Qigong, Chi Kung, or Chi Gung (simplified Chinese: 气功; traditional Chinese: 氣功; pinyin: Qìgōng; Wade–Giles: Chi Gong; literally: “Life Energy Cultivation”) is a practice of aligning body, breath, and mind for health, meditation, and martial arts training.
With roots in Chinese medicine, philosophy, and martial arts, Qigong is traditionally viewed as a practice to cultivate and balance Qi (Chi) or what has been translated as “life energy”.
According to Daoist, Buddhist, and Confucian philosophy, respectively, Qigong allows access to higher realms of awareness, awakens one’s “true nature”, and helps develop human potential.
Qigong practice typically involves moving meditation, coordinating slow flowing movement, deep rhythmic breathing, and calm meditative state of mind.
Qigong is now practiced throughout China and worldwide for recreation, exercise and relaxation, preventive medicine and self-healing, complementary and alternative medicine, meditation and self-cultivation, and training for martial arts.
Over the centuries, a diverse spectrum of Qigong forms developed in different segments of Chinese society.
Traditionally, Qigong training has been esoteric and secretive, with knowledge passed from adept master to student in lineages that maintain their own unique interpretations and methods. Although the practice of Qigong was prohibited during the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s; it was once again allowed after 1976; and disparate approaches were merged and popularized, with emphasis shifted away from traditional philosophy, spiritual attainment, and folklore, and increasingly to health benefits, traditional medicine and martial arts applications, and a scientific perspective.
Since a 1999 crackdown, practice of Qigong in China has been restricted.
Over the same period, interest in Qigong has spread, with millions of practitioners worldwide.
Research concerning Qigong has been conducted for a wide range of medical conditions, including hypertension, pain, and cancer treatment.
Most systematic reviews of clinical trials have not been conclusive, and all have been based on poor quality clinical studies, such that no firm conclusions about the health effects of Qigong can be drawn at this stage.
To be continued…