Qi Gong is a type of study of Qi (energy or life force) that was developed more than 3,000 years ago in China. But as the relentless go-go-go culture continues to stack up, people all around the world are turning to this ancient technique to relieve stress. Here are six basic things to know about qi gong.
1. Qi gong combines several motions and breathing exercises
The Chinese practice blends breathing techniques, posture and movement to circulate the life force throughout the body and filter out toxins.
2. The basic Qi gong stance is called Hugging the Tree
To do this, stand in the basic Qi gong stance with your knees bent comfortably. Raise your arms up in front as if holding a huge Qi ball (like a beach ball) at the level of your heart. As you angle your palms toward yourself, with your elbows pointing down to the ground and shoulders relaxed, tuck your chin. Some people like to think they have a cord attached at the apex of their head tugging their spine upward. Remain standing while you do deep dantian breathing.
3. Focus on dantian
Since breathing is a large part of qi gong, dantian is something that new practitioners will want to understand. Dantian means "elixir field" or a place to store energy, and it can be found in one's center. Thus, abdominal breathing is important. Anatomically, dantian is located in the lower abdomen between the navel and the pubic bone. Qi gong experts believe this is not only a source of power for physical energy and sexual vitality but also a corresponding point of physical functions such as digestion and reproduction.
4. Everyone can benefit from qi gong
Unlike certain martial arts like Kung Fu, Qi gong can be practiced by people of all ages and abilities. Children may learn to channel their energy and develop heightened concentration with qi gong; office workers can reduce stress and anxiety; and seniors may utilize gentle motions to help relieve problems like arthritis and a limited range of motion. Similar benefits may be found in the Korean practice of Dahn Yoga.
5. There is a difference between Qi gong, Tai Chi and Kung Fu
Although subtle to the outside eye, there is a difference between these three practices. Tai Chi is a soft or internal martial art whereas Kung Fu is considered a hard or external martial art that is heavily based on self-defense training. On the other hand, Qi gong can be considered a cousin of Tai Chi, combining slow, easy motions with controlled breathing.