Qigong is an ancient Chinese philosophy for better health with use of a form of martial arts that has been around since the Stone Age. Over time this has gradually grown into an exercise or skill to train both the body and mind. Qigong simply can be broken into two words. The first is Qi (pronounced chee) which means energy or the life force that all living things are made of. The second part is Gong (pronounced kung) which means skills or techniques through years of practice can produce strong results. Combining these skills of controlling ones breath along with exercises will bring overall positive mental and physical health.
Qigong has been traced back to the central plains of China which were heavily flooded during the Tang-Yao period over 4,000 years ago. Many ancient Chinese medical books make references to Qigong such as The Book of Documents. During this time the people suffered from joint pain and stiffness through the body. They would do dances in order tap into their Qi and get the blood flowing evenly in the body. This would alleviate the muscle soreness and with the help massage were able to overcome these ailments. This was the beginning to the practices we know today as Qigong.
Qigong was originally practiced to maintain good health and prevent sickness. It has been connected to shamanism or shamanic dancing. During these times there was no clear line between medicine and shamanism. According to these ancient texts, one could be a shaman after many years of practice of the Qigong. Shamans were supposed to posses many qualities that would involve meditation and achieve tranquility. This was accomplished by creating a solemn atmosphere, keeping the body motionless, and purifying the mind by singing and dancing. All of this combined would cultivate the Qi and have different states of consciousness.
Qigong has been a lost tradition to many of the Chinese and not till the late 1950’s did the practice arise again in its popularity. Qigong became more widespread in the West in the 1980’s. Today many teachers and therapists are found all over the globe from Toronto, Canada to Auckland, New Zealand. These practitioners offer many workshops and classes in order for beginners to start their path to a healthy lifestyle. In China, it is expected from a Qigong master, that one must show up every morning at dawn for a minimum of three years to test the level of commitment by a newbie.
For more information ask Irina Benoit - Tai Chi\Qigong (Chi Kung) Instructor, teaching QiGong Toronto classes and workshops, regularly rolling new beginners and intermediate groups.