Qi translates as ‘energy’ or ‘breath’. It is what the Japanese call Ki (like in AiKiDo) and Hindus call Prana. Qi Gong means “working with the qi.” It is the ancient Chinese practice of becoming aware of this life energy and learning how to control its flow.
By focusing on your Qi,
You can become as soft as a Baby.
Dao De Jing (chap 10).
Qi Gong uses a series of postures, and movements linked with deep breathing as a meditative technique. The student learns to be aware of the inner workings of their own body and learns to restore a healthy balanced feeling of being. Even half-hour an hour each day will bring to you the dividends of better health, increased vitality, and peaceful alertness.
In an ancient story, a great flood covered much of China and its stagnant waters produced widespread disease. The legendary shaman-emperor Yu cleared the land and diverted the waters into rivers by dancing a bear dance and invoking the mystical power of the Big Dipper Constellation. As the waters subsided, people reasoned that movement and exercise can similarly cause the internal rivers to flow more smoothly, clearing the meridians of obstructions to health.
For Taoists Qi Gong is the ideal way to realise their goal of ‘wuji’, an empty, alert, boundless state of consciousness. The harmony of Yin and Yang: inside and outside, earthly and spiritual, stillness and activity. Spirit and body cultivated in balance.
Qi Gong is a preventive and self-healing aspect of Chinese medicine and is still used today, to teach patients how to improve their own health. A major early text on Qi Gong, the ‘Dao-yin Tu’ (168 B.C.) contains illustrations of forty-four Qi Gong postures prescribed by ancient Chinese doctors to cure specific ailments.
One of the founding father of Chinese medicine, Hua Tuo (second century A.D.) was also one of the great early Qi Gong masters. His “Five Animal Frolics” imitate the movements of the Crane, Bear, Monkey, Deer, and Tiger and are still practiced today. Hua Tuo said that: “just as a door hinge will not rust if it is used, so the body will attain health by gently moving and exercising all of the limbs”.
Qigong is practiced by more than 80 million Chinese people and probably by tens of thousands in the United States and Europe. Its practice will improve performance in the martial arts or any sport. It will bring you health, harmony and balance. Qi Gong techniques are suitable for male or female, young or old, fit or disabled.
Though there are many styles of Qi Gong all are based on similar principles: relaxed, rooted posture; straight, supple spine; diaphragmatic respiration (breathing into the abdomen, expanding on inhalation, retracting on exhalation); fluid movements without excess effort; and tranquil awareness.