What is Qigong?

Qigong (pronounced chee-gung) may have a relatively unfamiliar name but it’s a very practical exercise system which has been used for millennia across China.  Its aim is to prevent illness and improve or maintain optimum physical, mental and emotional health – a kind of medical kung fu or moving meditation, very similar to Tai Chi.

Photo by Laura Turner

Photo by Laura Turner

There are many different styles of qigong; many are based on those which are several thousand years old and rather like the famous martial arts systems which have stood the test of time, they have been passed down through generations within family lineages and the medical sphere in the Far East.

Almost all forms are practiced in a standing posture (although many can be practiced seated for those unable to stand) and are normally a combination of several different repeated movement sets involving things such as squatting, side-to-side weight transference, turning of the waist and circular arm and shoulder movements.

The main difference between qigong and something like aerobics is the specific attention paid to the interior of the body as well as the external muscle groups.  The aim is to cultivate awareness and mindfulness of things such as the breath, felt sensations in the body, posture, joints and emotions to improve health and wellbeing.

Photo by Laura Turner.

Photo by Laura Turner.

Some of the main benefits are:

  • cultivation of and improvement in energy levels
  • mindfulness through movement – building awareness of and increasing your mind and body connection
  • relaxation and calming of the nervous system
  • an increase in joint range of motion and a release of tension from muscles and tissue through gentle articulation, stretching and mobilisation of the joints including the shoulders, hips and spine and the "forgotten" joints – the elbows, shoulder blades, wrists and ankles
  • massaging and soft movement of the inside of the body (e.g. joints, organs)
  • smoothing your breath and linking it with movement
  • improvement of balance, coordination and proprioception
  • clears the body and mind from things such as sluggishness, fatigue and fuzzy headedness
  • low impact and adaptable to seated practice in the event of illness or injury

Therefore, it’s often used for:

  • joint pain, injury, stiffness or RSI
  • lack of energy, fatigue or sluggishness
  • an overactive mind
  • sleep issues
  • health problems caused by stress

In true Chinese paradoxical style these mindful exercises are energising yet calming, strengthening yet relaxing, invigorating yet low impact.

For more detailed information on the benefits of individual sets, please visit the styles taught page.