What is Chi Kung?

Chi Kung (pronounced ‘chee gung’) is a combination of physical exercise, theoretical study, internal alchemy and philosophy that has developed over thousands of years in China. It is firmly based upon the principles of traditional Chinese medicine. Similar systems of exercise have developed in other parts of the world and, although, they come in different guises, they all have one common theme: the cultivation of intrinsic energy. Whether it be the “ki” of Japanese martial & healing arts, the Qi (or ch’i) of the Chinese internal arts, the prana of yoga, or whatever, practices that foster the development of our intrinsic energy have existed for millennia.

Chi Kung (also known as Qigong) is such a far reaching concept that it is difficult to define concisely. However, this is what I have come up with to date:

Chi Kung is a systematic collection of physical, mental, and spiritual practices that endeavour to balance and integrate every aspect of human existence. In short, it enables us to feel better, achieve more and lead happier lives. It has evolved  as a method of self-culture for several  thousand years in China. Its methods are often blindingly simple and versatile. So it can be used by old and young, fit and infirm or strong and weak. The fundamental premise of Chi Kung is to accumulate and encourage the free-flow of what the Chinese call Qi.

Qi is not some mystical phenomenon that only the ‘gifted’ can access. Qi is a Chinese word used to  describe the very essence of an organism,  its vitality. When applied to human beings, it refers to the collective of all forces within and without the body-mind that manifest in that person’s existence. We can readily assess the state of a person’s Qi at any one time by how it manifests in their complexion, eyes, state of mind, voice, posture, shape and function. It is real! Chi Kung gives us a tool to manipulate these through regular practice."

The concept of Qi has been used in healing practices for thousands of years. Qi is the universal energy that exists in everything and is everywhere. It can exist in different states and qualities. For example, on a human level, Qi can manifest as blood, bio-electrical energy, body fluids etc.; on a larger scale, lightning, wind, the energy of moving water etc. The concept of Qi can be used to explain the workings of the human body in an holistic manner, where each individual’s physical, mental, emotional and spiritual existence is entirely unique.

The flow of Qi throughout the body can be experienced or sensed with relative ease. This is where Chi Kung practice starts.

Although Chi Kung is sometimes considered a separate art in itself, the term “Chi Kung” could include Tai Chi, meditation and any other practice that is based upon the exercise of our subtler energies.

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The Benefits of Regular Practice

Some types of Chi Kung are designed primarily to support and cultivate the body’s intrinsic energy, while others enhance the flow of energy and remove blockages, which manifest as aches, pains or discomfort. Often, both are achieved.

Stagnation of this energy or the weakening of its flow inevitably leads to less than perfect health and, in more advanced cases, illness. This illness may be accompanied with symptoms as obvious as those associated with a cold or, on a subtler level, negative thought, continual tiredness or irritability.

Chi Kung aims to cure and prevent illness by removing energy blockages and smoothing and increasing the flow of energy throughout our bodies. By regular practice we can maintain and improve our health and develop an increased feeling of vitality and general well-being.

At a higher level, Chi Kung also has the capacity to develop our spiritual faculties, by expanding our consciousness and allowing our inner wisdom to emerge.

In more familiar terms, regular practice of Chi Kung can:
* improve one’s ability to relax
* improve energy and blood circulation
* improve the respiratory and cardiovascular condition of the body
* increase vitality
* as a result of its calming effect, promote a positive attitude

Click here to find out more about the benefits of Tai Chi and Chi Kung practice.

Similarities with Meditation

Both Chi Kung and Tai Chi practices involve an aspect of meditation. As such, they also accrue the benefits of meditation such as a calmer more peaceful outlook on life's challenges. The benefits of meditation and the mindfulness it brings are also now well rooted in scientific research.

What is Involved in the Practice of Chi Kung?

This generally depends on the type of Chi Kung being practised. Typically, it involves a combination of both static & moving postures. Movements are mostly soft and flowing and suitable for anyone, young, old or infirm. Different postures are intended to have a positive effect on different internal organs, but often are beneficial to them all. Some can be quite strenuous whilst others are extremely relaxing. Sometimes it involves purely the use of the mind to accumulate or direct Qi.

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