This week for the Pagan Blog Project I thought I’d write about Chi Kung (or Qi Gong…pronounced chi kung). Literally this means ‘breath of chi’ or the cultivation of chi through breath, and is a practice of aligning breath, movement, awareness for exercise, healing, and meditation. I actually discovered Qi Gong quite by accident although I’ve known about it for a while. I’ve always been attracted to Tai Chi (of which Qi Gong comes) but it’s always looked kind of complicated and besides I just can’t afford the classes. Then I downloaded an App. for my Kindle with free Qi Gong exercises, and this led me to doing a bit of research and exploring the You Tube videos of Qi Gong…then I was hooked! Qi Gong has its roots in ancient Chinese culture and probably dates back at least 4,000 years. It has been likened to an off-shoot of Tai Chi although like this, many different varieties and forms exist depending on different segments of Chinese culture. In Confucianism it is used to promote longevity and improve moral character, in Taoism and Buddhism as part of meditative practice and in Chinese martial arts to enhance fighting abilities. However, typically qigong practice involves rhythmic breathing coordinated with slow repetition of fluid movement, a calm mindful state, and visualization of guiding chi through the body.
From the moment I began doing Qi Gong I felt a difference, no kidding, calmer and more centered and grounded. The movements themselves are actually really relaxing and meditative. My practice right now is only about 10 minutes a day and the nice thing about Qi Gong is that you can do a lot of the exercises sitting down. As I mentioned above, I found some really good videos on You Tube, which I watch before hand so I can memorize the movements – and there are very simple ones you can do to begin with.
There are many health benefits to practicing Qi Gong including improving cardiovascular function, healing specific acute diseases, and increasing longevity. Not only physical benefits but mental ones too – it is claimed to improve the mood, reduce stress reaction, decrease anxiety and depression. I’ve found that doing the exercises puts me in a much calmer frame of mind, so when stressors come along I’m tending to meet them with more neutrality rather than negativity.
Here are some good videos to watch for simple Qi Gong exercises if you’re just beginning:
And a good starter book is Heal Yourself with Qigong: Gentle Practices to Increase Energy, Restore Health, and Relax the Mind by Suzanne Friedman