What is it?
Qigong is an ancient Chinese form of movement, meditation, and breathing that is practiced by over 200 million people everyday. Qigong is thought to stimulate and balance the flow of qi, or vital life energy, along the energy pathways, known as meridians.
Qigong can be practiced by anyone whether they are sick or healthy, young or old. The exercises can be adapted to the abilities of the individual. While most qigong exercises are performed standing, they can also be done while walking, sitting, in a wheelchair, or even lying down.
Chi is described as an energy that moves in the body. Without the movement of chi energy, it is thought that a person's healthy balance cannot be maintained and disease can take hold. Qigong helps treat illnesses and helps prevent future illness by restoring the free movement of chi.
There are at least 3000 specific qigong exercises. They range from simple movements to help balance a person's breathing to complex movements. Most qigong exercises consist of slow controlled movements and look like they are done in slow motion.
Many instructional books and videos can teach a newcomer the basics of qigong. Most experts suggest that you start with group lessons.
A typical qigong class usually begins with an exercise to prepare the mind and body to be receptive to the benefits of qigong. The remaining exercises focus on breathing and movements geared to build the qi energy and move it through the body. Classes are usually held two times a week for about 60 minutes a class. Teachers may instruct you to practice in the morning and evening during the rest of the week.
Proponents of qigong consider it effective to help improve many conditions. These include digestive problems, headaches, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), diabetes, premenstrual syndrome, asthma, arthritis, insomnia, pain, depression, anxiety, cancer, heart disease, and others. A Chinese study revealed that daily qigong practice lowered blood pressure, pulse rates, and oxygen demands. Other studies have shown improved cure rates in cancer patients and objective improvements in vision problems.
Another type of qigong is called external qigong and is practiced by qigong masters primarily in China. In this type of qigong, a master emits his own qi to heal another person. This type of qigong is used with severely ill patients. Their illness has caused a stoppage or low level of qi in their body. Proponents believe that external qigong can be a powerful stimulant toward healing. In the 1980's, a Chinese scientist at the National Electro Acoustics Laboratory discovered that they could identify and measure low frequency acoustic waves emitted from qigong master's hands. These waves were 100 times more intense than a normal healthy person and 1000 times more intense than someone with a severe illness. Patients receiving external qigong also perform their own qigong exercises to promote their own qi.
Qigong classes are offered in adult education classes, community centers, YMCAs, and some hospitals. You may also ask an acupuncturist or other alternative practitioner for a referral.
- American Foundation of Traditional Chinese Medicine (415) 776-0502
- East-West Academy of Healing Arts (415) 788-2227
- Qigong Institute (650) 323-1221
- Qigong Universal (213) 487-2672
- The Healing Tao Center (516) 367-2701
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Last Updated: 1/4/2011