What is Qigong?
Qi is the Chinese word for “life energy”. Gong means “work” or “benefits acquired through perseverance and practice.” Qigong (pronounced chee gong) means working with the life energy, learning how to control the flow and distribution of qi to improve the health and harmony of mind and body.
This concept of “gong” is found throughout Chinese culture. It not only means to practice, train, enhance and refine, but also implies enjoyment, devotion, and commitment. The practice of “gong” can be expressed in cooking, gardening, or meditation. It is applicable to any practice or self-development in which a person is deeply involved.
Qigong is a relatively new term. There is some dispute as to when the term first appeared, but it is agreed that it didn’t have in its current meaning until the 20th century. And the meaning is broad. It is inclusive of a broad variety of practices – both current and ancient. Some of the other names used in the past include “Xingqi” (promotion and conducting qi), “Fuqi” (taking qi), “Tuna” (expiration and inspiration), “Daoyin” (inducing and conducting qi), “Zuochan” (sitting meditation), and “jingzuo” (sitting still).
How does it compare to Yoga?
There are many different types of both yoga and qigong so it is hard to make a direct comparison without getting into specific forms, but as a general rule Qigong usually does not “hold” postures like yoga. Both will focus on breath and breathing patterns. Qigong movements usually are easier (although again it depends on what styles you are doing). Qigong usually more directly works on energy flow through the body and a little less on muscles. Both work on physical structure.