DISCLAIMER: The Qigong Institute makes no suggestions, claims, or recommendations regarding any medical therapy, treatments, exercise program, or medical practitioners. For medical advice or before embarking on any exercise program, we recommend that members of the public consult with a qualified physician.
The word Qigong (pronounced "chee gong") is a combination of two ideas: "Qi" means air, breath of life, or vital energy of the body, and "gong" means the self-discipline skill of working, cultivating, and balancing Qi. The art of Qigong consists primarily of the use of intention, meditation, relaxation, physical movement or posture, mind-body integration, and breathing exercises. Practitioners of Qigong develop an awareness of qi sensations (energy) in their body and use their mind to guide the Qi for improving their health, all of which can easily be learned by almost anyone. Medical Qigong has been extensively studied scientifically more than any other alternative therapy and it has been shown to be a cost-effective therapy. Ultimately, Qigong is not about pursuit of excellence in form; rather, it involves experience through practice.
Although the term "Qigong" was coined around 1948, Qigong is a self-initiated health practice that has its roots in pre-historic China. Ancient dao yin, nei gong, and yangsheng practices combined with other Taoist exercises to form the basis of Qigong. Qigong is a pre-cursor to but considered part of Traditional Chinese Medicine, along with herbal medicine, acupuncture, and acupressure. Qigong can be considered acupuncture without the needles because both practices involve manipulation and balancing of the body's energy. Qigong differs from acupuncture in that Qigong additionally includes cultivation and balancing over time of the body's energy through self-initiated practices.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, seventy percent of diseases are preventable, yet most people have no idea of how to do this. Being truly well requires much more than workouts at the gym or western-style aerobic sports. While most exercises focus on building muscles or endurance, Qigong focuses on the body as a whole and involves the regulation and regeneration of the cardiovascular/circulatory, lymphatic, digestive, and nervous systems as well as the body's internal organs. Slow, graceful movements combined with mental concentration and relaxed breathing are used to increase and balance a person's vital energy or life force (qi). When mind intent and breathing technique is added to physical movement, the benefits of exercise increase exponentially.
There are thousands of Qigong systems. Medical and spiritual components such as clearing the mind to reduce stress and increasing focus are built-in to all forms and styles of Qigong. Literally millions of people practice Qigong in China and around the world each. It gives people a practical way to take more responsibility for their own health care, especially for disease prevention and wellness. Qigong is not just a physical exercise system or a healing technique; it is a way of being.
Beyond its medical capabilities for disease prevention and chronic illness, Qigong is a superb way to achieve spiritual awareness. It has a long history of cross-fertilization with the fascinating Chinese philosophy of Taoism. This heritage is responsible for Tai Chi, Kung Fu, Zen Buddhism, and the modern Chinese blend of Taoism and Buddhism. The beauty of pursuing spirituality through Qigong is that you get the medical benefits for free as part of the practice. A good place to start with spiritual Qigong (which can deepen anyone’s spiritual awareness, regardless of their religion) is getting a good solid grounding in Qigong by reading: Cohen, Ken. The Way of Qigong. Ballantine Books. New York. 1997. Cohen's book and others may be found in the section on Qigong and Energy Medicine Books.
Also consider the books on Qigong and Taoism by John Cleary, books from the masters and teachers listed in the Qigong Institute Teacher Directory, and the Qigong Institute's information on Spiritual Qigong.
To get more acquainted with the spiritual and philosophical aspects of Qigong and the modern adaptation of Taoism to western life, check out the quarterly publication The Empty Vessel (see www.abodetao.com).
The Qigong Institute is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting Qigong to improve health and healing by programs of research and education. The Institute's website contains scientific reports published in peer review journals by it's members. The Institute supports research efforts including: experimental studies; development of the Qigong and Energy Medicine Database™, which contains abstracts in English of scientific studies of Energy Medicine (the majority of which involves Qigong); cooperation between Chinese and American researchers in clinical studies; providing an opportunity for graduate students to publish their findings in Qigong research; and sponsoring classes and lectures series in Qigong. The educational component of the Qigong Institute includes sponsoring classes; co-sponsoring events to raise the awareness of Qigong, such as World Tai Chi and Qigong Day. The Qigong Institute website provides lists of Qigong teachers & practitioners, copies of scientific studies by Qigong Institute staff, the sale of video tapes of lectures given by professionals on various aspects of Qigong, and reports of current events and what's new on Qigong published in the press. The QI website also has a Related Links page which serves as a gateway to worldwide Qigong resources.
The Qigong Institute also takes part in meetings and conferences to support efforts to help integrate Qigong and Tai Chi into chronic illness management and preventative healthcare programs, especially for the elderly. These efforts include participation with the Coalition for Living Well After 50, the American College of Sports Medicine, the Active Aging Partnership, the National Council on the Aging, Oregon Research Institute, UC Irvine, the National Institutes of Health, the Institute of Integral Qigong and Tai Chi, and World Tai Chi and Qigong Day, the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Illinois, and others.
If possible, find a competent Qigong instructor with whom you can discuss your objectives. For some possibilities, please visit the Teachers' Registry of the Qigong Institute, the National Qigong Association, World Tai Chi and Qigong Day, and the Institute of Integral Qigong and Tai Chi.
Read books on the subject: authors whom you might want to search for including Kenneth Cohen, Francesco Garripoli, and Roger Jahnke. These authors (as well as the instructors in the Qigong Institute Teacher Directory) also have Qigong videos, DVDs, and books available and they give seminars and retreats. Attend Qigong conferences. The NQA (National Qigong Association) sponsors such conferences, as does the East West Academy of Healing Arts. Show me some Qigong videos and DVDs.
See previous answer. Also, understand that Qigong is something that you can be doing throughout your day to get the most benefit. How do you do this? It's as simple as making three adjustments: adjust your posture, adjust your breath, and adjust your mind. A good time to do this is when you would otherwise be wasting time or becoming stressed through anticipation, such as waiting at a traffic light, standing in line, or worrying. You can be doing Qigong all the time. It then becomes an integrated part of your life instead of a "practice" that you have to set aside time to "do." The minutes that you remember to do this during the day add up. Also, you can carry through the calm achieved during your regular practice to the other parts of your day.
Adjusting your posture involves a few easy steps: pretend that your head is suspended by a string, like a marionette, so that your spine is straight; tilt your pelvic bowl slightly forward so that the "fruit" (your internal organs) does not spill out; pull your shoulders slightly back and down; feet are shoulder-width apart; eyes looking forward; and the chin is slightly tucked. In this posture, you could draw a straight line from the middle of the top of your head, down through your perineum to the balls of your feet. Another way to approximate this pose is stand upright with your back straight against a wall, doing all the posture adjustments described earlier. Then slowly move out from the wall without changing your vertical alignment, until your back is no longer in contact with the wall. Then do a standing meditation or some other Qigong form. This will give you a kinesthetic grounding that you can use to adjust your posture during the day when you aren't doing Qigong.
The posture adjustment is the easiest adjustment to do and remember. It can provide an enormous benefit when your body energy is allowed to flow unobstructed by, for example, slumped shoulders or a sunken chest.
Slow, deep relaxed breathing, where your abdomen fills up first and then your chest when you inhale, constitutes adjusting your breathing. Try to remember to do this type of breathing whenever you can. You may figure out ways to remind yourself to do this, like at every stop sign, when you do the dishes, watch TV, etc.
There are many different names and phrases for "adjusting your mind", such as stress reduction breathing, meditation, mindfulness meditation, clearing your mind by eliminating thoughts, etc. The three adjustments get you into the Qigong state where relaxation and healing occur. Note that your brain and nervous system are engaged during dreaming, since the brain doesn't know the difference between what it experiences in real-time and imagines. It may well be that the only true relaxation time that many people can get is during meditation when the nervous system is in the parasympathetic, relaxation, and regeneration state.
Tai Chi (also spelled/referred to as Taiji, Taijiquan, and Tai Chi Chuan) and Kung Fu (also called Gong Fu, and more recently WuShu) are both martial arts forms of Qigong. Tai Chi is a soft, or internal martial art whereas is Kung Fu considered a hard, or external, martial art form of Qigong. Qigong provides the foundational power, strength, focus, discipline, etc. for all of these martial arts practices (regardless of whether they are "hard" or "soft") through manipulation and balancing of the body's energy. Tai Chi started as a health practice and was so effective in developing internal power that it was adapted by some into the martial art Tai Chi Chuan. Now Tai Chi is once again becoming primarily a way for people, especially older adults, to take responsibility for their own health care. The health benefits of Qigong and Tai Chi are legion. The Qigong and Energy Medicine Database™ contains over 4000 Energy Medicine references, the majority of which involve Qigong. A particularly good summary of the benefits of Tai Chi can be found in:
Li, J X; Y Hong; K M Chan. Tai chi: physiological characteristics and beneficial effects on health. British Journal of Sports Medicine, June 2001 v35 i3 p148.
Also see Tai Chi for Health for more information on Tai Chi, the health benefits of Tai Chi, and additional differences between Qigong and Tai Chi.
When you cultivate balance and harmony within yourself, or in
the world -- that is Tai Chi. When you work and play with the essence
and energy of life, nature and the universe for healing, clarity and
inner peace -- that is Qigong.
Dr. Roger Jahnke explains the origins and meaning of Tai Chi, Qigong, and Kung Fu.
Unlike Qigong, most yoga (with the notable exception of Vinyasa Flow) involves very little, if any, movement. It is movement, and not just deeper breaths, that normally increases the amount of oxygen to the tissues. No amount of deep breathing will produce more oxygen to the system when the blood is already oxygen saturated. Movement is required. Movement is also key to balance and excellent health. There's the story of Bodhidharma who came from India to China around 500 CE and settled in with the monks at the Shaolin Temple, who were extremely adept at meditative techniques. However, they were not physically fit. Bodhidharma's moving Qigong practices turned the monks into lean, mean, Kung Fu fighting and meditating machines.
Yoga is based on asanas, which are essentially static poses held for varying periods of time. Although the founder of yoga (Patanjali) describes a progression from asanas to pranayama (breath practice), breathing isn't built-in to a lot of yoga classes or instruction, or it isn't taught until some skill with asanas is achieved. Another way of saying this is that breathing is incorporated into yoga practice at different times, depending upon the particular style of yoga and the teaching style of the yoga instructor. By following some styles, it can take years before breathing becomes part of the practice.
By contrast, breathing is key to Qigong from the start. Furthermore, yoga is harder to do than Qigong, especially for older adults, and yoga does not have practices that involve energy transmission. On the other hand, both can ultimately lead to similar higher levels of spiritual awareness. In terms of public perception, Qigong is where yoga was twenty years ago. Also see Qigong and Yoga.
The simple answer is no. We'll say over and over that there are many different styles of Qigong. There is no single best way to do Qigong. Some people like a single motion or stance as their entire practice. Others may want to do a type of Qigong for a particular ailment, condition, or for prevention of illness, and the complexity of the practice may vary accordingly. One of the most popular types of Qigong, especially for martial arts, is zhan zhuang ("jan jong"). This is also known as "stake standing". The practitioner stands motionless in a particular posture to develop internal strength. Others like a variety of Qigong forms, with different amounts of movement. Some even like Qigong forms (such as Wild Goose, or Dayan) that are similar to Tai Chi forms in that they are long forms with many individual movements that may take from a few minutes to forty-five minutes to complete once.
Ultimately, find a form or type of Qigong that you like. If you eventually get tired of it, try a different type of Qigong. If you are very fortunate, you can find a good teacher in your area that can help you with your practice and show you new forms and how to more effectively do the Qigong that you have chosen. Also note that there some Qigong masters who argue that your body knows best -- so just do any general Qigong practice with proper intent and your body will do the right thing.
Start with the Teacher Directory on the Qigong Institute website. If you don't find what you want there, try the Teacher Directories on one of the following sites: the National Qigong Association, the Institute of Integral Qigong and Tai Chi, and the World Tai Chi and Qigong Day.
Be wary of teachers who want more money to show you each new level of Qigong, teachers whose Qigong practice consists trying to impress you through seemingly incredible physical feats, and those who claim that you are getting the benefits of Qigong from them, and not directly from your practice. Beyond that, some evaluation will be required on your part. You have to see whether you like the teacher's teaching style or resonate with their type of Qigong or Tai Chi. There's no problem with trying a number of teachers. Each of us is different, so a teacher who would appeal to one student might not appeal to another. There's a lot of subjectivity/personal preference involved in the selection.
Perhaps the best advice, especially when you are starting out, is try to get references from people you know and whose opinions you trust, and/or just try a bunch of different teachers. Eventually you'll find what you are seeking. Try taking a few seminars from the teachers you can find in the Teachers Directory. This is an excellent way to get acquainted with quality Qigong practice. More considerations on teachers can be found in Qigong Teachers - Masters or Chinese Knock-offs? Finding a Qualified Qigong Instructor.
Doing Qigong is a way to strongly support your own fundamental health and invest in your future health, healing, and happiness. It is important, however, that you understand there is a bit of a 'period of exploration and discovery' involved. One often needs to be exposed to several different teachers and styles before one finds the most appropriate one for his/her particular needs. In addition, it is important to be clear about exactly what is your goal in practicing Qigong. Try to find a style or practice that helps you to meet that goal. Different practices have different effects. Make sure you are choosing a style that will support you toward your desired outcome. For example, some Qigong forms have the specific quality of developing specific sensory ability such as vision or olfactory. Others will focus on calming the nervous system and relieving anxiety. Yet others will develop one's stamina or mental acuity. Still others support immune function or digestive function, etc. Experiment, practice, and enjoy different types of Qigong as you create and refine your own Qigong practice. Ultimately, the Qigong practice that keeps you doing your practice is the one that is right, at least to start with. You may develop a base set of favorite Qigong forms and then add new forms and movements as you deepen your practice.
The Qigong Institute does not teach classes. Current information about qigong conferences and special events is listed in What's New. You can also check for teachers and classes in your own area (see the Qigong Institute Teacher Directory).
There are many excellent books on Qigong. You can learn how to do a non-moving form of Qigong from a book. Although you can learn some motion-oriented Qigong practices from books, it is best to study a video or DVD. If you already know Taiji or Qigong, then it is much easier to pick up a new Taiji or Qigong form from a video/DVD because you understand the basics of energy cultivation. Still, some subtleties of particular forms will elude you, and they really require some sessions with a master. It's the old 80-20 rule: You can get eighty percent of the form from the video/DVD, but the rest you really need to get from the master/teacher. However, the 80-20 rule doesn't hold as well for someone with no experience. Also, only remarkable individuals or those who have had lots of previous Taiji experience will be able to truly master a Tai Chi form from a video.
Don't let any cautions stop you: You can always learn enough from a video or DVD (show me some Qigong DVDs) to benefit your health and spirit. However, there are many layers and subtleties to many forms of Qigong and Tai Chi. Understanding how energy flows and how to kinesthetically make that happen often requires time spent with a Master or teacher. Tai Chi or Qigong forms (as opposed to individual movements that are repeated some number of times) are best learned from an expert (e.g. a master or a teacher). You can also check out Qigong and Energy Medicine Books and Qigong Study Materials.
Traditionally, most people do it in the morning. This is when the Qi is "best", the complexities in your daily life have not started to happen yet, and air pollution is normally at a low point for the day. Practices may last a few minutes, ten minutes, or an hour. Practice when it feels right to you and for as long as it feels right (although more than an hour at any one time is considered a lot). This answer is ambiguous and subjective. But that's the nature of doing the practice. Some times will feel better than others, and you should feel free to practice whenever you want. There may be some suggested guidelines depending upon the type of Qigong form that you are doing. Ultimately, it is best to incorporate Qigong practice into your life and do it all time. To do this, just Stop, Breathe, Relax.
You can see that there are many different recommendations on when to practice and how to practice. Don't practice because you feel you have to practice. If you do, Qigong will become something that you feel compelled to do, just like any other exercise, and not something that you are. Millions do it in China, and practically all of them do it in the morning. This is the traditional time to do it. It may have as much to do with convenience as anything else.
Is it OK to mix different Qigong systems? Is it true that people should find one type of Qigong they enjoy doing, and NOT mix it with another form of Qigong?
It's fun to do different stuff -- this is a good way to prevent practices from becoming boring. Eventually you might want to specialize in a particular Qigong or you will potentially settle in upon a certain set of practices. These may change over time as you become more experienced with Qigong. You can also practice different Qigong forms at different times of the day. For example, you may do your Tai Chi in the morning and Qigong in the early evening before dinner.
We'd have to see this and experience it for ourselves to believe that it is possible. Many such claims by presumed "Qigong Masters" turn out to be stage tricks done on a gullible population. It usually involves a subject who is in on the trick. This is especially true in instances where you see a master is pushing his own students.
There are several schools of thought here. One is that you should just do your Qigong practice and let your body do its natural healing thing (i.e. you activate the "healer within") because it's smarter than you are and knows what it needs. The other is that you should do specific practices for specific problems. If the problems are chronic or severe, it is best to seek advice from a qualified Medical Qigong Therapist or doctor (OMD, or Doctor of Oriental Medicine).
Any practice that involves controlling appetite through mind control or physical practices has the potential to help with weight loss.
Check on the web. There are numerous programs in the US and many more in China. Some examples are the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, the International Institute of Medical Qigong, the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine, and the University of East-West Medicine. For more information see Integrative Medicine and Medical Qigong Therapy.
How do I know when to believe over-the-top hype claims of a Qigong master?
The main thing to watch out for is people who charge more money for revealing each new Qigong practice. Worse is those who claim that any benefit you derive from your practice comes from them. It doesn't. The benefit of Qigong practice comes from you. Since Qigong Masters are not licensed in the USA, it's a little bit difficult to know whether they are in fact medically competent. Note that people cannot practice medicine without a license, yet the constitution of the US says that people can speak their minds (and teach whatever they want, as long as they aren't "practicing medicine without a license"). Also, the problems with Western medicine are huge (see Qigong - Energy Medicine for the New Millennium, available on the QI website's Scientific Papers page), and more and more people are turning to CAM (Complementary and Alternative Medicine) for solutions for their health problems.
There are many grades of certification and expertise of practitioners of alternative (to standard western) medicine. An OMD (Oriental Medical Doctor) or Medical Qigong Therapist should be able to produce documentation of their certification as trained medical practitioners. They are certified to give medical advice and treatments in a clinical setting. Qigong/Tai Chi teachers can also be certified to teach Qigong and Tai Chi. There are two main ways this will occur. One is where you get a certification based on a number of hours of study, like 200. This is the common requirement for yoga instructors, for instance. For an example of how to obtain Qigong and Tai Chi Teacher certification see the Institute of Integral Qigong and Tai Chi. People also get certification from a lineage holder in a Tai Chi or Qigong form who certifies that the teacher is qualified. Beyond that, you have people who teach Qigong classes and are "Qigong Masters" who may or may not have any of the above qualifications/certifications. Some judgment on your part may be required as to their real expertise. Find a teacher/master you can learn from and who gets you excited about your practice. That is always a good way to start. Also, realize that some of the best teachers of what you are interested in learning are not "masters" and do not call themselves masters.
Some Qigong masters claim this skill. Some people claim to have been healed this way. There are many reports of remote intention (such as prayer) helping people. There is also much evidence of people being helped simply by knowing that others are sending their thoughts, love, and good energy. This is part of the placebo effect, which is quite real and is becoming a subfield of study in neuroscience. A popular press article can be found in Parade magazine: Why Prayer Could Be Good Medicine, Diane Hales, March 23, 2003: 4:5. For more scientific information on placebos, start with "Pain and the Placebo - what we have learned", Hoffman, Harrington, and Fields, Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, volume 48, no 2 (spring 2005): 248-65. John Hopkins University Press. Also see the Placebo page on the QIgong Institute website.
Also, an entirely new field of medicine has been created in the last twenty five years to address the relationship between thoughts, emotions, and health: psychoneuroimmunolgy. This field studies the n-way interrelationship between the nervous system, immune system, and psychological states. A fascinating background book (and a great read, especially for non-scientists) on this topic is
Pert, C. The Molecules of Emotions. Why You Feel the Way You Feel. Scribner. New York. 1997.
Even more recently, psychoneuroimmunology has been expanded to include endocrinology and it goes by the name psychoneuroimmunoendocrinology.
As far as how remote intention would work if someone doesn't know that they are being thought of or prayed for, this is currently being researched mainly in the realm of physics, and such topics as particle entanglement, quantum field theory, subtle energy, and stochastic electrodynamics.
That there is Qi (or vital energy) and a person's Qi can be affected by someone else is not a question. We've had too many first-hand experiences to feel or believe otherwise. But the Qi is either circulated or transmitted from very short distances, on the order of inches or less. To find out what science has to say about Qi, see The Scientific Basis of Qigong and Energy Medicine.
Openings and closings done to honor the practice are not essential to the practice, but they are nice to do. Closing by smoothing your energy or storing energy is part of many forms of Qigong. It really depends upon the particular form. Try different practices and let your own body guide you in developing your own routine. Also, a nice way to end any Qigong session is with a short self-massage.
In general, absolutely not. Side effects would be an exception for a very small minority of people. Some people claim that Energy Medicine practices like Qigong can cause side effects. We've had an OMD (Oriental Medical Doctor) tell us that the only people who could possibly experience this would be people who already had psychological disorders before practicing Qigong. And even with these people the chance of a problem is incredibly remote. Others point out that there are some more advanced practices that can potentially lead to problems, such as obscure male sexual abstinence practices.
For more information on the side effects issue, there is an excellent section on it in A Criticism of Qigong with Pseudoscience Method by the Qigong Institute's Director of Research, Kevin Chen, available on the QI website in the Scientific Papers section.
If you have any questions or concerns at all about this, seek qualified medical advice. There are psychologists trained in Qigong, for example, Dr. Michael Mayer.
A person's Qi is normally affected by practicing Qigong. However, a few companies have created Qi machines to mimic at least the acoustic portion of Qigong energy, and they are being used extensively for medical therapy. These machines are for real, they were developed based on original research done in China, and they can provide help to some people. Qigong machines are best found via the web (google "qi machine" for more information). Thousands have been sold, and many people have found them useful. Note: not all "Qi machines" are created equal. If you really want one, do your homework on who produced it and know whose technology it's based on.
There are thousands -- maybe tens of thousands.
Any Qigong practice done sincerely should help with both concentration and focus.
The simple answer is no, and we aren't qualified to give general advice for particular medical problems. Check with a qualified Medical Qigong Therapist or Medical Doctor.
It feels different for different people. Some report tingling, puffiness or swelling (as in the hands), hot flushes, or heat. Others may feel like there is invisible force acting on them (especially when the palms are held facing each other in the form of an imaginary ball). However, many people, even those who have been practicing for years, may feel nothing. This is perfectly ok. They can still be getting the benefits of Qigong but just not feel it. If people do not "feel the Qi" and start worrying about not feeling it, they separate themselves from the practice, and this is to be avoided. That being said, there will be some cases where there are actual blockages that have to be removed by practice or with the help of a master or therapist before someone can feel the Qi. These blockages are often associated with conditions such as injuries or pain or musculoskeletal misalignments.
Having had a lot of first-hand experience, we'd have to say the answer is yes, you can definitely feel the effects of someone "transmitting energy to you" or "working with you energetically". One of the common feelings that arises is that of increased warmth. The mechanism for how this works is still being debated and researched, but the fact that something is happening energetically, can be perceived by the senses, and can be measured scientifically is not. Just a few of the questions associated with this are: Where does the energy come from? What exactly is the energy? Is the Master opening blocked energy pathways in the patient or is energy being transmitted? Is the Master inducing energy flow in the patient? Is the energy coming from the Master, or is the Master merely channelling energy from the environment through the patient? Note that you don't have to be a "Master" to have the experience of being able to induce Qi flow. You can learn some basic techniques in a relatively short period of time.
Glad you asked. The Chinese love to discuss the question: What is Qi? Frankly, no one knows what Qi is because it cannot yet be measured by any medical science or explained via physics. However, there is a lot of science behind Qigong -- more so than any other form of Energy Medicine (some other examples are yoga, pranic healing, therapeutic touch, reiki), although there is also a lot of recent research becoming available on the effectiveness of acupuncture. The Qigong and Energy Medicine Database™contains over to 4000 references to articles and research studies on Energy Medicine, of which Qigong is the major part. A good survey article (be sure to check out the References section) can be found on the Qigong Institute website Scientific Papers page: Qigong – Energy Medicine for the New Millennium by QI Vice President, Tom Rogers. A great book to start with is Energy Medicine: The Scientific Basis ( Oschman, James L.). Elsevier Science Limited. China. 2003.
One of many organizations dedicated to Energy Medicine research is the International Alliance for Mind-Body Signaling and Energy Research. Members include UC Irvine, UC San Diego, and UCLA in the US and Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Kunming Medical College, and others, in China. The US Government's National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) sponsors research as well. There are many, many other organizations and individuals. The research runs the spectrum from bioenergetics to quantum physics to neuroscience and more. The Samueli institute as well as the NCCIH also research Energy Medicine. To date, acupuncture has received the most research attention. Also see The Scientific Basis of Qigong and Energy Medicine.
Qigong is not just a simple therapy for some diseases, but a complete recovery health system that can treat multiple chronic conditions at the same time. It is the most cost-effective healthcare method among alternative therapies. Self-initiated Qigong has unique value because it enables practitioners to take responsibility for their own health. Research on the clinical applications of Qigong surpasses any other Energy Medicine therapy.
On-going studies of Qigong address some of society's main concerns, including improving:
1. Health and longevity (e.g., stress, high blood pressure)
2. Performance of students in schools
3. Outcomes in hospital and clinical settings
4. Productivity in office environments
5. Outcome for prisoners
6. Multiple chronic conditions (hypertension, diabetes, arthritis, lower back pain, degenerated disk disease, etc.)
7. Addiction treatment outcomes
8. Complementary therapy in cancer treatment without side effects
9. Anti-aging (e.g. slowing cognitive dysfunction)
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, seventy percent of disease is preventable yet most people don't know how to do this. In fact, the DHHS report lists a number of recommendations, such as elimination of smoking, regular exercise, and proper diet. These can certainly help, however, the largest impact upon the delivery of health care in this century can be made by the adoption of Qigong's self-initiated health maintenance practices. Tens of millions of people practice Qigong every day in China. A large portion of the research done on Qigong has involved Tai Chi, the most popular and well-known moving form of Qigong. Besides aiding prevention of disease, Qigong and Tai Chi have been proven to be effective with chronic conditions and rehabilitation, stress reduction, increasing immunity, reducing muscular system tension, lowering blood pressure, easing arthritis, improving balance and flexibility, improving mental well-being, improving cardio-respiratory and musculo-skeletal function, reducing the risk of falls in seniors, and building strength.
In addition, large strides have been made researching and proving the benefits of the most well known form of Energy Medicine, acupuncture, yet most acupuncture research is done on particular illnesses or to provide targeted treatments. In order to have the greatest impact, people must be able to carry out their own self-initiated health care. Having research that proves the effectiveness of energy-based therapies would provide enormous health benefits.
There are a number of good DVDs available for Qigong, especially for beginners. We suggest you start with those that are offered by the teachers and masters listed in the Qigong Institute's Teacher Directory. A few of the DVDs that can be found this way are all of the DVDs by Francesco Garripoli (see www.kahunavalley.org) and Qigong Chi Kung - Awakening and Mastering the Medicine Within by Roger Jahnke (see www.feeltheqi.com). Beginners' videos/DVDs often only involve only upper body movement. Or if the feet are involved, they are basically stationary with the exception of a little vertical motion. After you are comfortable with the most basic types of Qigong, try some Qigong/Tai Chi practices that involve moving the whole body. A good place to start would be first video/DVD in the sequence of Paul Lam's excellent Tai Chi for Arthritis series.
There are numerous forms of Qigong; Chi Lel is one of them. It is a very good Qigong practice, and many people love it. However, it is a little more advanced (i.e. it’s a bit harder to learn) than many other types of Qigong and it is more energetic to practice. Unless you have someone locally to teach you, it would be best to start with an easier type of Qigong.
We suggest that your Master consider applying for a listing on our Qigong Directory of Teachers/therapists listing. A free listing includes name, address, phone & Email, and principle activity. Many people prefer the Personal Access Page (PAP) in which you can include details of your practice as well as well as a link to your website; the PAP requires that the individual become a member of the Qigong Institute for a $40 annual fee.
See previous answers concerning teachers, DVDs, and research information that is available. Also, we would highly recommend that you take some seminars from teachers listed in the Teachers Directory. This is the quickest way to get up to speed on Qigong and help you figure out where to go next in your studies.
The main forms of breathing are natural, abdominal, and reverse abdominal. Natural is the every-day breathing that most of us do, which normally involves filling the chest with air first and then some of the abdomen. Full abdominal breathing is used with Qigong. On inhale, your abdomen fully expands first, then your chest. Babies breathe this way, so we all knew how to do it the right way at one point in our lives. Reverse abdominal breathing is a more advanced form of breathing where your abdomen contracts on inhale. This form of breathing is not recommended without the guidance of a Qigong teacher or master. For more information on breathing, see the Empty Vessel Interview on Breathing with Dennis Lewis.
Your question is pretty general. It's kind of like trying to figure out which type of car to buy. There are a lot of choices out there, depending upon your criteria. In your case, you are asking about a specific medical condition, musculoskeletal pain. Qigong doctors and therapists usually use pretty specific solutions tailored to a patient's condition(s). Thus, the Qigong professional would say that it is hard to generalize. This is especially true if you need an exercise for pain in the shoulder vs. pain in the leg vs. pain in the elbow, for instance. That being said, Qigong is inherently a medical practice, such that many Qigong practices are able to benefit many conditions. In fact, people often start doing Qigong to cure one problem, and they surprisingly end up curing another in addition to what they were originally trying to help.
As part of your research, you should definitely check out the Qigong and Energy Medicine Database™ . You should be able to pick up some good material. It might also overlap with what you can get from Medline. Beyond that, you should try to find a good alternative bookstore and see what kinds of books they might have on Qigong. It won't be easy to find material that you'll be able to use. However, one book will be exactly what you need for a good foundational understanding of medical Qigong practices that can be used by a broad range of people for a broad range of conditions. The book includes general Qigong exercises as well as some reports by people on which Qigong practices they used for particular problems. It's an excellent resource for you: The Healer Within by Roger Jahnke. You might also want to look at his book The Healing Promise of Qi, but definitely start with The Healer Within. Both books are available through the Qigong Store.
Some libraries also have good online resources. Also, universities are starting to integrate Qigong and Tai Chi directly into their curriculums. One example is the Department of Kinesiology at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Also, look at the References section of the paper Qigong - Energy Medicine for the next Millenium on the QI's Scientific papers page. These will give you an idea of the fields of research that are involved with Qigong. It ranges from kinesiology to neuroscience to molecular biology to psychology, and more. There are more references that might be of interest on www.worldtaichiday.org. Also, look at the QI's Related Links page.
This answer is really for any illness or condition, not just MS or ME. Look at the research papers that are posted or referenced on the Qigong Institute web site. The papers themselves as well as the bibliographies have a wealth of information. Some excellent papers, all authored by Ken Sancier (founder and CEO of the QI), are "Medical Applications of Qigong", "Therapeutic Benefits of Qigong Exercises in Combination with Drugs", and "Anti-Aging Benefits of Qigong". Another example – if you look at the paper "Qigong - Energy Medicine for the New Millennium" (written by Qigong Institute Vice President Tom Rogers and available on the QI website on the Scientific Papers page) you'll see the following references for the benefits of Qigong and Tai Chi for aging:
Li, J X; Y Hong; K M Chan. Tai chi: physiological characteristics and beneficial effects on health. British Journal of Sports Medicine, June 2001 v35 i3 p148.
Gallagher, Bill. Tai Chi Chuan and Qigong: physical and mental practice for functional mobility. Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation, July-Sept 2003 v19 i3 p172(11).
You should also be able to get these references through the online Qigong and Energy Medicine Database™ . In addition, you may be able to search your local library databases online and get many very useful references, including the above. We’d also recommend a couple of books to start with, The Healer Within by Roger Jahnke, and The Way of Qigong by Ken Cohen. Jahnke’s website is also a good place to visit (www.feeltheqi.com), as are other sites referenced on the Qigong Institute website. www.feeltheqi.com and www.worldtaichiday.org both have a number of references and articles on the benefits of Qigong and Tai Chi for a variety of diseases and conditions.
Although the practice of Qigong has helped some people with some of the symptoms of this disease, we know of no random clinical trials definitely proving that there is any correlation between the alleviation of symptoms and practicing Qigong. However, stress has a way of exacerbating problems, and working for a living doesn’t help either (but it’s unavoidable). So reduction of stress can probably help any condition.
There are several references for Meniere’s disease in the Qigong and Energy Medicine Database™. The treatments are either Qigong or Qigong in combination with acupuncture. You can search the Qigong and Energy Medicine Database™ to get these references, and research any other diseases. A nominal fee is charged for abstracts, and all proceeds go to supporting Qigong Institute programs, like maintaining the online database and the QI website.
You might find the video Creating Flexibility by Bingkun Hu interesting. Any type of Qigong that involves a lot of flexibility practices may be good for chronic repetitive stress. See Dr Hu's website for more info.
There is a practice called "Iron Shirt" Qigong. You create an "iron shirt" by stretching your connective tissue, especially tendons, through its range of motion. Thus, you "put on" an iron shirt by doing these exercises since your connective tissue becomes greatly strengthened and more flexible (i.e. you have a greater comfortable range of motion). Roger Jahnke has some of these exercises on his wonderful DVD "Qigong Chi Kung - Awakening and Mastering the Medicine Within You". You can order this various ways, including from his website.
Another thing you might look into is Qigong Massage. It also goes by a more generic inclusive name Tui Na. Shaolin Tui Na massage is a well known form of Tui Na. Shiatsu is a more recent name for energy massage that may be more familiar, but it's basically a rediscovery of Qigong. Acupressure is also a very generic term for Qigong massage. You can find a version of Tui Na massage on one of Francesco Garripoli's DVDs.
One more thing, if you haven't read them already, The Way of Qigong by Cohen and The Healer Within by Jahnke are very good beginning Qigong texts. Cohen's book is broader and more inclusive while Jahnke's book focuses on Qigong practices that anyone can learn and start doing without requiring special instruction.
Qigong Master Michael Tse is located in England and has several centers. He was a student of Yang Mei-jun, the Wild Goose (Kunlun Mountain School) Qigong lineage holder who recently passed on at age 105. Michael also teaches and practices marital arts and Qigong healing. See Tse Qigong Centre.
A friend of ours and a person who has come on China Qigong Study Trips is named David Lees. He is an excellent Qigong teacher, and though a bit of a drive from London, a person well worth getting in touch with. He has a caring heart and much experience in Qigong and Traditional Chinese Medicine. You can write him at:
Lastly, check the Qigong Institute's Teacher Directory for teachers in your area.
Many doctors are hesitant to try Qigong and other Complementary and Alternative Therapies. This is often due to cultural biases, as well as medical training that does not include exposure to these profound eastern healthcare therapies. Your question could apply to many other energy therapies besides Qigong. One of the best ways to educate western doctors and introduce them to eastern healing arts is DJ Benor's (a western trained MD) article "Energy Medicine for the Internist", Med Clin North Amer 2002. 86(1), 105-125. Beyond that, the Qigong and Energy Medicine Database™ has thousands of references to articles on the medical benefits of Qigong. One excellent article that summarizes some of these benefits is K. Sancier's “Medical Applications of Qigong”, Alternative Therapies, Jan 1996. Vol 2. No 1. This is also available on the QI website on the Scientific Papers page. Another article to look at is “Qigong for Cancer: Self-Healing Practice”, by Daniel Ko, in the July 2005 Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients. Also consider contacting practitioners of complementary and alternative medicine at The Arizona Cancer Center.
Guo Lin's cancer recovery Qigong became so popular within China that it was adopted in hospitals and healthcare centers across the country. There are two important aspects to using Qigong for cancer: One is the Qigong practice itself and the benefit it can provide, and the other is the group aspect, or the benefit that group support provides. Both are intrinsic to achieving the benefits of Guo Lin’s cancer recovery Qigong, which has become so widely practiced that it is just called Guo Lin Qigong.
Personally, we believe that people have everything to gain and nothing to lose by doing Qigong. There are many documented successes in Qigong therapy for cancer, but no literature on any side effect of Qigong for cancer. As Qigong therapy may significantly reduce the side effect of chemotherapy by boosting up the immune system, the practice of Qigong would actually help the patient to complete the course of chemotherapy and recovery from the side effect of conventional therapy. Therefore, allowing a patient to try Qigong only stands to increase the effect of the doctor's conventional therapies, and benefit both patient and the doctor.
The doctor should learn more about the field of Energy Medicine and develop his understanding about the functions and correct applications of Qigong. The best way is for the doctor to try some Qigong. Beyond that, we understand that it is difficult to know what type of Qigong might be appropriate and how one should decide on a good Qigong teacher, Therapist, or OMD. It is best that the patient investigate several teachers and methods before deciding. The patient should have a feeling of confidence in the personal integrity of the teacher and in the method or style being taught. The technique should actually feel good to the patient. They should feel better after having practiced the Qigong form.
The rare situation would be 1) when a patient has a metal implant in the key area or organ transplant that depends upon low immune function (since Qigong will build up immune system quickly, that may form some rejection from the body), or 2) people who have a history of psychotic disorder are not recommended to do deep meditation Qigong. If you have any question at all about your particular condition, consult qualified medical assistance.
Note that there are some Qigong forms that may not produce the desired results. It is also possible, like with anything, that a given form is not appropriate to an individual's temperament or current condition -- just as if someone is told to study some tennis or yoga, weightlifting, pilates, dance or even stretching. Each individual must find methods, techniques and teachers to suit their own, individual physical needs, style, and preferences. Otherwise, results will not be optimal. It is also possible that one can practice a Qigong style that is not appropriate to his condition. One must be clear with the teacher about one's needs and goals before deciding upon a Qigong form to study. A qualified Qigong professional should be able to prescribe a method that is helpful. One must then feel confident in the method and the teacher. If not, one should find more appropriate instruction.
Go for it! Qigong should have many benefits for cancer patients without any disadvantage. Please see the following review on Qigong therapy for cancer for more details:
Chen K, & Yeung R, 2002. "A review of qigong therapy for cancer treatment." Journal of International Society of Life Information Science. 20 (2): 532-542.
Even in the US, hospitals are starting to incorporate Qigong into their cancer recovery programs. Arnold Tayam’s work at Stanford Medical Center is one example. Other Doctors of Oriental Medicine (OMDs) have written extensively on the use of Qigong as a cancer treatment. Jerry Alan Johnson is one such OMD. Also see The Arizona Cancer Center and Qigong for Cancer.
Ask them whether it is enough to walk his/her dog one day or one week for the entire life of the dog. You just have to do it everyday to see the benefit. Also, ask what type of Qigong they had tried and for how long? Did they practice with consistency and sincerity, e.g. with dedication in their mind? Or did they practice with their mind wondering off into distant places or in constant doubt that their practice would not be helpful? Constant doubt can be lethal to any practice (see previous answer on placebos and psychoneuroimmunology). Did they enjoy the practice and feel comfortable with it? What results did they expect? The teacher/Master should make clear what one can expect from practice. If that goal is not reached after having performed the practice in the prescribed way and frequency, then it is clearly not the right practice for them. It may not be sufficient or complete enough. The teacher may also be lacking in sufficient skill or understanding. The proof should be in the pudding. One should feel better. If they do not, then first clarify that with the teacher. Ask if there are any adjustments that need to be made in the practice. Following that, if results are not clear, then use a different method that is designed to help meet one's specific goals.
Also, it's very difficult to know why someone did not have any results. There are many factors to consider, such as length of practice, type of practice, and whether they had a support group. Furthermore, people have to realize that nothing is a silver bullet with cancer. Chemotherapy isn't. Surgery isn't. Qigong isn't. In other words, people who practice Qigong still get cancer, and people who know Qigong well still get sick and die from cancer. If a cancer patient is not getting results using some type of Qigong, see another Qigong doctor and try a different Qigong regimen.
See Chen K, Turner FD, 2004. "A case study of simultaneous recovery from multiple physical symptoms with medical qigong therapy." The Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine. 10(1): 159-162. Also see Dr. Ted Cibik's account of his dealing with "incurable asthma".
The most effective way to practice Qigong, or do any type of exercise for that matter, is in an unimpaired state.
What you are describing sounds very much like transmitting qi. There is a section in Roger Jahnke's book The Healing Promise of Qi that talks about this ability/phenomena. Just about anyone can learn to transmit qi, but some are fortunate enough to recognize that they have this gift and use it to help others (like you seem to be doing).
We're not aware of anyone testing people to provide a certification that a person can in fact transmit qi, although testing is sometimes done on research projects where the goal is to characterize or measure the qi being transmitted. Usually Qigong Therapists do transmission of qi during a healing session. The person doing the energy healing is most often a Qigong Master, an OMD (Oriental Medical Doctor), massage therapist, a Medical Qigong Therapist, or someone certified to do Reiki or Therapeutic Touch.
The qualifications for certification vary in different countries, so you'd have to research what would be required where you live. However, we'd suggest looking into being certified in Qigong Therapy or Therapeutic Touch to begin with. These are recognized fields in Energy healing, and they are probably the easier certifications to meet. Also, Therapeutic Touch is being recognized by the Western medical establishment, and is being used by nurses. There are many levels of Qigong Therapy certification, with successive levels requiring more study. The Internet is probably the best place to start your research (I think you already did by sending your question) into where certification programs are offered. You may have to travel and do a residence program (weeks/months) of some sort.
To be a little more specific on where you can go for certification, Dr. Jerry Johnson (China) went to Hai Dian University, Medical Qigong College of Beijing, in China and received training and certification after his healing abilities were tested. Arnold Tayam (OMD) was also certified at that hospital.
See the bottom of the Qigong Institute home-page for a two-sided one-page hand-out on Qigong and the Qigong Institute. Also on the website you'll find research and reference material, as well as the online Qigong and Energy Medicine Database™. Be sure to check-out the Qigong for Health, Tai Chi for Health, and Getting Started with Qigong pages. For information on teachers, see the Qigong Institute Teacher Directory.
Hopefully you can find interesting information on the QI website, or on some of the Related Links websites.
See the Qigong Institute Teacher Directory and the related teacher directory links on that page. You may be able to find a good local teacher through one of them -- and they would speak your language! Another choice would be to contact one of the teachers on the Qigong Institute's Teacher Directory page (who may not be located in your country). They are all very well qualified and many of them give seminars internationally. Also, google "qigong country", "chi kung country", "tai chi country", and "taiji country" where "country" is the actual name of your country.
Qigong is going to help you physically and mentally in a number of ways, especially if you are active. In order to be active, you have to be healthy. In order to be healthy, do Qigong. Qigong is extremely effective for prevention of illness and maintaining wellness -- so that you don't have to take advantage of it's proven therapeutic value for the treatment of diseases, especially chronic ones.
Realize that Qigong is not something you just go and do like an exercise class. If you are serious about it and want the most benefit, you try to do it all the time: sitting in traffic or meetings, in lines/queues, while passively watching events, while doing the dishes, etc. How do you do this? Your mantra is simply this: adjust your posture (easiest – e.g. always remind yourself to straighten your shoulders so the energy will flow better), adjust your breath (next easiest -- you have to find ways to remind yourself to do deep diaphramatic breathing), and adjusting your mind -- clearing your mind of thoughts or not dweling on thoughts and emotions so that your neurotransmitter profile heads towards the regenerative (parasympathetic) state.
If you want strength and flexibility, do the three adjustments all the time, but add some movement and more strenuous Qigong. Tai Chi is a good way to develop strength and flexibility. Some styles such as Chen and some of the weapons forms are more vigorous. Check out Bingkun Hu's 'Creating Flexibility' and Wild Goose Qigong videos/DVDs. I guarantee that if you learn Wild Goose that very few people you know will be more flexible than you. You might also check out Larry Johnson's '18 Buddha Hands' Qigong. It's a little more physically demanding than many types of Qigong.
There are thousands of types of Qigong. Part of the fun is trying different ones and adapting them to your own practice. In no time you'll have more than you have time for! Another good one to check out is anything from Francesco Garripoli (www.kahunavalley.org).
Qi energy is not something real and measurable from western science's standpoint. No one knows what qi really is, and there are no devices yet that are capable of measuring it. Discovering and measuring qi is still very much a research project in the scientific community. However, there have been some successes measuring acupuncture pathways, which are basically qi pathways. At least one company has created a "qi machine" based on the acoustic portion of the qi energy spectrum. This work was done in China. A Qigong master went into a perfectly quiet room used for testing hearing, and qi energy was acoustically measured coming from the master's hand. It is also mentioned in the PBS documentary “Qigong - Ancient Chinese Medicine for the 21st Century.” You could go into the the Qigong and Energy Medicine Database™and look for the reference to this work or other references to scientific measurement of qi. What might be more helpful would be to use google and search for "qi machine". You could then do some research into the products based on the results. But again, realize that these machines are based on the acoustic signal only, and that is only part of what qi really is. However, thousands of these machines have been sold, and many people have said that they have benefited from them. You may be able to contact the companies that produce these products and ask them for technical information, but it is doubtful that this information would be useful for your Qigong practice.
There is a lot of research into qi and Energy Medicine (especially acupuncture) going on at various universities and research centers. People are investigating using ultrasound and SQUIDs, among other devices. Just for some background on Energy Medicine, you might want to read the paper "Qigong - Energy Medicine for the New Millenium" which you can download for free from the QI website (look on the Scientific Research page). One of the more published energy researchers is James Oshman, his book ("The Scientific Basis of Energy Medicine") is referenced in this paper. It's a great book. He might have some newer papers that would interest you.
Do not assume that anything with Qigong will go faster or better with some device. It won't. There aren't any devices except for the qi machine, and it's doubtful that it would be of much help in your practice. The whole point with Qigong is to do the practice, not read about it, although the reading and researching is a lot of fun. Actually, the fastest way to improve would be to find a great Qigong teacher near you. See previous FAQ responses for more information on this.
There is at least one device that you might look into. It was created by the Institute of Heart Math. Read some of their papers. They are very interesting. Their machine is a bio-feedback machine. You can use it to calm your mind/lower your stress. This is also one of the major benefits you get from practicing Qigong. So it's a "machine" that can help you with your Qigong practice since it will tell you whether you are calming your nervous system. Google "heart math" and then go to the Institute of Heart Math and you'll be able to find the device somewhere on their site or possibly on someone else's, since other sites sell it now.
For more information on technical devices that measure EM fields, see Energy-Based Technologies and Therapies.
See the paper "Use of Qigong Therapy in the Detoxification of Heroin Addicts". You can get a copy on the Scientific Papers page on the Qigong Institute web site. You can do pretty much any type of Qigong for drug addiction. You'll note in the article that they don't have a particular Qigong to recommend, but they use a simple one. We'd recommend starting with a very easy to learn and practice type of Qigong. The enhanced vitality method by Roger Jahnke would be great. Another set of excellent DVDs can be found at kahunavalley.org. Any one of these would be good. The main point about the recommended DVDs is that anyone can learn to do basic Qigong with them (no personal instruction necessary).
Any Qigong would work for this. It's mainly the meditative aspect of Qigong that helps people focus, become more aware, and de-stress. These and other benefits of Qigong practice result in an enhanced ability to learn. Qigong and Tai Chi, a martial arts form of Qigong, are used in many school situations. It is usually done by individual teachers locally, so it's a bit hard to get write-ups on it, although some have appeared in either Empty Vessel or Qi Journal. One program that has been very successful and been used for a number of years was started by Dr. Gaspar Garcia. If there isn't anything about this on his website (luohan.com) yet, you could try contacting him. Also see kahunavalley.org for information on bringing Qigong into the school. Kahuna Valley is doing this with their local school district and has also worked with corporations. I also just visited a friend today who has a dojo with many children's programs. They teach karate, but they also teach Qigong. This is a wonderful combination for kids, especially. Discipline, respect, hard work, and wonderful life skills such as the ability to de-stress on demand and exercise and regulate the immune and nervous systems.
There is a complete text-book for this. It is the most thorough presentation of the subject that one could imagine: "Taoist Secrets of Love -- Cultivating Male Sexual Energy" by Mantak Chia. I think there's one for women too….
Thanks for the pointer. Their program focuses on meditation, which is excellent. Qigong is a combination of this along with movement, breathing, and self-massage. Meditation helps the most with handling stress and the development of mental concentration and clarity. But note that in order to be fully healthy, you have to do the movement and breathing too. The Shaolin monks were excellent at meditation, but not that healthy or physically capable. Then along comes Bodhidharma and introduces movement and breathing exercises. The rest, as they say, is history: The Shaolin monks became world famous, and for many good reasons. They are astounding to watch in person.