Qigong (pronounced ‘chee gung’) is a form of health exercise originating in China which combines mind, body and breathing to promote health and longevity. Qigong is similar to tai chi, except there are not such long sequences of movements to learn and it isn’t a martial art (which tai chi is, to some people’s surprise).
Getting the physical structure right is an important first step in qigong practice. This involves not only standing and moving correctly, but also gently stretching and conditioning the body to open the joints and relax the muscles.
Through proper structure, breathing and intention we begin to tune into the body’s energy system. Often this is initially experienced as heat, then vibration or movement. By using different postures and movements, we can direct energy flow to different organs or areas of the body, according to what we need.
Where many people struggle to settle the mind in meditation, the movements of qigong are interesting enough to help the beginner maintain concentration. However, the movements are simple and repetitive enough that the practice can be deeply meditative. Sometimes we wish to use a relaxed awareness – listening to what is going on in the body. Other times we need to use a stronger focused intention in order to create change. Qigong develops both of these skills.
Classes are run in 5-7 week terms depending on the material covered. For most classes you will need to pay up front for the term. This helps you commit to coming regularly, makes the classes cheaper and means one group can work through the term together without new students joining and needing to catch up.
If you are waiting for a new term to start, or want some extra material to review, you might want to consider this online introductory course, which covers quite a bit of theory and foundation material.