Qigong practice has been around for around 5,000 years. In this blog let’s learn more about this powerful ancient practice.
About Qigong Practice
Definition of Qigong
Qigong is an ancient healing practice of movement, breathing techniques, and meditation that helps cultivate energy or qi. Qigong translates to “working on energy”. Qi means “energy”, and Gong means ” to work on”. It has been used for thousands of years, originating from ancient China to help one find health, vitality, strength, and inner power. It is known in China as the science of human potential and development.
History of Qigong
There are 5 Periods of Qigong
- 1st Period: Lao Zi, Yi Jing, Medical Qigong
- 2nd Period: Religious Qigong
- 3rd Period: Martial Qigong
- 4th Period: Qigong Mixes Internationally
- 5th Period: Post Communist Revolution Qigong
1st Period: Lao Zi, Yi Jing, Medical Qigong
The first actual known recording of qigong was found around 5,000 years ago. It was a Neolithic vessel that had a priest shaman illustrated doing a posture in meditative practice and dynamic exercise of early qigong. Furthermore, during this time Buddhism And Daoist Qigong are sharing their knowledge and influencing each other hence, they mix practice.
1122 B.C. – Yi Jing (I-Ching) Period of Qigong
The Yi Jing is the first book that addresses the concept of qi. This is the fundamental and foundational book of Daoism, however, there is little known about this book.
1122 – 934 B.C. – Dao De Jing by Lao Zi (Lao Tzu)
Lao Zi is a known Chinese philosopher and writer who is the teacher of Confucius. The Dao De Jing is the book where Lao Zi discusses knowledge regarding qigong. Additionally, Dao De Jing means “The way of virtue” or “The classic way of virtue”. This book also talks about the way of the Tao. Furthermore, it talks about aligning oneself with the natural way of the universe to live a happier and healthier life. Conversely, during that time people were not listening to him and were not open to this idea.
300 B.C. – Zhuangzi by Zhuang Zou
Zhuang Zou is a Chinese Philosopher who wrote the Zhuangzi. Dao De Jing focuses on the Tao as the primordial origin of all existence, whereas, Zhuangzi talks about ideal theories of human existence.
140 – 208 B.C. – Birth of Medical Qigong
During this time Medical Qigong was born. Hua Tuo is the Godfather of Medical Qigong. Notably, he was the top medical physician during that time, particularly, catering to the emperor himself. Hua Tuo is the creator of the first Medical Qigong form which is the 5 Animal Qigong. Because of this, patients began to heal by doing more dynamic exercises rather than static practices. The 5 Animal Qigong uses the motions of various animals and imitates them. Hua Tuo recommended 5 Animal Qigong for rehabilitation, recovery, and most importantly for prevention of illnesses, pain, and diseases. There are no official records of Hua Tuo‘s 5 Animal Qigong, this form was only passed down to his disciples. Today, the 5 Animal Qigong is one of the standard forms and preserved forms of qigong by the Chinese Government.
206 B.C. – 220 B.C. – Daoyin
The Dao Yin is a silk scroll with 44 postures of human drawings. Moreover, this is another notable text that is about qigong. Under each posture is either a name of an animal, also, the name of the disease the posture can prevent or cure is written.
186 B.C. Yin Shu
The Yin Shu has over 100 exercises. Additionally, this is also called the ” stretch book”. Also, this book is only accessible to nobles. Furthermore, it includes the healing sounds and exercises which adapt to seasons and prescription to specific body aches and pains.
2nd Period: Religious Qigong
206 B.C. – 502 A.D. – Zhang Dao-Ling (Dao Jiao)
During this time Zhang Dao-Ling created Dao Jiao by combining traditional Daoist principles with Buddhism and also, Tibetan practices. Moreover, the Dao Jiao is highly secretive, has a hierarchy, and they perform ceremonies. Also, they were formed around the beginning of the Christian Era.
3rd Period: Martial Qigong
502 – 1911 A.D.
During this time priests were taught how to improve health. Also, the priest was taught to improve their physical bodies from weak to strong.
960 – 1279 A.D. – Zhang San Feng (Tai Ji)
Zhang San Feng created Tai Ji and other internal arts that follow the principles of Nei Dan (Internal Elixir) Qigong training. Tai Ji is a set of movements that can be done as a whole movement together. Furthermore, the focus of Tai Ji is to harmonize the mind and movement as one.
1127 – 1279 A.D. – Marshal Yue Fei (Baduanjin / 8 Pieces of Brocade)
Marshal Yue Fei is an army general who created the Baduanjin or 8 Pieces of Brocade. Additionally, this qigong practice was created specifically for the soldiers of warfare to help them heal. Along with that, this is also one of the standard forms of qigong and the most popularized medical qigong today.
1644 – 1911 A.D. – Dong Hai Quan (Baguazhang)
Dong Hai Quan is the emperor’s tea servant. He brought the Baguazhang to the public for the first time. He was not an ordinary tea servant. Dong Hai Quan studied in the Wudang Mountains and lived in a Daoist temple with the monks who did Circle walking practices. When Dong Hai Quan beat the emperor’s guards he became the emperor’s top bodyguard. Later on, he taught this qigong practice to the emperor himself to help him heal himself.
4th Period: Qigong Mixes Internationally
Qigong mixes with practices from Japan, India, and other countries.
5th Period: Post-Cultural Revolution
1949 A.D. – Qigong was dispirited / Birth of Modern Qigong
Mao Zedong was the president of China at that time. He was a communist who overthrew the elites/Nationalists led by Chiang Kay-Shek. He believed that to win against the elites he needs to eliminate everything that relates to culture. Mao Ze Dong believed he needs to overthrow the elites in power, and that the Chinese were too soft, and needs to be stronger to avoid invasion. He burned all literature, temples, tea plantation, and others that relate to cultural origins. Furthermore, this was ordered by Mao Ze Dong because he believed that these are the origin of the elite’s power, strategy, and control, as ancient cultural knowledge was only accessible to the elites.
This cultural revolution led to qigong being dispirited and any cultural connection was removed. This spawned the birth of Modern Qigong where the focus becomes less on the spirit and more on the mind-body-breath. Also, Modern qigong was then made for the masses as a cheap medicine for the poor.
Qigong is regulated and CCP controls all qigong publications. However, even though qigong is highly moderated, Medical qigong is also used in several hospitals in China due to massive health problems and rising health care costs.
What Is the Goal of Qigong Practice?
Qigong aims to cultivate energy by doing practices that naturally align ourselves with the natural flow of nature.
Types of Movements in Qigong
There are different types of movement in qigong. Some movements are dynamic and strong, conversely, some are subtle to almost no movement at all. Dynamic movements have sets of movements that were developed to release old energy or toxins in the body, and furthermore, bring in fresh Qi. Some qigong movements are done while holding poses for minutes, on the other hand, some last up to hours for advanced practitioners.
There are different benefits for all qigong movements and it will be beneficial to try it all at a certain combination, to reach optimum results.
Benefits of Qigong Practice
There are many benefits of doing qigong practice, some of them include improvement in breathing, improvement of the health of internal organs, and powerful internal and external body structure. All of this allows us to function better in our everyday tasks, and reach our fullest potential.
Doing qigong practice is one of the best practices you can add to your daily routine to balance your everyday lifestyle. It is good for all levels and will benefit you optimally. You can customize your qigong practice depending on what your body needs.
Qigong has gone through so many evolution and transformations throughout thousands of years. Also, from ancient times until modern times, qigong has always been an optimal practice that can give maximum benefits to the person who practices it. In addition, aligning with nature through movement, breathing techniques, and meditation is a very valuable practice you can add to your daily life.
Want to learn more about Qigong theory and history? Check out our Essential Theory Course for Qigong Practitioners and Teachers.
Watch a free video on Qigong Practice to increase your energy and mood.