At any given time around the world, literally, thousands of people are performing Qigong – "life energy cultivation."

The practice of what would become known as Qigong began in China over 4,000 years ago, although it was not until the early 1940s that all the differing "systems" that had evolved over the centuries were codified into one coherent whole under the official name of Qigong.

What is Qigong?

Qi, or chi, is the Chinese term for "life energy." Using the different practices that make up the "gong" of Qigong, individuals send this life energy throughout their bodies, helping them to recover from illness or to maintain their health.

The "practices" are:

Dynamic. This practice consists of performing any one of several dozen specific sets of movements, or "forms," while concentrating on breathing and mental awareness. These movements improve balance, flexibility, and strength.

Qigong is similar to Tai Chi in this regard.

Static. This practice consists of assuming a single posture, or a series of postures, for an extended length of time. One of the most well-known healing forms in this practice is called Eight Pieces of Brocade or Eight Silk Weaving (Baduanjin qigong) because the postures and the fluidity in transitioning from one to another are often described as being "smooth as silk."

Meditative. Meditation and the power of the mind are essential in qigong, and practitioners who are mobility impaired will benefit from this practice.

Qigong for Health

Many Qigong practitioners use Qigong to help heal their bodies. According to traditional Chinese medicine, there are several energy pathways, or meridians, throughout the body, through which one's qi can flow. Each of these meridians has a name, which refers to that part of the body through which it flows, such as the "Taiyin Lung Channel of Hand" or the "Jueyin Liver Channel of Foot."

Through meditation, or by practicing one of the many forms of Qigong while maintaining mental awareness, a practitioner sends his or her qi throughout the body along these meridians (also called channels) which in turn transmits health-giving power to the bones, joints, and muscles.

Stress relief

In today's hectic world, stress is ever-present.

Mental stress translates into physical stress which affects the whole body resulting in stiff muscles, stomach aches, and eventually ulcers. People under stress also find it difficult to sleep – which results in over-tiredness and poor decision-making ability.

By embracing meditation and the health-giving benefits of Qigong, stress can be eliminated from the body, which in turn delivers good physical and mental health.

The Spirituality of Qigong

Qigong emphasizes spirituality – self-discovery and self-actualization. Meditation opens up a whole new world – the world of the mind. Meditation and physical activity together bring about tremendous benefits.

Qigong Today

Today, Qigong is practiced around the world. Although Qigong can be practiced in the privacy of your own home, it is best to find a Qigong teacher or therapist who can help you to learn the techniques of this health-giving art form properly.

About: Carole Hambleton-Moser strategically built and managed Credit Suisse in Cape Town for almost ten years. Having left the corporate world now, she has merged her enthusiasm for business with her love of philanthropy and now spends time giving back to the community around her. In her free time, Carole Hambleton-Moser enjoys hikes with her dogs and friends, and yoga and QiGong to help focus inward and take time for meditative reflection.