Qigong (Traditional Chinese Symbol: 氣功) or "Energy-Cultivation", is an aspect ofChinese Medicine which involves the coordination of different breathing and movementpatterns with various physical postures.
Qigong is mostly taught and practiced for health maintenance purposes, but it can also be used as a therapeutic intervention. Variousforms of qigong are also widely taught in conjunction with martial arts in the advanced training of what are known as the "Internal Martial Arts. "Qigong and some other therapeutic techniques of Traditional Chinese Medicine use an energy field generated and maintained by the natural respiration of the body, known as Qi (this is analogous to Paraná and Pranayama in Indian Medicine).
One of the translations of Qi is "breath" in Mandarin Chinese, which basically means that the energy produced by breathing keeps us alive. Gong means work or processes or technique. QiGong can then simply be translated to: "Breath-Work" or the art of managing the breath to achieve and maintain good health, and to enhance the energy mobilization and stamina of the body.\
Qigong under various names has a long history in China. The written records referring to Qi and its effects are as old as 18th century B.C. (Shang dynasty oracle bones, Zhoudynasty inscriptions). Numerous books have been written about qigong during the subsequent history of China. The development of Chinese qigong can be divided into three periods:• In ancient China, people came to believe that through certain body movements and mental concentration combined with various breathing techniques, they could balance and enhance physical, metabolic and mental functions. These movements were worked out over time by exploring the natural range of motion through the joints, as well as drawing on motions in imitation of various animals. This research was passed down and refined according to teacher-disciple relationshipsof lineage or apprenticeship. This accumulated body of traditional knowledge isknown as Chinese traditional qigong.• In later centuries, these practices became more standardized, very often associated with some rituals. For example, incense burning was originally used to measure time and also to repel insects during qigong practice, and eventually became an important part of the meditative process itself. Over time, new forms of qigong were created and passed down through various schools; Taoist, Buddhist,Confucian, Neo-Confucian, Chinese medicine, and the traditional Chinese martial arts.• In the 1950s, researchers began studying qigong using the scientific method, with peer-reviewed and controlled studies of various techniques to provide a scientific evaluation of claims for the efficacy of qigong. Scientific study of this topic is still active, with particular emphasis in eastern countries, although research into the medical benefits is also active in western countries. Various medical universities now issue Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Qigong, or include Qigong in their curricula.
Today millions of people in China and around the world regularly practice qigong as a health maintenance exercise. Qigong and related disciplines are still associated with the martial arts and meditation routines trained by Taoist and Buddhist monks, professional martial artists and their students. Formerly much more closely guarded, in the modern era such practices have become widely available to the general public both in China and around the world.
Medical qigong treatment has been officially recognized as a standard medical technique in Chinese hospitals since 1989. It has been included in the curriculum of major universities in China. After years of debate, the Chinese government decided to officially manage qigong through government regulation in 1996 and has also listed qigong as part of their National Health Plan. Qigong can help practitioners to learn Diaphragmatic breathing, an important component of the relaxation response, which is important intreatment and management of stress.
Siamak F. Shirazi, LAc, Ph.D. is a Chinese Medical practitioner as well as the founderand Director of 2bwell Clinic, a Wellness Center located in Lake Oswego, OR. He holds a Certification in QiGong from Harbine University Medical School in China and has practiced TM (Transcendental Meditation) and studied different martial arts principles like Taijiquan (Tai Chi) and Karate since age 18. Over the past 15 years, Siamak has taught Tai Chi and Qi Gong in different workshops and conferences. He also incorporates their principles in the daily patient care of his private practice.