Qigong is pronounced “chi-kung.” Qi is our lifeforce, the energy that powers our body and spirit. Gong means work or cultivate. The meaning of the words together, Qi+gong cultivate our lifeforce with a flowing form of movement, breath and mind using intention.
Qigong can be referred to as the internal piece of Tai Chi. The physical expression is simple flowing movements repeated a certain number of times. We can focus on a feeling, emotion, part of our body, a concept and send our qi (energy) there. Energy follows thought.
Because Qigong is free-form, it is also very adaptive. Anyone in any condition may participate in its breathing exercises, and may adapt its simple moves to their own level of physical ability.
Qigong can be also be done in a chair, or lying in a bed.
I personally love changing some of the Qigong movements I teach with the seasons according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). The best way to stay healthy according to Chinese medicine, is learning about the nature of each season and living in harmony with its spirit. For example, summer is the most yang—fire energy, and winter is the most yin season—water.
Often known as moving meditation, Tai Chi is a series of slow, gentle movements that are patterned after movements in nature. For example: snake creeps down, golden pheasant stands on one leg, parting the wild horse’s mane, just to name a few.
Tai Chi is a more dedicated practice because of the sequential moves to be learned. Through continued and dedicated practice, Tai Chi offers many health benefits balancing the body, mind and spirit. The yin yang symbol means balance.
Qigong is considered a health system, and Tai Chi began as a martial art. Although, Tai Chi today is widely used for health and wellness.
Differences between Qigong and Tai Chi
Qigong can be thought of as a movement you repeat for a certain situation (i.e. increasing your lung capacity), whereas Tai Chi is a form, a series of movements that work on the entire body in a flowing sequence.
Tai Chi classes usually include movements of Qigong but a Qigong session will not necessary include sequential movements of Tai Chi.
Where do I begin?
Right where you are. You do not have to be in great shape, strong, or flexible to attend a Qigong or Tai Chi class. With practice, both of these modalities will provide you strength, flexibility, a sense of peace and balance, in your mind/body/spirit.
You can read all about the benefits of both modalities throughout the internet with a simple search, but nothing will teach you more than experiencing Qi-Chi for yourself.
On the Qigong Institute website, Harvard Medical School Recommends Qigong and Tai Chi. There are plenty of links on this page alone to answer many questions, and if you need more, do you own internet search. As my Sifu reminds me, “Don’t take my word for it, discover it for yourself.”
In February 2017, I was part of the Huntsman Cancer Institute educational clinical trial on Evaluating the Effect of Qigong and Cancer-Related Fatigue and Quality of Life. READ ABOUT RESULTS