What is Qigong?

氣功

With Qigong classes starting at Lumina, many people may be wondering just what is Qigong?

The word Qigong (pronounced “Chee-Gung”) in Chinese is made up of two characters – the one for “Qi” and the one for “Gong”.

“Qi” translates into “vital energy”. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Qi is the vital energy that animates our life. This is the same energy that acupuncture works with. In fact acupuncture, Qigong and T’ai Chi all come from the same background and are based on the same philosophies.

The word “Gong” translates into gaining expertise after consistent, applied effort. Basically it means getting good at something after a great deal of practice.

As a side note, the word “Gong” is actually the same word as “Kung” as in Kung-Fu. In the US and other countries the term Kung Fu typically refers to a variety of Chinese martial arts. However, more accurately, Kung Fu (or Gongfu) means something more akin to gaining expertise through time and effort and can relate to a person who has gained that expertise in any skill at all, even those not related to martial arts. The more accurate term for martial arts would be “Wushu”. However, that is less familiar to English speaking populations, so Kung Fu is often used.

So, Qigong is the development of skill working with our internal, vital energy or “Qi” through consistent practice.

There are innumerable styles of Qigong. Some are very traditional such as the Qigong sets “Eight Layered Brocade” and “The Five Animal Frolics”. Some say that these sets of exercises were created more than one thousand years ago. Others styles are of more modern origins with some being created by recent or current day masters of martial arts, meditation or traditional chinese medicine. Styles can range from very hard physical movements, to more soft and fluid movements, to stationary standing postures, or even sitting meditations. All styles of Qigong focus on the characteristics of proper posture, breathing technique and focused mind intent.

Illustrations of movements from the "Ba Duan Jin"  or Eight-Layered Brocade.

Illustrations of movements from the “Ba Duan Jin” or Eight-Layered Brocade.

Often Qigong (especially the movement oriented varieties) is used as a warm-up for martial arts. In fact we have often used the “Eight-Layered Brocade” style of Qigong as a warm-up for our T’ai Chi classes. Qigong can be implemented this way, however, it can also be a standalone, focused practice.

In our classes, we explore various types of Qigong including sets of movement exercises, as well as stationary meditative postures. Our practice will focus on enhancing our health, calming our minds and connecting with our energy and our spirit. As we explore different styles, we will delve deeper into the meaning and purpose of the various movements. We will also work with the concept of “Yi”, or mind intent, to move energy throughout our body.

While we will be learning movements and principles in the classes, it will be very beneficial to practice on your own. The benefits of Qigong will be most effectively realized through regular practice.

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