The Health Benefits of Qigong

Qigong is a form of Chinese meditation and exercise intended to help the mind, spirit, and body. There is evidence that Qigong does in fact have health benefits. Let’s take a look at what Qigong is, and how it helps.

Qigong is an ancient art going back at least 2000 years, but it has only been referred to in the United States by this term since the 1950s. It had been called by various names prior to that, and had been used in the U.S. as a form of therapy. The term Qigong, pronounced “chee-gung,” is a combination of the Chinese words “qi” (energy) and “gong” (practice or work).

Practitioners of Qigong, like those who practice other Chinese meditative exercises, often refer to the body’s “qi” or life-force. Qigong is a series of exercises meant to harmonize the body, mind and spirit and aims at a unification of body forces (spiritual and physical energies). When this kind of harmony is achieved, health and vitality are purported to result. Proponents of Qigong claim that this is the way to wellness, enhancing immunity, improving blood flow, and promoting a sense of calm.

The practice of Qigong can be divided into different sorts, depending on the intent of the practice. For example, some refer to Sports Qigong, others to Martial Qigong, and still others to Spiritual Qigong. It seems that Qigong is an adaptable art, able to be tailored for the individual’s needs.

What Does Qigong Involve?

  • Physical discipline

    Students of Qigong will learn the art of meditation, breath control, and specific physical movements. There are specific body positions for sitting, lying, standing, and walking. Breath control and various means of controlling the flow of breath are key components of the practice. There are even certain breathing techniques intended to target specific illnesses. Students are also expected to quell excessive physical indulgence in such activities as smoking and drinking alcohol.

  • Spiritual and mental discipline

    Students learn the basic skill of concentration and the use of meditation to enter a state of quiet calm. External stimuli are deliberately filtered out as the student focuses on the center of his body or the rhythm of her breathing. Through this practice, the student is said to be cultivating such character traits as patience and perseverance.

How Does Qigong Enhance Health?

The therapeutic effects of Qigong have much to do with the areas of the body that are targeted by the exercise. Qigong activates the cerebral cortex, the central nervous system, and the circulatory system. The specific positions and breathing techniques are said to have a “massaging effect” on the internal organs, particularly those organs located in the abdomen. Qigong teaches students that they can achieve self-control over their body’s physicality.