What is Qigong?

“…qigong has to do with cultivating a ‘mindful body’ or an ‘embodied mind…” (Kaptchuck, p. 134)

Qigong is a form of moving meditation – a way to learn how to move your body with less tension, greater ease, and to build energy and relaxation. 

Qigong is based on Traditional Chinese Medicine (physiology, meditation, and exercise) and is included in the Five Pillars of Traditional Chinese Medicine: Acupuncture, Nutrition, Qigong, Massage, and Herbs. Qigong also includes Daoist roots and philosophy in the practice. 

Qigong is made up of two separate words:

  1. Qi: loosely defined as life force energy, natural force, vital energy, or simply ‘energy.’ Qi is the energy inside each of us, in the air we breathe, the food we eat, and in the animals and plants around us – it connects us all. 

  2. Gong: means to ‘work,’ ‘practice,’ or develop skill. Gong is derived from gongfu, a, “…term applied to any special skill or study as long as it requires time, energy, and patience.” (Jwing-Ming, Arthritis Relief, pp. 5). 

Combined, these words mean developing the skill to work with our life-force energy. When we practice Qigong, we learn how to move and control the energy within our body to build relaxation, resilience, flow, and harmony within and with those around us – a balance between our mind and body. 

By utilizing movement, breath, intention, visualization, self-massage, and healing postures, we can influence the movement, quality, and quantity of our own qi. With regular practice, we can build health and wellness, a sense of ease and flow in our body, and maintain balance in our life.  

Qigong is an umbrella term for different styles or schools of movement. You may be more familiar with some of the ‘martial’ styles of Qigong, such as Tai Chi or Kung Fu. There is also medical Qigong, often used with the other pillars of Traditional Chinese Medicine, focusing on maintaining or improving health. In addition, there are also spiritual forms of Qigong focusing on breathing, meditation, and the deeper and more esoteric cultivation of this life-force energy. 

The style of Qigong taught here is based on the Holden Qigong system, focusing on safe and accessible access to this practice. With a focus on slow and gentle movements, these Qigong forms most often can be easily adapted for people of all ages and abilities. However, you should always ensure that you discuss your participation in any new physical activity with your healthcare team. In addition, because you can practice Qigong anywhere and anytime, without the need for specific equipment, it is an ideal portable self-care tool! 

Qigong is a unique system that incorporates mind, body, and emotions or spirit. When you’re practicing Qigong, you’re moving your body, while being mindful, and improving your overall emotional quality – this unique synergy of mind-body-emotion is what brings unique relaxation with a boost of energy to students. 

A typical class will include

  • Breathing
  • Self-massage/activation of acupressure points
  • Warm-ups
  • Stretching
  • Releasing Movements
  • Flowing Movements

Cohen, K.S. (1997). The way of qigong: The art and science of chinese energy healingBallantine Books. 
Holden, L. (n.d.). Five-Element Qi Gong A Manual for the Immersion Trainings [Student Handbook]. PDF. 
Jwing-Ming, Y. (2003). Qigong meditation: Embryonic breathing. YMAA Publication Center.
Jwing-Ming. Y (2005). Arthritis relief: Chinese qigong for healing and prevention (3rd ed.). YMAA Publication Center.
Kaptchuck, T.J. (2000). The web that has no weaver: Understanding chinese medicine. McGraw-Hill.

Frequently Asked Questions:

No, although Qigong is based on Traditional Chinese Medicine and Daoism, you do not need to subscribe to a particular religious tradition to practice qigong. 

“Qigong’s great appeal is that everyone can benefit, regardless of ability, age, belief system or life circumstances.” – Lee Holden

No! Qigong is highly adaptable to your skills, ability, and activity tolerance. Many of the movements can be adjusted to fit your own body, and can also be done at your own pace, sitting, or standing! When you join the online classes, Dustin can help with exercise modifications as needed, and will often share ways to adapt the movements in the routines. 

As with any new physical activity, it is important that you discuss with your healthcare team whether this style of movement is safe and appropriate for you and your own health. 

Because qigong is something that we want to integrate into our day-to-day routine! It is not something that we will learn and achieve and discontinue – an end-point to achieve. Instead, Qigong is a form of movement and meditation to support health and well-being. The word ‘work’ is included in the definition of ‘qigong,’ which implies that daily we need to practice and work to build this skill.

Not at all. To practice qigong, all you really need are some non-constricting clothing (i.e., something that has some flow or give to it), a space that is free of obstacles (at least an arm’s length to all sides and above your head), and an open mind! You may choose to have a chair or exercise mat for comfort, but this is not necessary. 

To participate in live classes, you will need access to a free Zoom Account: Click Here to sign-up. Otherwise, your membership will provide access to archived videos for you to watch on-demand. 

When you learn and memorize some of the movements and routines, you can practice qigong anywhere and anytime – making it your go-to self-care tool in your toolbox!

That’s okay! To get benefits from qigong, you do not have to ‘buy-in’ to qi, or energy flow; however, we will discuss some of these principles during the classes. That being said, joining the class and being willing to learn how to move your body with more flow and less tension, can help to reduce pain and holding and encourage your body and joints to move in different ways, ultimately leading to greater movement throughout your body. 

Also, when we talk about energy it’s not always the above definition of ‘qi’ as energy – but also talking about physical energy: feeling more awake, revitalized, and ready to take-on the day.

  • Those who want to learn a natural and portable stress management technique
  • People looking to manage their pain through gentle movement, relaxation, and meditation
  • Those who want to learn new ways to move their body
  • Anyone looking to include a daily movement practice
  • Athletes who want to ensure their body stays loose and limber
  • Anyone who has been cleared for gentle rehabilitation post-injury