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What is Qigong?

Working with Energy

Qigong is a Chinese term that means ‘energy exercise.’ These exercises are usually sets of specific motions or patterns of breath that cause energy (qi / chi / ki ) to move through the body in a particular way or specific location. These movements often cause energy to move through an acupuncture meridian or meridians. In effect, you are giving yourself an acupuncture treatment.

Qigong comes in many flavors

There are many different types of Qigong: medical, martial, intellectual [Confucian], and spiritual. There are both Buddhist and Daoist forms of qigong.  While most qigong forms have been around for a long time, some  forms are known to date back thousands of years – the Mawangdui tombs [200 BCE – 9 BCE] contained diagrams of qigong movements.  The same movement could be done in a number of different ways – qigong can be done standing, sitting, or lying down. Motion, or lack of motion is another possibility: some forms are completely still (except for breathing), most forms include movement.

There are something like 300 major schools of qigong in China, and each school may have many qigong forms.  In America, Tai Chi Chuan is the best known form of qigong. Originally Tai Chi was a martial art, today it is rare to find a teacher who teaches the martial portion. Most people only practice the slow, graceful choreography of Tai Chi for its health and anti-aging effects. There are numerous studies showing the health effects of Tai Chi.

Which kind is Dragon & Tiger?

Good question.  Shaolin is a Ch’an Buddhist temple, and movements 4 & 7 can deliberately include a component of compassion – the Buddhist concept ‘metta’ (maitri).  On the other hand, the energetics and movement patterns are clearly Daoist – the form is full of twists and spirals. While the form does have martial application and it comes from a temple famous for martial arts, its overall purpose is to heal, and it is taught as a way to heal one’s body, emotions, mind and spirit. So, in modern terms it is medical qigong. In classic terms it is Daoist qigong.


George Sawyer - Ending Burnout

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