Qigong (alternatively spelled chi gung or chi kung) is a form of gentle exercise composed of movements that are repeated a number of times, often stretching the body, increasing fluid movement (blood, synovial and lymph) and building awareness of how the body moves through space.
When you practice and learn a qigong exercise movement, there are both external movements and internal movements. These internal movements or flows in China are called neigong or "internal power". These internal neigong movements make qigong a superior health and wellness practice.
The internal movements also differentiate qigong from almost every other form of exercise in the West that often emphasizes prolonged cardiovascular movements (such as in running and biking) or that focus on muscular strength training (weight lifting).
The effectiveness of qigong has been proven in China by its beneﬁcial impact on the health of millions of people over thousands of years. Developing the life force, or chi, is the focus of Taoism, China's original religion/philosophy. The Taoists are the same people who brought acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, bone setting, and the yin/yang concept to the world.
Unfortunately, most of the speciﬁcs of these valuable contributions have until just recently been blocked from Western awareness by immense cultural and language barriers.
These barriers are beginning to break down to an extent in acupuncture, but with regard to qigong they are still very much in place.
For most people, the ﬁrst and foremost beneﬁt of qigong lies in the relief or prevention of chronic health problems. The range of maladies that have been helped by qigong in China include cancer, internal organ ailments, poor circulation, nerve pain, back and joint problems and general physical disease.
Many physical problems are at least partially due to, or aggravated by, mental or emotional stress, so the importance of the inner tranquility developed through chi gung cannot be overestimated. The practice of qigong helps manage the stress, anger, depres¬sion, morbid thoughts, and general confusion that prey on your mind when your chi is not regulated and balanced. Strengthening and balancing the energy of your mind enhances your ability to detect subtle nuances and to perceive the world and its patterns at ever-increasing levels of complexity. People who do not practice some form of energy development many never acquire these abilities.