Qigong (pronounced chee-gong) is an ancient Chinese healing practice that combines meditation, controlled breathing and slow, gentle movements. The aim is to stimulate the flow of qi throughout the body to improve wellbeing, both mentally and physically. ‘Qi’ roughly translates to vital life force or energy, whereas ‘gong’ translates to mastery – therefore ‘Qigong’ is the mastery of ones energy.
The origins of Qigong date back thousands of years! It’s believed to have been started by tribes in China as part of a dance, with the specific movements strengthening the members and helping them ward of diseases. Over time, these movements were systematised to create movements that could be practiced every day. It is said that one of China’s legendary founding emperors practiced Qigong every day – and he lived well over 100 years!
During 500BC to 220AD, Chinese scholars and sages developed various practices and philosophies, including Qigong, believed to achieve immortality. Whilst they didn’t quite achieve this, they did discover that the ‘elixir of life’ resides within each of us and that by cultivating it every day, you could live a long and healthy life.
Since then Qigong has been practiced and developed by a wide range of people, from monks to warriors, to intellectuals and ordinary people. All usually aiming for 3 different purposes – martial, medical, or meditative.
The possible benefits of Qigong are endless!
- The gentle movement and strengthening of the muscles can help release tension that may have been there for years
- The controlled movement can increase balance and flexibility
- The slow breathing activates the ‘rest and digest’ system of your body – reducing stress and anxiety
- The combination of exercise and meditation can improve overall fitness and reduce the risk of chronic disease
- Regular practice of qigong can improve focus and help regulate thoughts
The best thing about qigong is that it can be practiced by anyone – no matter the age or gender or fitness level.
We have two online Qigong courses running in January and February, so start the New Year by learning a new skill and improving your wellbeing! Find more information about them here.