Qigong (“chee-gong”) is an over five-thousand year-old Chinese health method that combines slow graceful movements with mental concentration and breathing to increase and balance a person’s vital energy. It has been popularly referred to as Chinese yoga. (see section on Yoga)
The main focus of Qigong is eliminating deficiency (associated with chronic illness) and stagnation (indicated by pain) of your Qi (energy) through a combination of movement, breathing, and awareness. At first, the dynamic adjustment of posture, breath, and mind is only done during the time you set aside to do Qigong. With more practice, you’ll begin doing these adjustments throughout the day as Qigong becomes a natural part of your life and personal healthcare program. The physical world is one of Qi vibration, alternating between Yin and Yang energies, producing all physical things.
Yin Qigong exercises are expressed through relaxed stretching, visualization, and breathing. Yang Qigong exercises are expressed in a more aerobic or dynamic way. They are particularly effective for supporting the immune system. Qigong’s physical and spiritual routines move Qi energy through the Twelve Primary Channels and Eight Extra Channels, balancing it, smoothing the flow, strengthening it, and ultimately depositing it in a person’s internal bank of energy that is known as Dantian.
Dan Aka Elexir
Dan is said to pervade all things at all times and is the force which always nourishes the universe. Special areas where energy is stored in one’s body called Dantians.
There are three primary Dantians which are called Xia (lower dantian), Zhong (middle dantian), and Shang (upper dantian). Out of those three Dantians, lower Dantian is focus of out most importance. Xia or the lower dantian is related to the concept that the kidneys and genitals are directly above and below the abdomen area. These two points are considered to be extremely important to the health of people over the course of their lives.
The genitals are associated with reproduction and creative power, while the kidneys are held to be representative of the ability of the body to clean itself. As such, the lower dantian between these two places becomes a center where there is a great deal of vital activity taking place which can decide the health of an individual.
In the sixth century BCE, Lao Tzu first described breathing techniques as a way to stimulate Qi energy. From there, two types of Qigong breathing exercises evolved: Buddha’s Breath and Daoist’s Breath. Both methods infuse the body with Qi and help focus meditation.
Buddha’s Breath: When you inhale, extend your abdomen, filling it with air. When you exhale, contract your abdomen, expelling the air from the bottom of your lungs first and then pushing it up and out until your abdomen and chest are deflated. You may want to practice
inhaling for a slow count of eight and exhaling for a count of sixteen. As you breathe in and out, imagine inviting your Qi energy to flow through the Channels. Use your mind to invite the Qi to flow; you want to guide the flow, not tug at it or push it.
Daoist’s Breath: The pattern is the opposite of above. When you breathe in, you contract your abdominal muscles. When you exhale, you relax the torso and lungs.
Qigong can be done sitting, lying down, standing, or moving. The Qigong shown below is standing and moving Qigong. The main psychological differences between the moving and non-moving forms of Qigong are additional oxygen intake and the exercise of additional parts of the body.
5 Element Qigong
A set of easy and yet powerful moves that benefit body all around, using five primordial elements: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water.