(6 pages total)
Qigong, The Term...
Qigong (Chi Kung) comes from the Chinese words "Qi" meaning "Energy" plus "Gong", meaning "work" or "practice". It is a term that describes a Chinese Exercise system the focuses on cultivating and attracting "Qi" or "lifeforce" energies. Pronounced like "Chee Gung", Qigong (sometimes spelled "Chi Kung") is a unique Chinese exercise system. Through individual effort, practitioners build up their health and prevent illness by combining discipline of mind, body and the body's "Qi" (vital force).
Qigong draws on many elements. It includes "regulating the body" through posture, "regulating the mind" through quiet, relaxation and concentration of one's mental activity," regulating the breath", self-massage and movement of the limbs. It covers a wide range of exercises and styles, such as "tuna" (venting and taking in), which emphasizes the practice of breath; "still" qigong, which stresses meditation and relaxation; "standing stance" qigong, which emphasizes the exercise of the body by relaxed and motionless standing posture; "moving" and dao-yin" qigong, which emphasizes external movement combined with internal quiet and practice in control of the mind; as well as various forms of self-massage.
Chinese Qigong has been practiced with a recorded history of over 2,000 years. But it wasn't until 1953, when Liu Gui-zheng published a paper entitled "Practice On Qigong Therapy", that the term Qigong (Chi Kung) was adopted as the popular name for this type of exercise system. Prior to that date, there were many terms given to such exercise, such as Daoyin, Xingqi, Liandan, Xuangong, Jinggon, Dinggong, Xinggon, Neigong, Xiudao, Zhoshan, Neiyangong, Yangshengong, etc.
Moving or Static, Hard or Soft?
There have been many qigong schools in China. Although each school adopts unique methods, they all agree on the basic importance of regulating the mind and deepening the respiration. Western practitioners have divided and categorized qigong into various segments. The term "soft qigong" usually refers to exercises which enhance spiritual, mental, and physical health with meditation and gentle exercises. "Hard qigong" refers to exercises done in martial arts to strengthen and protect the body from vicious blows.
Some divide qigong into "Medical", "Martial", or "Spiritual" categories depending on the purpose of the practice.
Within China, qigong is generally practiced in two major categories, "still" and "moving". "Still" qigong lays emphasis on quiet, motionless meditation, generally employing methods of internal concentration and regulation of breathing. It is usually practiced in outwardly motionless postures such as the lying, sitting or standing positions, and since it emphasizes exercise of the internal aspect of the body, it is often known as internal qigong.
"Moving" qigong involves movement of the limbs and body under the conscious direction of the mind, and since the movement is expressed externally, it is also known as external qigong.
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