Qi Gong is a form of exercise that originally developed in China. This form of exercise energizes the internal organs by combining disciplined breathing techniques with subtle but focused movement. Qi Gong does not employ as much movement as Tai Chi and is not as physically strenuous as Yoga, but will move and enhance your "qi" or "prana."
"Qi" or "prana" are Chinese and Indian terms for internal energy. Internal energy is an abstract concept which means "that which animates you" or "that which gives you buoyancy" or "life force." Qi has not been quantified according to the standards of Western science and medicine, but our medical community does not deny the positive benefits people who practice Qi Gong enjoy.
Some of these benefits include a deepening of the breath which leads to increased oxygen utilization and greater lung capacity, more mental concentration and focus, a feeling of greater psychological and emotional well-being, an increase in energy levels, greater flexibility and an improved ability to functionally move.
Qi Gong can help people with high blood pressure. It can help people recovering from a traumatic event like an accident or a battle with cancer. It can give seniors more energy and vitality. It is an alternative therapy for people with chronic problems like headaches, sinus problems, allergies or asthma.
For already healthy people, it can help keep the connective tissue vibrant, strong and healthy. It will help correct muscle imbalances to improve movement efficiency. It will increase oxygen utilization. It will stimulate the internal organs, working on keeping you healthy from the inside out as opposed to the outside in and it is a good complement to more physically demanding forms of exercise.
Students in our Qi Gong class begin by learning a famous Chinese Qi Gong set called the Ba Duan Jin, sometimes called the "Eight Sections of Brocade." There are eight movements that are performed in various numbers of repetition that help to correct postural alignment, increase shoulder, neck, waist, hip and leg flexibility, work the heart and lungs, stimulate the main twelve energetic meridians in the body, massage the kidneys and spleen, stimulate the stomach and intestines, and increase vitality and muscle strength.
Though the movements are easy to learn, the type of breathing required demands mental focus and a fully present effort in order to get the full benefit. This exercise does not fit the mental image we commonly have in the West of physically strenuous exercise. Regardless, it creates a different type of demand on the body and does require an honest and concentrated effort on the part of the participant.