in its own right.
In ancient times Qigong was known by many other names such as:
- Daoyin (physical and breathing exercises)
- Tuna (expiration and inspiration exercises)
- Zuochan (sitting in meditation)
- Yangsheng (nourishing the vital principle)
Xingqi (promoting the circulation of qi)
It was widely practised by people in the religious, medical and martial arts circles, mainly for the purpose of cultivating mental calmness, improving physical fitness and prolonging life. Ancient Chinese documents contain a large amount of writing on Qigong but the term 'Qigong' was not formally introduced until the 1950's.
What is Qi? ∞
The word Qi has several meanings.
First, Qi refers to the air breathed in and out by man. Oxygen from the air has direct bearings on the functions of the human body. Through Qigong methods, we can improve the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in our bodies.
Second, Qi is the medium by which the various parts of the human body, including the organs and tissues, are connected and interact with one another.
Third, Qi is a kind of infinitely small substance existing in the human body. Qi is invisible to the eye but forms the very essence of human life. Qigong exercises contribute to the growth of this important substance, thus adding to one's life-force.
What is the aim of Qigong? ∞
Put simply the aim of Qigong exercise is to train the body and mind, providing holistic training for self-reliance, self adjustment, body building, prophylaxis, treating diseases, invigorating and strengthening the constitution, resisting premature ageing, and prolonging life.
Qigong is effective in treating some chronic diseases especially hypertension, coronary heart disease, ulcers, neurasthenia and bronchitis. However, it is unrealistic to think of it as a cure-all. No therapeutic method is interchangeable with another, each having its merits. Qigong can reduce severity of disease and promote earlier recovery without any special equipment. So it is highly desirable to employ Qigong clinically.
Apart from health preservation it helps enlighten man's thinking and improve his intelligence. Promoting a spiritual path.
It is also good for moulding one's temperament. Going for a state of supreme tranquillity, it relieves our mind of tension and pressure brought to bear on us by daily life, thus enabling us to achieve a better mental balance.
What makes an exercise Qigong? ∞
There are many forms of exercise, but all forms of Qigong exercise are all designed to regulate three things: Body, Breath and Mind.
Body Regulation ∞
This involves both the bodily form and the condition of the internal organs. In Qigong exercise, a number of requirements are prescribed for the manner of holding and moving various parts of the body. By adopting the bodily form as required, the internal organs will be placed in the right positions for performing their functions and relieved of different kinds of tension, thus avoiding unnecessary loss of energy. Appropriate bodily movements will also help exercise the internal organs and improve their functions.
Breath Regulation ∞
Normally we breathe with the nose and the mouth in a natural way. In Qigong exercise, however, breathing is done in a conscious manner according to various patterns with deep, even and rhythmic breaths in both inhalation and exhalation.
Mind Regulation ∞
Through regulation of the mind or consciousness (by such means as meditation), Qigong exercise of the advanced forms helps to regulate the physiological functions of man. Since all the physical activities of man are controlled by the cerebrum, 'regulating the mind' is actually exercising the cerebral nerves.
The most important of the 'three regulations' is the exercise of consciousness. Of course, qigong also requires physical exercise and regulation of breathing; but these are not so important as the exercise of consciousness. Herein lies the main difference between qigong and other physical exercise.
In short ∞
In short, Qi is a kind of energy and information while Qigong is a way of exercise for regulating the whole body, mentally as well as physically. It seeks to improve man's faculties in an all-round way. But qigong is more than just a kind of exercise; it is also a way of knowing man and nature, a branch of learning as well.