Qigong: Healing Exercises For A Strong Healthy Body
Qigong also known as Chi Kung is an energy exercise. So when you are practicing qigong you are working with life energy. It is often associated with martial arts and it is part of Chinese medicine. Qigong is also associated with supernatural powers.
Martial arts like Kung Fu make use of qigong to increase their martial power. It can significantly increase both their strength and endurance. Qigong can give you a strong mind and body so you can perform at a higher level. For martial arts you can include both hard and soft qigong. Hard qigong focuses on the external while soft focuses on the internal. A good example of hard qigong is Iron Shirt. The practitioner's skin become resistant to injury like they were wearing armor.
Practicing qigong can prevent a lot of health problems both mental and phyical. It can also cure them. The theory qigong follows is that imbalanced or stagnant chi causes health problems. So the exercises are designed to improve the flow of chi and fix any imbalances. Good health means you have a good chi flow. Bad health means something is wrong with your chi.
Chi kung masters have been shown starting fires, healing people, and moving objects by emitting chi. There is a video showing a Chi Kung master trying to fight by emitting chi. He lost big time. Qigong is not magic. You probably will not be able to emit enough chi to start fires or move objects. However it is great for increasing strength, endurance and health and you should be able to feel your chi with practice. I have seen lots of stories and videos that have qigong masters healing people but I have not seen it in person or done it myself.
Qigong uses slow coordinated movements and breathing. You control your breath and your thoughts while doing slow deliberate movements. The mind and body should be relaxed. It is a form of moving meditation so it requires focus. Your thoughts and breathing are important. The leg movements mostly involve shifting your weight or changing your height. The arm movements often involve circular movements.
I became interested in qigong after reading about it on the internet. So I got some DVDs featuring Terence Dunn and started practicing. I just play a DVD and follow along. It is not as easy as it looks so I could not do everything the first time but I gradually improved. He is a good teacher and has a number of DVDs including some advanced ones.
When I finish a session of qigong I feel relaxed and energized. Unlike other forms of exercise it takes very little time to get results. I like how it makes me feel. It is a nice relaxing feel good exercise. However it does not relax me as much as meditation and it is not a good alternative to cardio or weightlifting. It does not work that well for burning fat or building big muscles by itself. So I use it to complement the other things I do instead of replacing them. While it does not burn a lot of calories it does reduce food cravings.
Tai chi and yoga are good alternatives to qigong. They have similar benefits. A lot of the movements are similar to Tai chi. Qigong is easier to learn and focuses more on health.
The poses and movements in yoga are different. In qigong you develop a strong root with your feet firmly on the ground. With yoga you spend more time stretching, leaning, laying on the ground and standing on one leg. It requires more flexibility and better balance. I noticed more of an increase in energy when I did tai chi or qigong.
Some of the qigong stances gave my leg muscles a good workout. Even though I have strong leg muscles from biking and running it still took time to get good at doing the chair stance. In that stance you bend your knees like you were sitting in a chair. It is a good test of will power and endurance.
It takes very little space, does not require equipment and barely makes any noise. So I can practice it almost any time and place.
Qigong is a good exercise system for maintaining or improving your health. It can prevent or fix a lot of problems. I recommend using it to prevent problems because some problems can not be fixed. You can focus on improving your health or you can use it to increase your strength and endurance. I recommend doing qigong over tai chi unless you want to fight. In that case I would recommend learning Taijiquan or Chen style tai chi. Not all modern tai chi contains the martial aspects but if it says Taijiquan or Chen style it should. Taijiquan is good for sparing.
Besides the Terence Dunn DVDs shown above I also recommend the DVDs at Dragon Door. They have a nice set of Qigong DVDs for improving health and slowing down the aging process. Another good alternative is Kung Fu because it will contain some qigong. Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming has some nice DVDs and books on Kung Fu. If you want to learn I recommend DVDs. Books are good for theory but DVDs are better for practice. I liked Dr, Yang's The Essence of Shaolin White Crane book but it needs the DVD.
I had trouble finding videos for the qigong style I do but the videos below should give you the basic idea.