Updated: Aug 23, 2021
‘What is Qigong?' is a question I find myself getting asked more and more often. With it’s origins dating back to an estimated 4,000 years and it’s firm place as a pillar of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), it remains a mystery to me as to why it’s yet to catch on in the west?!
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is built on the notion that all disease is a result of blockages of energy, and these blockages prevent the natural flow of energy, that is, the natural flow of life itself. TCM consists of various forms of herbal medicine, acupuncture, massage (tui na), exercise (qigong) and dietary therapy; and these have long been the traditions that have maintained the health and wellbeing for generations in the East.
The Chinese word ‘Qi’ (also chi; pronounced chee) is commonly translated to mean ‘life-force’ or ‘vital-energy’, that is the energy which is abundant in all of us and sustains and connects the whole universe. The Chinese word ‘Gong’ (also ‘Kung’) is commonly translated to mean ‘work’, so in essence, Qigong translates into ‘energy work’ or ‘energy cultivation’.
Beyond a mere physical exercise, Qigong combines movement, with breath and intention to cultivate and manipulate the flow of Qi through-out the body, whilst also drawing in Qi from the natural world; and expelling excess Qi, if or when required.
Ultimately Qigong is all about balance, harmony and flow, it’s rhythmic and its beautiful. It’s also the only exercise I have practiced where I feel like I’ve been through a strenuous workout, but yet am left feeling revitalised and full of energy afterwards. The contradiction seemingly appropriate when considering that the yin-yang balance sits at the heart of Qigong practice.
Beyond it’s obvious health benefits, Qigong is beautiful to both watch and practice, the more dynamic forms (See: White Tiger Qigong™) are smooth and graceful. Qigong is also accessible and can be easily practiced by beginners whilst allowing the more experienced practitioners to journey deeper.
You may have noticed ‘Qi’ being mentioned in the odd Kung Fu flick or more recently assuming a central role in Kung Fu Panda 3, ha! I’d go so far as to argue that the famous ‘Yoda’ from Star Wars was actually a Jedi Chi Master. My prediction, it’s only a matter of time before Qigong becomes the more popular alternative to Yoga (you heard it first here).