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What Is Qigong?

Discover the Timeless Wisdom of Qigong, Rooted in Chinese Wisdom

For over four thousand years, qigong has played a crucial role in Chinese culture, extensively studied and practiced. Its diverse applications empower individuals to enhance and maintain physical and mental health, amplify martial arts prowess, and pursue spiritual cultivation. To accomplish these objectives, various techniques are used to cultivate and balance the body's vital energy, commonly known as 'qi' or 'chi'.

From a Western perspective, qi represents the dynamic energy fundamental to the body's physiological processes. This energy is believed to be derived from the food we consume, the air we breathe, and our surrounding environment. Although there's no precise Western definition of qi, the qi circulating within all living things is often likened to bioelectricity.

Qigong (pronounced "chee-gung") is an accessible practice that anyone can learn and benefit from even with casual practice. There are numerous qigong styles, schools, traditions, forms and lineages that have distinct approaches and philosophies, but all are based upon Qi (“subtle breath” or “vital energy”) and Gong (“skill cultivated through regular practice”). While qigong offers various paths to engage with qi, consistent practice and commitment are essential to truly learn.

Please note: This page aims to provide general information about qigong, an extensive practice encompassing diverse styles and philosophies. Variations in teachings may exist, and we deeply respect the rich diversity within qigong, acknowledging that other philosophies might differ from what is presented here. Our intent is to offer insights within our scope while honoring the breadth of qigong practices.

For over four thousand years, qigong has played a crucial role in Chinese culture, extensively studied and practiced. Its diverse applications empower individuals to enhance and maintain physical and mental health, amplify martial arts prowess, and pursue spiritual cultivation. To accomplish these objectives, various techniques are used to cultivate and balance the body's vital energy, commonly known as 'qi' or 'chi'.

From a Western perspective, qi represents the dynamic energy fundamental to the body's physiological processes. This energy is believed to be derived from the food we consume, the air we breathe, and our surrounding environment. Although there's no precise Western definition of qi, the qi circulating within all living things is often likened to bioelectricity.

Qigong (pronounced "chee-gung") is an accessible practice that anyone can learn and benefit from even with casual practice. There are numerous qigong styles, schools, traditions, forms and lineages that have distinct approaches and philosophies, but all are based upon Qi (“subtle breath” or “vital energy”) and Gong (“skill cultivated through regular practice”). While qigong offers various paths to engage with qi, consistent practice and commitment are essential to truly learn.

Please note: This page aims to provide general information about qigong, an extensive practice encompassing diverse styles and philosophies. Variations in teachings may exist, and we deeply respect the rich diversity within qigong, acknowledging that other philosophies might differ from what is presented here. Our intent is to offer insights within our scope while honoring the breadth of qigong practices.


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How Does Qigong Work?

"The reason flowing water does not become putrid and the pivots (hinges) of a door are not eaten by insects is because they move. The physical body is like this too. If the body does not move then the essential qi does not flow. If this does not flow then the qi clogs up."
Lu Bu-wei's Lushi Chunqiu (Spring and Autumn Annals), in an essay called 'On Reaching our Allotted Years’, 239 BCE

What You Need To Know

Qigong works as a comprehensive system that teaches individuals methods to preserve their vital energy, cultivate it through specific practices, and then consciously lead and direct this energy within the body to maintain health, balance, and vitality.

Firstly, qigong promotes a balanced lifestyle to avoid energy depletion. Lifestyle choices that help preserve qi, such as adequate rest, balanced nutrition, moderate physical activities, and stress management are emphasized. Secondly, through tailored practices involving gentle movements, controlled breathwork, and focused intention, the individual cultivates and enhances their qi, refining its flow and enhancing its potency within the body's energy pathways. Finally, qigong teaches practitioners to consciously direct and guide qi within the body. By focusing their intention and using specific movements and breathing techniques, individuals learn to lead qi to areas that may need healing, balance, or revitalization.

These practices are believed to optimize the body's natural healing abilities and contribute to overall well-being when practiced consistently and mindfully.

Qigong Techniques and Principles

Meditation and Focused Intention

The mind holds significant sway over qi in qigong practice. The concentration and intention of an individual significantly influence how the energy moves within the body. Therefore, mindfulness and concentration play pivotal roles in reaping the full benefits of qigong. This is reflected in the ancient Chinese character 'Yi', which literally means 'bringing qi to mind'. In qigong training, the mind controls the flow of qi, just as it controls other bodily functions.

"Where the mind goes, qi flows"
Originator Unknown

Specific Movements and Forms

Qigong movements are designed to facilitate the smooth flow of 'qi' throughout the intricate network of vessels and meridians. The selection and design of these movements are influenced by an understanding of the body's energy pathways. For example, in the Five Animal Frolics, the stretching and lunging movements in the Tiger exercise set, along with the rotational motions and specific breathing techniques, work to activate and harmonize the Liver and Gallbladder meridians. There are many other qigong exercises that also use natural movements to enhance 'qi' flow. These exercises are very intentional, each chosen to support the body in maintaining balance and promoting health.


Breathwork is a foundational element within qigong, distinguishing it from conventional exercise by emphasizing deep, deliberate breathing techniques. While many people engage in strenuous activities with heavy, shallow breathing, qigong emphasizes deep breathing. This deliberate breathing practice is believed to stimulate and exercise internal organs.

In Chinese meditation, there are two fundamental approaches to breathe: Buddhist Breathing and Daoist Breathing. Buddhist Breathing, also called Abdominal Breathing, focuses on expanding the belly when breathing in and squeezing it when breathing out. It helps with mindfulness, making you more aware of your breath for better concentration. On the other hand, Daoist Breathing, also known as Reverse Abdominal Breathing, prepares the energy (qi) for movement. It's different because the belly squeezes in when you breathe in and expands when you breathe out. This method helps build up and balance the energy, making it flow better in qigong exercises.

Standing Postures

Qigong's standing postures (Zhan Zhuang) are pivotal for regulating the body's vital energy, known as qi. These static poses play a vital role in aligning the body and fostering the circulation of qi through its meridian pathways. For example, when practitioners maintain specific arm positions for an extended period, they often experience a noticeable warmth in the shoulders—a tangible sign of increased qi accumulation in that area. Upon relaxing the shoulders, this surplus energy redirects itself to regions within the body where energy levels are comparatively lower, aiming to restore equilibrium and optimize qi flow. This interaction showcases how intentional posture adjustments can significantly influence the movement and balance of energy within the body's energetic network.

Massage and Acupressure

Another technique important to qigong is the concept of acupressure points. Along each of the channels (as well as elsewhere on the body), there are points where the electrical conductivity is higher than the surrounding areas. These points, often referred to as cavities (due to being felt as small depressions or concavities) are more sensitive than other parts of the body. These points are incorporated into various qigong practices.

Acupressure involves applying gentle pressure or massage to specific points on the body. Qigong practitioners might use acupressure techniques during their practice to stimulate or balance the flow of qi through these points. By doing so, they aim to release blockages, improve qi circulation, and restore harmony in the body's energy system.

Vessels and Meridians

Understanding vessels and meridians is fundamental for qigong practitioners. This knowledge acts as a roadmap, showing practitioners the pathways through which 'qi' moves in the body. The vessels act as reservoirs or lakes, and the meridians function like rivers. When 'qi' thrives in the meridians, it naturally overflows into the vessels, akin to a river flowing into a lake. With this understanding, practitioners can employ specific qigong techniques, such as movements, postures, and breathing exercises, strategically manipulating 'qi' flow for enhanced energy circulation.

The 8 Extraordinary Vessels

The 8 extraordinary comprise of four pairs of channels vessels that function as deep reservoirs of energy within the body. These channels play a crucial role in storing and circulating qi throughout the system. Among the eight vessels, two hold particular significance in Chinese medicine. The first is the Ren Mai or Conception Vessel, tracing down the body's central front, while the second is the Du Mai or Governing Vessel, spanning along the spine and head's centerline.  Understanding the vital role of these vessels lays the groundwork for various practices aimed at harnessing their energy potential. For example, once sufficient qi is accumulated, many practitioners use focused intention to guide the qi to circulate in these two major vessels (ex: Microcosmic Orbit). This circulation of qi interacts with the meridians it connects to along its pathway.

The 12 Primary Meridians

In Chinese medicine and qigong practice, the twelve primary meridians form the core framework of the body's energy pathways. These meridians are channels through which qi (vital energy) flows, connecting various organs and parts of the body. Each primary meridian is associated with a specific organ and has its own pathway throughout the body.

Select a meridian and scroll down to view

12 Primary Qi Channels / Meridians

The concept of the 12 regular meridians forms the foundation of understanding the body's vital energy (qi) circulation. These meridians are energy pathways through which qi flows, connecting various organs, systems, and body parts. Each meridian is associated with a specific organ and an emotional quality.

The Heart Meridian is an energy pathway associated with the heart organ. It starts in the armpit, travels down the inner arm, and ends at the tip of the little finger. This meridian plays a vital role in regulating heart functions and maintaining emotional well-being. The Heart Meridian is linked to the emotion of joy. Imbalances in this meridian can affect heart health and emotional balance.

The Lung Meridian is responsible for regulating the flow of qi, the body's vital energy. The Lung Meridian starts from the chest, runs down the inner arm, passes through the lungs, and connects with the throat and nose. This meridian is associated with the lungs, and it plays a crucial role in respiration and the immune system. It is also linked to the emotions of grief and sadness. Imbalances in the Lung Meridian are thought to be related to respiratory issues, allergies, and emotional distress.

The Stomach Meridian is an energy pathway associated with the stomach organ. It starts from the eye, runs down the face, neck, and chest, travels along the front of the body and legs, and ends at the second toe. This meridian is essential for digestion, nutrient absorption, and energy production. The Stomach Meridian is linked to the emotion of anxiety. Imbalances in this meridian can affect digestion and lead to feelings of unease.

The Kidney Meridian is an energy pathway associated with the kidneys. It starts from the sole of the foot, travels up the inner leg, passes through the kidneys, and runs up to the front of the body. The Kidney Meridian is vital for regulating the body's water balance, maintaining bone health, and supporting reproductive functions. The Kidney Meridian is linked to the emotion of fear. Imbalances in this meridian may lead to issues related to the kidneys, reproductive system, or bones.

The Large Intestine Meridian is an energy pathway associated with the large intestine organ. It starts from the index finger, runs up the arm, passes through the shoulder, and ends at the nose. This meridian is important for the digestive process, waste elimination, and immune system function. The Large Intestine Meridian is associated with the emotion of grief and letting go. Imbalances in this meridian can affect digestion and elimination processes.

The Small Intestine Meridian is an energy pathway associated with the small intestine organ. It starts from the outer tip of the little finger, runs up the arm, passes through the shoulder, and ends at the ear. This meridian is important for the digestion and absorption of nutrients. The Small Intestine Meridian is associated with the emotion of joy. Imbalances in this meridian can impact digestion and emotional well-being.

The Liver Meridian is associated with the liver organ and plays a significant role in regulating the flow of qi throughout the body. The Liver Meridian starts from the big toe, runs up the inner leg, passes through the liver and gallbladder, and then travels along the diaphragm, connecting with the lungs, throat, and eyes. It helps to regulate the smooth flow of qi and is associated with the emotions of anger and frustration. Imbalances in the Liver Meridian are thought to be linked to various physical and emotional issues.

The Bladder Meridian is an energy pathway associated with the bladder organ. It runs from the inner eye, travels over the head and down the back, following the spine and legs, and ends at the smallest toe. This meridian is vital for regulating the urinary system and supporting the body's overall energy balance. The Bladder Meridian is associated with the emotion of fear. Imbalances in this meridian can lead to urinary issues and emotional disturbances.

The Gall Bladder Meridian is one of the energy pathways. It is responsible for regulating the flow of qi, the body's vital energy. The Gall Bladder Meridian starts from the outer corner of the eye, runs along the sides of the head, down the sides of the body, and then along the legs. This meridian is associated with the gall bladder organ and is believed to play a role in decision-making and judgment. It is also linked to the emotions of courage and bravery. Imbalances in the Gall Bladder Meridian are thought to be related to issues such as poor judgment, gallstones, and emotional imbalances.

The Spleen Meridian is an energy pathway associated with the spleen organ. It starts from the big toe, runs up the inner leg, passes through the abdomen, and ends at the chest. This meridian is crucial for digestion, nutrient absorption, and immune system support. The Spleen Meridian is associated with the emotion of worry. Imbalances in this meridian can affect digestion and lead to feelings of anxiety.

The Pericardium Meridian is an energy pathway associated with the pericardium, a membrane around the heart. It starts from the chest, runs down the inner arm, and ends at the tip of the middle finger. This meridian is crucial for heart protection and emotional balance. The Pericardium Meridian is linked to joy and happiness. Imbalances can affect heart health and emotional well-being.

The Triple Warmer Meridian regulates body fluids and heat distribution. Unlike other meridians, it doesn't correspond to a specific organ but governs overall temperature and water metabolism. It starts at the ring finger, travels up the arm, circles the ear, and moves down the side of the body.

What are the benefits of Qigong?

Beyond its elegant movements and serene breathing techniques, qigong offers a many benefits that impact individuals physically, mentally, and socially. Click on the tabs below to learn about some of the many benefits of qigong:

Physical Benefits

  • Improved Balance and Coordination: Qigong exercises often involve slow, controlled movements that enhance balance and coordination, making it particularly beneficial for older adults.
  • Increased Flexibility and Range of Motion: The gentle stretches and movements in qigong promote flexibility and improve the range of motion in joints, leading to better overall mobility.
  • Pain Management: Qigong has been shown to reduce chronic pain conditions, such as arthritis and lower back pain, by promoting relaxation and improving circulation.
  • Enhanced Strength: While qigong is low-impact, some forms include postures that engage various muscle groups, contributing to overall strength and endurance.
  • Improved Circulation: The focus on deep, rhythmic breathing and gentle movements promotes better blood circulation, aiding in cardiovascular health.
  • Boosted Immune System: Regular qigong practice has been associated with enhanced immune function. The relaxation response and improved circulation contribute to a healthier immune system.
  • Improved Respiratory Function: Qigong emphasizes deep, diaphragmatic breathing, which can enhance lung capacity and improve respiratory function.
  • Balanced Nervous System: Qigong practices can help balance the autonomic nervous system, which plays a role in regulating blood pressure. By promoting balance between the sympathetic (fight-or-flight) and parasympathetic (rest and digest) nervous systems, qigong supports cardiovascular health.

Mental and Emotional Benefits

  • Stress Reduction: Qigong promotes relaxation and reduces stress by calming the mind, regulating the breath, and releasing physical tension.
  • Increased Focus and Concentration: Regular practice enhances mental clarity, concentration, and focus, which can improve productivity and cognitive function.
  • Better Sleep: Qigong's emphasis on relaxation and mindfulness can lead to improved sleep quality and help alleviate insomnia symptoms.
  • Emotional Balance: Qigong encourages emotional awareness and regulation, helping individuals manage and cope with emotions like anxiety, depression, and anger.

Social and Community Benefits

  • Sense of Community: Joining a qigong class or community provides social interaction and a sense of belonging, which can contribute to mental and emotional well-being.
  • Camaraderie: Practicing qigong in a group setting fosters a sense of camaraderie and mutual support, enhancing the overall experience.

The NQA continually reviews current scientific research that shows the benefits of qigong when used in the treatment of individuals with diseases and ailments. For more information about the research please visit our Research Updates Page.

It's important to note that the benefits of qigong are often cumulative and are best experienced with consistent and dedicated practice. As with any exercise or wellness practice, individual experiences may vary, and it's advisable to learn qigong from a qualified instructor to gain the full benefits and ensure correct techniques.

Where Can I Learn Qigong?

If you are looking for a qigong teacher, please visit the NQA Teacher Directory to find a teacher near you!

Find A Teacher

If you are a qigong teacher, consider joining the NQA as a Practitioner or Professional member to get your listing in our directory. General membership is also available for those wanting to learn more about qigong.

Learn About NQA Membership

Exploring the Paths of Qigong

Choosing a path in qigong involves understanding the diverse practices under its umbrella term. Qigong encompasses a wide range of techniques, each offering unique benefits and focusing on different areas of wellness. Two primary paths exist within qigong:

Individual and Group Practice

Qigong paths commence as wellness practices, incorporating gentle movements, breath control, meditation, and focus. These exercises can be tailored to accommodate varying physical abilities and health conditions. While the guidance of a qualified instructor is valuable, individual progress stems from personal dedication and commitment to the practice. Whether practiced alone or in a group setting, the emphasis lies on self-discipline and perseverance.

Clinical Qigong

Clinical qigong professionals, equipped with extensive training and self-cultivation, can provide exercises, meditations, and treatment plans based on various assessment systems. These plans aim to restore health, enhance wellness, or address specific health issues. Clinical qigong serves as a complementary practice alongside traditional medical care, emphasizing a holistic approach to healing.

Within the realm of Personal Cultivation, there are several distinct paths to explore:

Health Qigong

Health qigong revolves around self-cultivation techniques aimed at preventing illness and enhancing overall well-being. Practitioners engage in a variety of exercises, including the well-known "Yi Jin Jing" and other forms such as the "Ba Duan Jin" (Eight Brocades), the "Wu Qin Xi" (Five Animal Frolics), and many others. These exercises are tailored to sustain and maximize physical and mental health, promoting a balanced and harmonious lifestyle. Practicing qigong is believed to prevent disease and improve health, and there is evidence suggesting that sick individuals who practice this type of qigong tend to recover more quickly, highlighting the practice's effectiveness in promoting rapid healing and overall well-being. Health qigong offers a diverse range of practices, each contributing to vitality and resilience, making it a comprehensive approach to holistic wellness.

External Qi Healing

External qi healing, or Wai Qi Liao Fa" (外气疗法), is a practice where a clinical qigong practitioner uses their cultivated internal qi energy to influence the qi energy of another person, aiming to restore balance and promote healing. Techniques such as visualization, breathing exercises, specific hand movements, and gentle touch are employed to channel the practitioner's qi energy externally for therapeutic purposes. This approach is rooted in the belief that balancing the flow of qi energy can contribute to overall well-being and healing in the recipient.

Martial Qigong

Martial qigong, a specialized form of qigong, combines energy work with martial arts techniques to enhance physical strength, balance, agility, and mental focus. Practitioners employ various methods, including stance training for stability and rootedness, controlled breathing for energy regulation and endurance, and internal energy cultivation techniques like visualization and intention to store and direct qi. Qi emission techniques are used to disrupt opponents' balance, while Iron Shirt qigong conditions the body to withstand strikes. Mind-body coordination and meridian activation enhance martial abilities and promote a strong mind-body connection. Practiced under experienced instructors, martial qigong optimizes martial arts skills and supports overall well-being.

Spiritual Qigong

Spiritual qigong is a holistic practice rooted in Daoist and Buddhist traditions, focusing on spiritual development, self-cultivation, and the exploration of consciousness. It encompasses specific techniques, such as deep meditation and advanced internal energy cultivation (Neigong), to attain heightened states of awareness, profound stillness (Wuji), and a deep connection with one's inner self. Spiritual qigong is embraced by individuals seeking profound spiritual experiences, guiding them on a path toward inner peace and spiritual fulfillment.

Each type of qigong incorporates unique exercises and methodologies tailored to its specific goals, whether they are related to health, martial arts proficiency, or spiritual exploration. Practitioners may choose a particular type of qigong based on their individual goals and interests.

Note on the term "medical qigong": Due to the breadth and richness of the many applications of the words “medical” and “medicine” in the qigong context, the NQA has consciously removed the term "medical qigong" from its descriptions above. The definition of “medical qigong” ranges from clinically-oriented qigong with a certified professional to a personal practice of qigong for health maximization or a medical challenge. However, the NQA recognizes and supports those who use the term "medical qigong" in honoring their distinct tradition or understanding of the phrase.

The History of Qigong: Origins and Evolution

Origins and Influences

Qigong, an ancient Chinese practice, has a history spanning approximately 4,000 years. Its origins are rooted in ancient China, making it an integral part of Chinese culture and traditional medicine. The development of qigong can be traced through centuries, influenced by Daoist, Buddhist, Confucian, and Shamanic traditions. These diverse influences have shaped qigong into a multifaceted tradition, deeply woven into the fabric of Chinese history.

Daoist Philosophical Foundations

Qigong, deeply rooted in Daoist philosophy. Its historical origins intersect with pivotal texts that not only shaped Chinese medicine but also laid the philosophical groundwork for qigong practices.

The Yi Jing, an ancient manuscript predating 2400 BCE, introduced symbolic representations through eight trigrams, laying the foundation for understanding the interplay of natural forces and the energetic patterns within the human body, influencing the later conceptualization of qi circulation. The Yi Jing was probably the first book that taught the Chinese people about qi and its variations in nature and man.

During the Han Dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE), a transformative era emerged. It witnessed the fusion of Daoist philosophy with advancements in Chinese medicine, marking the rise of practices akin to qigong. Texts like Laozi's the Dao De Jing and the Huangdi Neijing/Yellow Emperor's Inner Cannon (attributed to Huang Di, but the authorship and origins are debated among scholars) were pivotal. The Dao De Jing expounded on natural harmony, simplicity, and inner energy cultivation, guiding principles within qigong practices. Meanwhile, the Huangdi Neijing, encompassing the Suwen and Lingshu, extensively explored qi circulation, meridians, and the theoretical foundations of Chinese medicine, significantly influencing qigong's understanding of vital energy flow.

These texts (along with many others), each a chapter in the historical and philosophical development of qigong, provide enduring guidance for those traversing the pathways of energy cultivation and holistic well-being within the realm of Daoist philosophy.

Buddhist Influence

Buddhism, originating in India around 600 BCE and later spreading to China, introduced meditation, mindfulness, and concentration practices. Some Buddhist monks incorporated qigong-like movements and breathing exercises into their meditation routines.  These practices emphasized mental clarity, focus, and awareness, aligning with qigong techniques. Buddhist meditation techniques were gradually integrated into various qigong styles, enriching the practice's mental and spiritual dimensions. Bodhidharma, known as Damo (达摩) in Chinese, is a legendary figure linked with the transmission of Chan Buddhism to China and the establishment of the Shaolin Temple.

Linked to Bodhidharma's teachings, The Marrow/Brain Washing Classic (Xi Sui Jing) is attributed to him and holds significance within the development of Qigong. This text delves into techniques aimed at cleansing the bone marrow and brain, seeking spiritual cultivation and mental clarity. It combines physical exercises, breath control, and meditative practices, emphasizing the integration of mind and body for holistic well-being.

A Journey of Resilience And Global Recognition

Despite its rich history, qigong faced challenges during the mid-20th century, particularly during China's Cultural Revolution, leading to the suppression of traditional practices, including qigong. Post the Cultural Revolution, qigong experienced a revival. The term "qigong" was officially coined in the early 20th century in China. According to Daoist scholar and author Catherine Despeux the word "qigong" first appeared in the title of two works published in 1915 and 1929, where it designated the force issued by working with qi and its martial applications. Qigong is an umbrella term that represents a wide range of traditional Chinese exercises and meditative practices.

In the years following its revival post the Cultural Revolution, qigong rapidly gained international recognition, becoming a widely practiced and respected discipline globally. As the knowledge of its profound benefits spread, qigong diversified into various styles, each tailored to specific purposes. Clinical qigong emerged, focusing on physical health and healing, while martial qigong emphasized self-defense techniques and internal energy cultivation. These diverse branches allowed qigong to cater to a broad spectrum of practitioners, ranging from those seeking physical wellness to martial artists harnessing its power for combat training. Today, qigong stands as a testament to the resilience of ancient practices, continuing to enrich the lives of countless individuals worldwide with its holistic approach to well-being and spiritual growth.

Who Should Practice Qigong?

A Versatile Path to Holistic Well-Being

Qigong, with its versatile nature, offers a holistic approach to well-being that caters to a diverse range of individuals. First and foremost, it is very beneficial for those who are wanting holistic wellness. By addressing not only physical but also mental and spiritual aspects of health, qigong provides a balanced and harmonious approach to life. Its adaptability is particularly evident in its appeal to seniors, offering them a gentle practice that enhances balance, flexibility, and joint mobility, contributing to healthy aging and fall prevention. Additionally, qigong serves as a refuge for individuals navigating the complexities of stress. Through its emphasis on relaxation, deep breathing, and mindfulness, it equips practitioners with tools to manage stress effectively, fostering mental calmness and emotional stability.

Qigong can also be helpful to those who are managing chronic illnesses. Its gentle movements and energy flow techniques can be tailored to individuals dealing with conditions such as arthritis and cardiovascular diseases, offering pain management and overall improvement in quality of life. The practice also finds a place in the realm of cancer care. It can be helpful to patients and survivors alike. Qigong exercises, integrated into cancer care programs, alleviate treatment-related symptoms and enhance the overall quality of life for individuals affected by this challenging condition.

Furthermore, qigong welcomes individuals on the path to recovery. For those healing from injuries or surgeries, its low-impact nature becomes a valuable aid in rehabilitation. Qigong’s gentle movements improve flexibility without imposing excessive strain, making it a gentle yet effective way to regain physical strength. The practice resonates with athletes and fitness enthusiasts, offering them a complementary tool to enhance their performance. By focusing on flexibility, balance, and mental focus, qigong becomes an asset, elevating overall body awareness and coordination, contributing positively to athletic achievements.

Qigong is a great option for those seeking spiritual growth and inner peace. Its meditative aspects become a gateway to self-discovery, providing a channel for inner peace. In the fast-paced world of busy professionals, qigong is crucial for finding balance. Its techniques, adaptable to short sessions, offer a convenient means to manage stress and maintain well-being amidst hectic schedules. Lastly, qigong stands as a practice of prevention. By enhancing the immune system, improving circulation, and promoting overall health, it becomes a valuable tool for individuals interested in maintaining good health and preventing illness.

In short, we feel that just about anyone can benefit from qigong. Qigong is very adaptable, making it accessible to people of various ages, fitness levels, and physical abilities. Its versatility allows modifications to suit individual needs, making it widely beneficial for many people.

How many times a week should you do qigong?

The amount of practice each week depends upon whether qigong is being used for health maintenance or therapy. Common times for health maintenance can vary from 30 to 60 minutes per session and three to five times per week. Session length and number of times per week may be increased during therapy. Performing qigong regularly is important to maintain related health effects.

How Long does it take to see results from qigong?

It can take minutes to months to see results from qigong, depending upon whether the practice is for health maintenance, immediate symptom relief, or therapy.

Can you do too much Qigong? 

Very few to no adverse affects have been reported due to practicing qigong. However, patients suffering from conditions such as trauma, depression, or chronic pain can be withdrawn and dissociated and are consequently not immediately available for social interaction that would help them obtain benefit from meditation-based clinical practices and therapy such as qigong. Qigong can move the autonomic nervous system towards the parasympathetic state, safely and effectively engaging a patient’s autonomic nervous system dynamics to allow them to take advantage of practices which include meditation as part of their therapy and healing.

Mitigating Risks through Proper Guidance and Mindful Approach

Qigong, while generally safe, carries risks related to incorrect movements and overexertion, potentially causing muscle strains or fatigue. Emotional release exercises may lead to unexpected responses, emphasizing the need for experienced guidance. Improper techniques due to unqualified instructors can also pose a risk. To ensure safety, practicing under supervision, respecting physical limits, and learning from qualified instructors are essential.

Important Note: Individuals with pre-existing health conditions or pregnant individuals should consult healthcare providers before starting any new exercise program, including qigong, to ensure it is safe and suitable for their specific needs. Additionally, learning qigong under the guidance of a qualified instructor ensures proper techniques and maximizes the benefits of the practice.

What is the difference between Qigong and Yoga?

Exploring the Ancient Arts: Qigong and Yoga

In the vast landscape of ancient practices designed to nurture the body and soul, two disciplines stand out prominently: qigong and yoga. Rooted deeply in cultural traditions, these arts offer unique pathways to physical and mental well-being, each infused with its own distinct philosophy and techniques.

Qigong, deeply embedded in Chinese culture, is a practice that revolves around the cultivation and harmonization of vital energy, known as qi or chi. Through gentle, flowing movements, controlled breathing, meditation, and visualization techniques, qigong seeks to balance the body's energy flow along meridians and channels, promoting internal harmony and relaxation. It is characterized by its accessibility, making it suitable for individuals of all ages and physical abilities. While qigong can encompass spiritual elements, it is generally less religious in nature, focusing primarily on health and well-being within the framework of Chinese philosophy.
Yoga, on the other hand, traces its origins to the ancient traditions of India. The term "yoga" itself signifies unity, emphasizing the profound connection between individual consciousness and the universal consciousness. Yoga encompasses a wide range of practices, including physical postures (asanas), breathing exercises (pranayama), and meditation. It offers a diverse spectrum of activities, from gentle and restorative poses to challenging and physically demanding postures. Yoga, deeply intertwined with Hinduism, Buddhism, and other Indian philosophies, often carries strong spiritual and religious significance. It explores the unity of mind, body, and spirit and is embraced by a global community seeking spiritual enlightenment and physical vitality.

Is Qigong Better Than Yoga?

The choice between qigong and yoga ultimately depends on individual preferences and specific goals. Some people find qigong's gentle, flowing movements and focus on energy flow more suitable for their needs, especially if they are looking for a practice deeply rooted in traditional Chinese medicine. Others may prefer Yoga's emphasis on physical postures, flexibility, and mindfulness, appreciating its long-standing tradition in Indian philosophy.

Interestingly, the boundaries between these ancient practices are not rigid; some practitioners incorporate elements from both traditions into their routines to enhance their holistic well-being. This fusion of wisdom allows individuals to draw from the strengths of both qigong and yoga, creating a personalized approach of well-being that resonates deeply with their individual journey.

What is the difference between Tai Chi and Qigong?

Exploring the Essence of Tai Chi and Qigong

Tai chi and qigong, both originating from ancient Chinese traditions, offer unique pathways to physical and mental well-being, yet they diverge in techniques and goals.

Tai chi chuan, commonly referred to as tai chi, is a martial art rooted in ancient China. Its known for deliberate, slow-paced sequences of movements, each flowing seamlessly into the next. These choreographed forms, often imitating the graceful motions of animals, emphasize balance, coordination, and fluidity. Tai chi practitioners delve into deep stances and meticulously shift their body weight, fostering leg strength and stability. Beyond its physical discipline, tai chi holds the essence of a martial art, where movements are designed not only for meditative purposes but also for self-defense applications.

Qigong, in contrast, represents a broader spectrum of practices within the realm of energy cultivation. Qigong exercises encompass a wide array of techniques, including gentle movements, controlled breathing, meditation, and visualization. While some styles of qigong have martial origins, the majority focus on promoting health, relaxation, and overall well-being. Unlike the intricate choreography of tai chi, qigong movements are often simpler and repetitive, enabling practitioners of various ages and physical abilities to partake in this ancient art. Qigong is not just a physical exercise; it is a holistic practice, balancing the body’s vital energy, promoting preventive health care, and offering avenues for stress reduction and holistic healing.

In essence, tai chi and qigong, though sharing roots in ancient Chinese wisdom, diverge in their complexity and primary objectives. Tai chi remains a martial art of grace and precision, honing the body’s physical and mental discipline. Qigong, on the other hand, opens its arms wider, inviting individuals on a diverse journey of health, relaxation, and spiritual balance. The choice between these ancient arts often rests on individual preferences, whether it be the pursuit of martial mastery or the embrace of holistic well-being.

Does Qigong Work?

Qigong Testimonials

Qigong has been part of my life for the last 30 years. (I am now 73 y.o.) On a medical level, qigong helped cure me of the agony of IBS, which plagued me for many years. I used to endure abdominal distress, bloating, and the anxiety that goes with IBS. Thanks to qigong and yangsheng practices, I found relief and healing. This success inspired me to become a certified qigong teacher and a Daoist priest, committed to sharing the transformative power of these Chinese healing arts.  
Michael Rinaldini
Teacher | Daoist Priest | Published Author
Qigong & Daoist Training Center, Sebastopol, CA
In June 1992, I arrived in Beijing feeling tired, jet lagged, and hungry. Our translator noticed I wasn’t feeling well.  I was lightheaded, nauseous and having a very hard time concentrating. The QiGong doctor came and placed his hands over my head and forehead clearing my mind instantly.  Without physical touch, I felt alert and more present in my body.  I felt his qi realign something in my brain!  It was a moment I will never forget. Since then, I've taught Qigong, witnessing its benefits in improving flexibility, energy, and balance; both physical and mental/emotional.
Dr. Gayl Hubatch, OMD, LAc
Acupuncturist | QiGong/Tai Chi Instructor | HeartMath Trainer/Coach
Blue Heron Center, Inc.
The practice of Qigong has had a profound impact on my life, developing my own health, strength and resilience, and giving me tools that I can use to help others as well. The awareness of energy cultivated through qigong has also given me a richer appreciation of nature and a greater understanding of my place in the world and how to find harmony with the flow of life.
John Munro
Qigong Teacher
Long White Cloud Qigong
Qigong’s impact transcends physical benefits. Through Radiant Lotus Qigong, I was introduced to the phrase “Stable Lead Energy”. In this visualization of connecting to earth and heavens, I imagine my heart strong, confident and filled with “neutral compassion”. Overtime, this practice has brought me to place where I can guide others and mange difficult situations without loosing my center. Stress does not linger in my body. I am a happier person and enjoy life, whatever it brings.
Mary Beck
Qigong Teacher | Yoga Teacher | Reiki Master
⬅ Picture of Mary practicing Tree Gong in her garden
↑ Picture of Mary practicing Tree Gong in her garden
I have been practicing qigong since 2011. In 2015, due to the leg weakening effect of a medication I had been taking for years, I experienced a compression fracture of the head of the tibia bone (at the knee) of my left leg. The pain was indescribable. I was eventually fitted with a knee brace that allowed me to walk. I thought I would be wearing that brace for the rest of my days.After a while I decided to rehabilitate my self with Master Jiao Guorui’s Five Animal Frolic form. The 25 movements of the form are all walking techniques. I gradually strengthen my left leg till I could do the movements without the brace. I have been walking normally without a since 2017. I am very grateful for my practice of qigong. 
Kevin Siddons
Gentle Qigong for Health
Discovering Qigong was like finding a key to a hidden door within myself. Suffering from hip bursitis and chronic pain, I found healing and inner peace through Spring Forest Qigong. It not only alleviated my pain but brought a profound sense of peace, shifting my life from constant stress to gratitude and joy. Now, as a dedicated practitioner, I've guided thousands to enrich their lives with this powerful self-healing practice.
Sue Crites MSc, NCP
Qigong Instructor | Healer
Sue Crites Holistic Healing & Qigong

How Can I Learn More About Qigong?

Cultivating Wellness: Your Journey with the National Qigong association

Are you curious about the ancient art of qigong and eager to explore its myriad benefits? Look no further than the National Qigong Association – your gateway to a world of knowledge and well-being. Our organization is dedicated to helping individuals like you delve deeper into the enriching practice of qigong. By becoming a member, you gain access to an extensive array of resources, including online materials, enlightening newsletters, and expert advice, all designed to enhance your understanding of qigong.

Engage with our vibrant online community, where you can learn from fellow enthusiasts and practitioners. Immerse yourself in our Qigong conferences and workshops, including our highly anticipated Annual Conference, led by renowned experts, providing invaluable insights and techniques. Plus, enjoy our member-exclusive events where we come together to practice qigong, fostering a sense of unity and shared energy. Our free podcast, Qi Talks, further opens the doors to the world of qigong for both members and the wider audience. Join us today, and let the National Qigong Association be your trusted guide on your qigong journey, empowering you to achieve holistic well-being and a profound connection with your inner self.