Chi Kung (Qi Gong) is an embodied healing and spiritual practice that involves gentle movement, stretching, focused breath, whole body relaxation and meditative awareness. This practice originated with the indigenous people of Asia, about 7000 years ago, as a form of prayer and communion with nature. At present, Qi Gong is practiced all over the world as a method of healing oneself and others, enhancing athletic and martial arts capabilities, as well as cultivating Spiritual awareness and a deeper connection with nature.
Also called Chinese Yoga, Qi Gong is known for it’s low impact exercise, gentle and fluid movements and scientifically proven health benefits. It is no wonder that Qi Gong has become very popular. In the last two decades an increased availability of instructors has made it possible for so many people to cultivate a practice and transform their lives. As long as the quality of instruction stays high, Qi Gong will continue to spread and evolve in the coming decades.
What does Qi Gong mean?
The term Qi Gong is actually fairly modern and basically means “energy work” or working with one’s Qi (energy). In Chinese, the word Qi is rarely used by itself. Qi usually follows another word like Liver Qi, Heart Qi and is used to how strong, powerful or healthy something is. When it is used by itself, Qi usually is used to refer to sources of energy like gasoline or to the atmosphere. I bring this up to help you appreciate something about understanding Chinese concepts is English.
In English we have the unconscious habit of thinking in terms of nouns or objects and things we can move around. In the case of Qi we are left with the understanding that Qi is actually a literal substance that moves through invisible tubes called meridians. With this perspective it seems reasonable to believe that if we practice Qi Gong properly and long enough we can store more Qi than other people and become powerful in some way. I am not saying this is untrue or impossible, I am just suggesting there is a lot more going on.
Again, in Chinese, the word Qi by itself has historically been used to describe air or the atmosphere. Not in the sense of some air, like some air you could put in a jar, but more in the sense of what air is doing. Until recently no one knew that there was an oxygen carbon dioxide cycle in the atmosphere. Humans and animals breath in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide, while trees and plants breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen. Which works out nicely for everybody.
For the last few thousand years Qi Gong practitioners were aware that if you practiced in a forest (lots of oxygen), next to the ocean (more negative ions) on a mountain top or in the desert you would notice a difference in the quality of Qi (the energy in the atmosphere). Depending on how you are feeling you may have chosen to enjoy some Forest Qi or some Ocean Qi. In English the word Qi is probably better thought of as the potential influence of something or someplace. Your Liver Qi is a description of how well the potential capacity of how your liver will influence your digestion, your immune system, your kidneys or your health in general.
So, the word Qi can be used in a lot of ways, but with respect to Qi Gong practice I don’t recommend thinking of Qi as “invisible stuff”. The amazing things that one feels from Qi Gong practice are not magical, they are natural aspects of physiology that occur with relaxation, deep breathing, meditative mental clarity and focused attention. In my experience, our natural and scientifically provable potential to heal and develop profound abilities is what is magical about Qi Gong.
In Chinese, the term Gong usually means work, but more precisely it means a meritorious act. Gong is work that makes a difference, that helps people in some meaningful way. The term Qi Gong is actually used to describe a certain relation ship with the practices involved. Qi Gong really means that, at the moment we are choosing to try and heal or improve some aspect of ourselves or another person. Historically, the system of practice that is presented on this website, has been called Dao Yin.