What is Qi Gong and Why Practice it?

what is qi gong

I recently gave a talk as part of a virtual conference on qi gong and realized that there is a huge and growing interest in qi gong. However, there not a lot of information to explain the basics behind what qi gong is or information and research to give us the needed buy-in to keep practicing until we experience the benefits.

I will summarize the main questions that came out of the conference but kick back for the 40-minute video to get the full picture.

What is Qigong and Why Learn it? x
What is Qigong and Why Learn it?

What is Qi Gong?

Qi Gong is a system of coordinated body-posture and movement, breathing, and meditation used for the purposes of health, spirituality, and martial-arts training. It is based on Chinese medicine, philosophy, and martial arts.

How long does it take to learn qigong?

Qi Gong can take one to two months to learn in 15-20 minutes each day. After you learn the movements, sets can take as little as 5-10 minutes to complete.

How often should I practice qigong?

Qi Gong should be practiced daily. For this reason, it is important to learn a set that makes it easy for you to keep up with the habit. Good Qi Gong sets are purposefully not complicated so that you can concentrate on your energy.  That means that even some of the most powerful sets can be completed daily in just a few minutes.

How do you practice Qi Gong and what does Qi Gong look like?

A qi gong set is a series of movements, often done from a standing position, that take about 6-8 minutes to complete. It looks like tai chi done while standing with breathing techniques.

Can I do Qi Gong Sitting?

Qi Gong can be modified to become a sitting routine if health issues, injuries, or low energy make standing difficult. Qi Gong sets focus on staying erect with good posture so that energy can travel from the feet up through the top of the head. Qi Gong can be modified for sitting by staying erect but focusing on the point between your sits bones and pushing up through the top of the head. Also, a chair with arms is suggested so that you can hold on while rotating left and right.

Why Learn Qi Gong?

Learn Qi Gong to reduce stress, improve your sleep, increase your mental focus, become more flexible, or heal. It is complimentary to other practices like Tai Chi or Yoga because it gives you a chance to focus on the internal development of energy to improve your other practices.

What are the Benefits of Qi Gong?

In this video we introduce research focusing on the benefits of qi gong including:

  • Relaxation
  • Reduced Stress
  • Improved Sleep
  • Reduced Blood Pressure
  • Clarity/focus
  • Improved Health
  • Internal Energy Development (Improved Martial Arts)

Does Qigong healing really work?

In the last few years, these benefits have been challenged and verified through scientific studies.
One example: A Comprehensive Review of Health Benefits of Qigong and Tai Chi

Roger Jahnke, OMD, Linda Larkey, PhD, Carol Rogers, Jennifer Etnier, PhD, and Fang Lin
Am J Health Promot. 2010 JUL-AUG; 24(6): e1–e25

The 9 outcome category groupings that emerged were:

  • Bone density (n=4)
  • Cardiopulmonary effects (n=19)
  • Physical function (n=16)
  • Falls and related risk factors (n=23)
  • Quality of Life (n=17)
  • Self-efficacy (n=8)
  • Patient reported outcomes (n=13)
  • Psychological symptoms (n=27)
  • Immune function (n=6).

What is the Best Way to Learn Qi Gong?

This video ends with a summary of tips to look for to evaluate your own qi gong form or choose a form or teacher. You can evaluate a qi gong set that you are doing or want to learn by asking the following questions. Does the Qi Gong set:

  • Teach incrementally (adding movements over time)
  • Include cleaning, building, and storing movements
  • Have great resources like videos or images
  • Have a small number of moves and low movement complexity
  • Employ thumps to the body or bounces to benefit lymphatic tissue
  • Take into consideration breath work and acupuncture/acupressure knowledge

What is the Best Qi Gong Set to Learn?

This is kind of a loaded question because there are literally thousands of qi gong sets designed for different purposes such as healing, calming, or increasing development of internal strength.

The best qi gong set to learn for most people that I have found was developed by Tristan Truscott from Satori Method and Peter Ragnar from Longevity Sage. I wrote more on it here:

The Best Way to Learn Qi Gong without a Teacher

If you are just getting started or want to learn a set that has great resources and is taught properly, check it out.

Scott Prath

Scott has been practicing and teaching tai chi and qigong since 2000. He is a lead instructor for the Austin Chen Tai Chi Association. His interest in the internal martial arts began after traveling in India and Nepal, and he has since traveled to China to train. Scott has published over 100 articles on tai chi with a focus on research showing the benefits of practicing.

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