Qigong (pronounced chee-KONG), which is thought to originate as a form of dancing, dates back as many as four thousand years and looks a lot like taking your shoes off and playing follow the leader. So what is it?
“Qigong is an energetic practice in Chinese medicine which includes energy exercises and meditation,” says Qigong Grandmaster Dr. Chow, founder of the East-West Academy of Healing Arts in San Francisco . “It’s about bringing your body to a maximum level of function, by increasing its ability to absorb oxygen, which increases blood circulation, and your state of health.”
Free Your Qi
The benefits of Qigong (“gong” means “work” or “technique”) are largely invisible, though many claim to benefit from its practice. “Qi” (“breath” or “energy”) gets blocked in the pathways which run up, down, and throughout the body, known in Chinese medicine as meridians, and needs to be freed up to revitalize the body. The purpose of Qigong is to free your “chi.” This involves a series of fairly complex flowing movements. “Harmonious qi means good health,” says Dr. Chow. “And when there’s an imbalance, that’s where there’s danger of disease. Qigong deals with the body, mind, spirit, and connection to nature.”
Qigong Near You
If you’re interested in Qigong, look for a local instructor. “Personally learning from a teacher is always best,” says Dr. Chow. “But many masters have good books and audio-visual tools. It’s very necessary for the individual to follow a system. There’s an old formula, ‘Do it 100 days straight without missing a day.’ Then you give it a chance.”
“I believe in serious learning,” she says, “with lots of fun, lots of laughter. I proscribe eight hugs and three belly-aching laughs a day, at least. It changes the whole demeanor.”
Related article: Ancient Wisdom, Modern Athletes