The concept of qi Similar to the theory of yin-yang, qi was derived from ancient Chinese philosophy, which believes everything is related. In traditional chinese medicine, qi is treated as the fundamental substance of the human body, and its movements explain various life processes. Qi in its physiological sense constitutes, replenishes and nourishes the human body.* Qi is often called vital energy because it is believed to be the motive energy derived from the essential substance for various vital processes.
Qi is often classified according to what it acts on. For example, the heart-qi refers to the force with which the heart works and the blood circulates, so it regulates the cardiac function; the stomach-qi refers to the force with which the stomach functions, so it regulates the gastric function. The qi that maintains normal functioning for resistance against disease is called zheng-qi, which means genuine energy or body resistance. The qi that warms the body and maintains normal body temperature is called yang-qi, which is similar to the heat energy. Metabolism of materials and energy also depends on the action of qi, including metabolism of blood, fluids and other essential materials.
Qi is formed from the inhaled oxygen, the dietary nutrients, and the inborn primordial qi stored in the kidney, which may be genetically related. Qi circulates along meridians and collaterals. A healthy body requires normal circulations of qi. Health problems occur if the flow of qi is stagnated. The circulation of qi is also closely related to mental conditions. Emotional instability may cause the stagnation of qi. For example, anger may lead to dizziness, headache, distress in the hypochondriac regions, or distention in the stomach with impairment of appetite. On the other hand, the exercise of mind can help the circulation of qi, which is the purpose qigong exercise.
General methods of qigong
Qigong is an exercise to regulate the mind and breathing in order to control or promote the flow of qi. Since qi plays such an important role in the vital processes of the human body, the regulation of qi flow is therefore be used to preserve health and treat disease.
Medical qigong, the qi exercise practiced to prevent and treat disease, is different from general physical exercise. While physical exercise is aimed at building up health or restoring physical functioning by enhancing strength, medical qigong is focused on the mobilization of functional potentialities by regulating the mind. In other words, physical exercise is purely somatic, while qigong exercise is generally psycho-somatic. Another important difference between physical exercise and qigong is that physical exercise expends energy by tensing the muscles and accelerating the heart beat and respirations, while qigong works to ease, smooth and regulate breathing to store up or accumulate energy in the body.
Medical qigong can be divided into two main categories: internal qigong, which is practiced by the patients themselves to preserve and promote their own health, and external qigong, which is performed by a qigong master on a person with health problems. Practicing internal qigong requires regulation of the mind, body and respiration. There are many kinds of internal qigong, some with motion and others without. Qigong can be practiced while sitting still, standing upright, or lying on the back or side. The basic requirement is to stay comfortable and relaxed.
Types of Qigong (Ji Ben) Wai gong is the external aspects of the martial arts such as horse stance, rooting postures, foot and leg work, stretching exercises, alignment etc. There are two types of Chi Kung, or Chi Gung (pronounced Chi Gong). The breathing exercises taught for health, medical, and clinical use is called Lin Chuang Chi Kung. The proper breathing and special postures and movements, such as Tai Chi Chuan develop the internal energy called "Chi" (pronounced Ji). The five elements are the basic exercises for developing this internal energy, which is so often overlooked by students who are looking for more than there actually is. Chi is no mystery, however, for without this life force moving in the human body one can became sick or even die. A dangerously high fever is an example of too much "Yang" chi, or energy, which can kill. A perfect balance of the yin and yang energy is desired for optimum health.
*Wu Su Chi Kung, or Martial Arts Chi Kung, consists of feats of strength such as breaking of objects (i.e. bricks, boards, etc.) But this type is very dangerous and calls for a highly skilled Master of Chi Kung to teach it properly, as death can result from haphazard training.
*Nei Gong, or Internal Power, is the development of the inner muscles and organs. The purpose of nei gong training is to relax while not using muscles, this is usually done in a subconscious manner, which can be static, repetitious, or both. The eight mother palms of Ba Gua are an example of nei gong and can be found in the postures that twist in place while walking the circle and holding the postures.
*Shen Gong is the mentality or "spirit" attitude, or outlook of a practitioner. Shen gong is usually done two ways, standing and sitting. It can be done lying down or walking too. The benefits are better eyesight due to the specific exercises and the ability to project the energy out of the body, because of the fact that the eyes direct the chi.
*Ling Kong Jing. Ling is the spirit of being that acts upon others. Kong Jing is the empty force that can be projected out of the body to heal or harm. Wu Wei means to do nothing. It is passiveness, quietism, and non-interference. This is a preparation posture that precedes the wu chi posture or natural stance (horse). Wu Chi means unlimited. The posture is the "natural horse stance" or tai chi horse stance.