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Understanding Qi

Understanding Qi

When developing awareness of our body in correlation to Qi, it is good to first have a general understanding of what Qi is and how the qualities of Qi impact our body. From an Eastern point of view, Qi is contained throughout everything including our body, so becoming fully aware of Qi includes becoming aware of our body and being.

Cultivation of Qi within the body is common among many Eastern practices which use similar descriptions regarding the nature of Qi.

The Taoist tradition, originating from China, typically illustrates Qi as a “life force”, or “cosmic energy” throughout the Universe. In addition to China, other cultures share this understanding of Qi under different names, such as; “Gi” in Korea, “Ki” in Japan, and “Prana” in India. Many Asian cultures therefore maintain a collective concept of Qi as being an “energy” contained within all and interrelating with everything.

Qi is the major focus of Qigong practices. Qigong simply refers to the practice of cultivating Qi. In Qigong practice, gathering and moving Qi is essential for health and well being. It is a fundamental practice of Qigong to become aware of the various qualities of Qi. Qi can blend with different elements of nature and take on different qualities, and consequently, have different effects upon our body and being. We might consider this blending of Qi to be intrinsic Qi combined with fields of nature, generating specific qualities of Qi. The electromagnetic energy and mass of the entire Earth blended with Qi creates a cosmic energy field with a specific quality of Qi. The air, sun, moon, celestial bodies, and the entire firmament combined with innate Qi, also produce a specific quality of Qi. Here we have two primary forces which Taoists call “Earth Qi” and “Heaven Qi”.

Earth Qi (Di Qi) and Heaven Qi (Tien Qi)

In Qigong practice, we work with moving and blending Earth Qi (Di Qi) and Heaven Qi (Tien Qi). These qualities of Qi may correspond with elements of nature and matter; however, Earth Qi and Heaven Qi are not considered entirely synonymous with any scientific definitions of matter or energy. This being said, Qi is a measurable field that contains properties of matter and energy that carry information. From this we might assume that Earth Qi and Heaven Qi contain different qualities of matter, energy, and information. This is why Earth Qi and Heaven Qi have different effects on the body and mind, as these two fields of energy carry different information.

Earth Qi (Di Qi)

  • Earth Qi is drawn upward and gathered from the Earth, water, trees plants, mountains, etc.
  • Earth Qi is a blending of Qi and the energy field of the Earth. Being that it is more of form and contraction, it is a Yin* force.
  • Earth Qi is typically drawn into the body from the Earth through the feet and legs, the perineum, the skin, and through the breath.
  • Earth Qi nourishes the Yin* channels of the body.

Heaven Qi (Tien Qi)

  • Heaven Qi is drawn downward from celestial bodies, the sun, the moon, stars, space, wind or air, and even lightning.
  • Heaven Qi is a blending of Qi and the energy field of the firmament. Being that it is more of formlessness and expansion, it is a Yang* force.
  • Heaven Qi is typically drawn into the body through the top of head, the palms and arms, the skin, and through the breath.
  • Heaven Qi nourishes the Yang* channels.

*Yin: contracting, cooling, feminine, internal, etc.
*Yang: expanding, warming, masculine, external, etc.

Understanding Yin Yang

What Is Yin Yang?

You may not know that the Yin Yang symbol we see everywhere is the symbol for Tai Chi or Taiji. It is not the martial arts Tai Chi, but it is called ‘Tai Chi’ and this symbol represents perfect balance. Yin and Yang are two polarized forces not to be confused with good and evil. Neither force is considered superior or inferior to the other. Yin and Yang are two forces within all and balancing these two forces is a key objective in Tai Chi and Qigong practice and in Chinese medicine. Yin typically represents; internal, cooling, retracted, feminine, etc. and Yang typically represents external, warming, expanding, masculine, etc. So a person who has too much Yin qualities will have an imbalance and a person with too much Yang qualities will have also have an imbalance. If you look at life, we all already understand this to some extent but from a different language. Someone who overworks, or talks excessively, thinks excessively, who is outward, pushing, and expanding is likely imbalanced toward Yang. It does not mean that they express negative qualities, only that it may be an imbalance in the mind and body. By the same token, someone who is overly reserved, shy, excessively internal, someone who does not initiate, may be considered to be imbalanced toward Yin. Again, this may be a wonderful person, however there is still an imbalance. Yin and Yang manifestations could be expressed in a multitude of character, physical and mental attributes of person, above is only one example. No one is perfectly balanced with Yin and Yang, so balance is constant evolution. The same applies to everything else, not just the human being, but all matter, situations, and more. In life there are infinite combinations of Yin and Yang expressed within everything. From this perspective, life is about balance, and as long as we exist, there are lessons and experiences we go through to learn and develop greater balance of Yin and Yang in our life.

Where Does Yin & Yang Come From?

Tai Chi, the state of opposites or Yin Yang, came into form from Wuji. Wuji is a formless state that existed before Tai Chi (Yin Yang). It may also be considered the state of Oneness. In other terms, Wu Chi has been stated to mean; “What there was before the Universe came into being”.

Tai Chi is what lies within shapes and features; Wuji is what lies beyond shapes and features (form). If Tai Chi sprang from Wuji, we can conclude that Tai Chi is a blend of Wuji (Formlessness), and a blend of Form. Together Wuji and Form make Tai Chi. Also referred to as Yin Yang.

My personal understanding of this concept is that Wuji contains all Yin and Yang in the un-manifest, formless void of Oneness. In Wuji, separateness of the Yin and Yang forces is nonexistent, because it is a state void of polarity and even void of various shades of diversity. In this sense, there is un-manifest Yin and Yang yet there is no Yin and Yang existing in Wuji.

When Wuji became Tai Chi, Oneness in a sense split into “Two-ness”, Yin and Yang. From these two polarities of Yin and Yang, there sprang an infinite diversity of combinations of Yin and Yang forms. Each combination of Yin and Yang represented a unique aspect of the Wuji state.

The Bagua Represents The Infinite Yin and Yang Combinations:

My best understanding of how Yin and Yang represents all form and all existence is through the Bagua (image above). In the Bagua, there are eight primary aspects of Yin and Yang combinations displayed to represent the universe. The number 8 representing infinity which is unending is also displayed in the Bagua representing an infinite amount of forms. In these eight primary combinations of Yin and Yang, all qualities exist as displayed in each trigram.

When the Chinese refer to a splitting off into ‘ten thousand things’, I understand this phrase to imply an infinite number of variations that the eight trigrams can divide into. Thus from each of the 8 possible primary combinations of Yin Yang trigrams, there exist infinite combinations of Yin and Yang fractalized within each trigram stemming from each primary combination.

For Example:

  • Within the calendar year of the Bagua, the eight trigram combinations have eight trigrams contained within each of them to make eight hexagrams.
  • Not displayed in the Bagua design, within each hexagram there also exists a division of eight more trigram combinations and also eight more hexagram combinations.
  • Within each one of those eight sub-trigrams and eight sub-hexagram combinations, these eight combinations continue within eight combinations infinitely, with infinite microcosms of Yin and Yang within each combination of Yin and Yang. Strangely, this implies the finite is also the Infinite, yet it is still not Wuji because it is still not Oneness.
  • This example was just a representation of the calendar year. However, this same analogy of infinite microcosms of Yin and Yang could also be considered to exist within EVERYTHING outside of Wuji. Thus the infinite combinations of Yin and Yang can be applied throughout all aspects of creation.
  • Further, by the same token, perhaps we can consider this same concept of infinite combinations of Yin and Yang to be applied to the macrocosm as well. Here Yin and Yang could exist in infinite combinations of collective combinations; of matter, of planets, of worlds, of celestial bodies, of universes, of dimensions, etc.

Thus the Bagua could be said to be a design of infinity, which represents the infinite combinations of Yin and Yang.

Perhaps it may also be stated that the Bagua represents the infinite diversity that sprang from Wuji. And the Bagua symbol can also be a method for understanding the transformation of Wuji to Tai Chi.

When it was finally brought to my understanding of how the Bagua trigrams and hexagrams were read, I suddenly realized that the Bagua represented the infinite creations of Yin and Yang in the sense as described above. I then began with more clarity to view and understand everything in existence in terms of Yin and Yang, from Tai Chi and Qigong including all other aspects of life. Often I have reflected that the purpose of life is Balance. Balancing the multiple combinations of Yin and Yang seems to be the purpose of life. My understanding is that through that balance, we become more like Wuji; when the balance of Yin and Yang in all aspects of our life comes into balance.

The lack of balance of Yin and Yang is the root of suffering, illness, discontent, and unhappiness. Tai Chi and Qigong help move us toward a state of balance of Yin and Yang which is closer to the state of Wuji. Also an emphasis in Tai Chi and Qigong is in effortless action, or ‘Wu Wei’, which is also the way of return to the state of Wuji, as Wuji represents an effortless state. Ironically, it takes discipline to act and move effortlessly, yet it is only the discipline of unlearning to return to our natural and effortless form that is taught in Tai Chi and Qigong practice.

In Tai Chi and Qigong practice, we focus on the balance of the Yin and Yang forces to bring the harmonious unison of these forces so we may become more like our original Wuji state.

You might say we are aligning our frequency to the wavelength of frequencies that are resonating with balanced Yin and Yang forces, which is more like Wuji. As we can resonate in tune with frequencies of balanced Yin and Yang, we can begin to return to Wuji.

Being that Wuji is formless and free of separation and our frequency is that of form and polarity; we use tools to recognize Wuji, our original self. The Art of Cultivation is the tool Qigong uses to recognize Wuji.

Return To Wuji – “Shen Ren” (Spirit Person):

  1. First we use the body to recognize the Qi. The art of cultivation is to use the body to recognize the Qi.
  2. We then recognize that Qi permeates all form.
  3. We then use the Qi to recognize Shen, or the Spirit.
  4. We then use Shen to recognize Wuji.

This is known as transformation of Jing to Qi to become Shen (Spirit) Ren (Man) (Shen Ren: return to Wuji).

Qi is thus a bridge for Ren (Man) to identify with Shen (Spirit). Qi may then be considered a force penetrating and interconnecting throughout Yin and Yang and thus permeating all of creation. If so, with the intent of our mind learning to recognize Qi in all, we can then begin to feel the Qi interconnected with our Shen and develop a greater bridge to our Shen.

Theory Of Shen and Wuji & Yin Yang

How does Shen configure into this concept of Yin and Yang and Wuji?

My best understanding of this question is that Shen is the infinite multitudes of unique aspects of Wuji in non-embodied form. Shen could thus be considered the “Higher Self” or the “Soul” or the Spirit unique to each form.

Based on the Bagua concept illustrated above; in the entire Ying Yang spectrum, everything in creation exists with some balance and combination of Yin and Yang. Since Shen is also a manifestation from Wuji, it too would have some combination of Yin and Yang.

Being that Shen is always represented as a Yang force in Taoist belief, Shen may then be represented as a Yin Yang symbol that is primarily white, or that of formlessness. Still, some minute portion of black or form would exist in Shen because nothing is pure Yang or pure Yin for that matter. Thus Shen would have some combination of Yin and Yang, however its shade being primarily white. These combinations of Yin and Yang that exist would be infinite and completely unique even though each Shen would be primarily Yang in its composition. Using the Bagua concept, each Shen could be considered a mathematical composition of entirely unique Ying and Yang combinations.

Shen could be considered an infinitesimal split from Wuji if we consider a pure force to represent Oneness. Being that Shen is not 100% Yang and thus not a 100% pure force, it has some degree of form, considering Yin represents form. With this concept, an infinitesimal separation of pure Oneness still remains within each given Shen.

Taking the concept of Yin Yang and Newton’s 3rd law for that matter, every force would have an equal and opposite force. With this understanding, creation would seek to balance the spectrum of Yin and Yang equally. So each Shen would manifest the un-manifest Yin into existence to experience its polarity. Shen would seek to find balance of Yin and Yang through form. Shen could also manifest the variations of form that are primarily Yang in existence, yet with infinite shades of Yin and Yang across the spectrum. This provides Shen with the full experience of all creation and all of Yin and Yang. Because each Shen would come into beingness with some unique and minute shade of Yin, it would be unique in its experience and each experience of form that Shen manifests would be unique in its evolution. Shen would then gain experience of the balance of the entire Yin and Yang.

With this concept, we may perceive Shen existing multi-dimensionally in a broad spectrum of Yin Yang existence.

Part of the Yin manifestation or experience of Shen may take the form of Ren (Human) with existence on earth. As Ren progresses and gains experience of Yin and Yang balance, its soul or Shen gains this experience and it too balances toward perfection of Yin and Yang. From our linear perspective, our Ren (Human) experience may also causes us to regress in our balancing of the Yin Yang force taking us away from our Shen’s purpose (Li) of balancing the Yin and Yang aspect of itself. We can become imbalanced toward the direction that our free will takes us, which could cause imbalances in either Yin or Yang development. The Shen then manifests additional forms or lifetimes to bring balance to the imbalance that has occurred.

Ren (Human), is the combination of Yin and Yang force; thus we cannot exclude the existence of our Yang Shen or Earth (Yin) in our experience. In the human form we may draw toward either polarity, however we are seeking balance of the Heaven and Earth forces. Since our Shen is our unique spirit aspect of ourselves, recognizing our Shen becomes extremely important in understanding our purpose (Li). Our Shen carries our purpose (Li) of our existence. Ironically, when we are tuned into our Shen, we also understand how to gain balance with the Yin force, because our Shen drew us toward this experience with Yin. My understanding is that we bring our unique Shen into our experience on earth, learning to balance our Shen in equal harmony with earth. Because Shen is like Wuji and yet not Wuji and because it is our unique aspect of Wuji directly linked to each one of us, we become closer to Wuji consciousness by first recognizing our own Shen or soul. Shen could thus be considered a very personal connection or conduit to Wuji since our own Shen is unique to our own being.

When we have perceived this concept of Shen and Yin and Yang as infinite aspects of Wuji, then we may understand that only all of creation combined together makes up the full and complete Yin and Yang balance. Yet, none of creation individually makes up a perfect Yin Yang balance. With this understanding, growth toward Wuji is infinite because the degrees of balancing Yin and Yang are infinite. Without discouragement, the pure state of Wuji is never experienced however near to Wuji that form maybe, unless Wuji were to withdraw Yin and Yang back to Oneness. Being that all is Wuji anyhow, ‘We’ (Wuji) exist in multiple forms. ‘We’ (Wuji), have chosen to understand separateness and non-oneness in its infinite forms and to experience the return toward Wuji. With this concept, absolute perfect balance of Yin and Yang never exists except as the entire collective of all existence. Absolute perfect balance of Yin and Yang would in fact be Wuji yet the perfect Yin Yang also would not be Wuji because polarity does not exist in Wuji. In a sense, there is no Wuji to reach yet all is Wuji and to reiterate; all creation together represents the absolute perfect Yin Yang, and it is all Wuji.

Since we are all One, as any part of the One changes, we all change because the full spectrum of balance adjusts the entire Yin Yang of the universe maintaining that balance accordingly. Thus all aspects of the Ying and Yang force are ever changing.


In conclusion of all expressed in this essay, I have come to have a clearer understanding of the entire universe and how Taoist concepts fit into this portrait.

I have understood that Wuji splitting into Yin Yang makes perfect sense. To consider that the entire universe is all Wuji with an infinite diversity of Yin and Yang combinations clarifies the order and structure of Infinity.

Thinking of the entire creation as a whole, making up an absolutely perfectly balanced Yin Yang, brings understanding of this symbol to represent profound significance along with the basic understanding of the Bagua and the trigrams representing all combinations of existence.

Through basic understanding of the Bagua, came the intellectual realization that everything in existence contains all of the eight trigrams and sub-trigrams combined as an infinite multitude of codes for each and every form. This may be termed the ‘energy signature’ of each form.

When I ask myself how Shen fits into the picture, I could only comprehend that Shen or the soul is a sliver of differentiation from Wuji; however within that small sliver exists infinite souls (Shen).

Within that sliver of non perfection, there exists an infinite combination of trigrams and hexagrams. Each unique combination makes up each soul (Shen). Each soul is very much like Wuji’s state of perfection yet not of pure Wuji. Shen being primarily Yang, seeks to gain balance of Yin and Yang through multitudes of forms. Our human form in turn, seeks to gain balance of Yin and Yang in alignment with Shen’s purpose.

With this understanding, we may understand that the purpose of creation is to arrive toward that perfect balance of Yin and Yang.

With this understanding and this purpose, we may seek to practice Tai Chi or Qigong to achieve that balance.

Through these practices, we can break through conditional thinking that has brought imbalances. These practices are designed to bring balance to the Yin and Yang forces within us. Developing awareness and becoming more like the Wuji force within us, we act less from the conditioned mind.

The first step in developing Wuji consciousness is to recognize the Qi within ourselves and in all form and use that Qi to recognize the Shen. The Qi permeates both Earth and Heaven and man, so the Qi is the connective link for recognizing Shen (Spirit). Shen could be considered like a “Little Wuji” specific to each being so that each being can connect to Wuji through their Shen, their personal aspect of Wuji.

Comparison Of Qigong And Yoga

Comparison Of Yoga and Qigong

Although Yoga and Qigong have common goals, there are fundamental differences. In Yoga and Qigong, the body and mind are disciplined where channels and meridians can be opened and cleared to bring about the potential for higher consciousness. Both involve concentration, breath, and often physical movement. An enlightened perspective does not place one practice as superior to another, yet clearly, each system of spiritual practice provides a different focus and orientation.

The essential difference in Qigong practice from other Yogic practices is the focused cultivation and circulation of Qi and the specific training that occurs in directing Qi with the mind along the meridians. Although Qi (Chinese Term For Life Force) and Prana (Yogic Term For Life Force) may be equated as similar terms, Prana is typically not taught to be stored and also consciously directed throughout the body and meridians in most Yogic practices. Granted, many Yogic practices would likely overlap in similarity with Qigong practices in terms of concentration at key energy channels and circulation of energy or Qi, yet a given Yogic system is not entirely dedicated to the same purpose as Qigong.

With Qigong, there is a conscious focus on the meridians of the body and moving Qi along these meridians and touching upon key meridian points. Additionally there is a conscious cultivation of drawing in Qi from the “Earth” (Yin) & “Heaven” (Yang) and consciously moving and balancing this pair of opposite forces throughout the body and mind.

Also unique to Qigong practices is the science of drawing Qi from the forces of nature into our body for health and spiritual growth; such as drawing Qi from; the ground, the trees, the wind, the mountains, the sun, etc. After Qi is gathered, a strong emphasis in Qigong is in storing the gathered Qi in the lower Dan Tien (area below the navel) to develop a strong life force. A reservoir of Qi is thus built up through continual Qigong practice and it is stored in this area below the navel, which is not typically found in Yogic practice. Although the Yogic “Hara” point is a comparable location to the Dan Tien, again the focus and storing of Qi at this point is primary to Qigong practice.

In Qigong practices, Qi that is stored in the lower Dan Tien can then be circulated throughout the body or directed where the body requires it. This includes drawing Qi into the bones and marrow, the skin, the internal organs, the central channel and meridians, energy centers, and all other areas of the body. These techniques of drawing in Qi and directing Qi throughout the body are common practices in Qigong. Again, this ability occurs through the training of directing the mind to lead the Qi and as stated, this technology is distinctive to the practice of Qigong. Ultimately, through the cultivation of Qi, one can learn to consciously direct Qi toward the expansion of their Spirit and experience an awakening in higher consciousness.

Why choose Qigong practice? Though ultimate results reflect similar objectives with Yogic practices, practitioners of Qigong have found the ability to consciously draw in and direct Qi at anytime to be highly empowering. Having the capacity to apply Qigong technology throughout the day or night, standing or sitting, where you can heal and elevate the self and/or others is a unique talent that Qigong can offer. Through a refined training of Qigong, one can develop a strong relationship with their Qi field where they can become aware of and clear blockages within themselves consciously. Through Qigong practice, a person can thus learn to consciously clear their energy channels and to consciously open their meridians and meridian points and raise their consciousness through their skill in guiding the flow of Qi at will!

Neigong & Interoception

Neigong & Interoception

My research regarding Neigong defines this practice as internal cultivation, or as the practice of developing internal awareness. Neigong is not a specific practice in itself, but rather an aspect of Qigong and Tai Chi since both practices utilize internal cultivation. Typically Taoist sitting breathing techniques and sitting meditation practices denote and equivalent to Neigong however, Neigong practice also occurs in movement practices of Qigong and Tai Chi since internal awareness is applied along with the movement. Internal awareness may also extend beyond the physical body as some Qigong practices require sensing awareness beyond the physical form. Primarily though, Neigong refers to internal awareness practices within the physical body. In western language, this could be similar to Interoception since the two concepts of Interoception and Neigong significantly overlap in their meaning though they have differences.

What Is Interoception?

An article by Kelley Mahler defines Interoception as the “Eighth Sensory System”.

Kelley Mahler states that we are able to feel sensations within the body using our eighth sensory system or Interoception. Interoception refers to receptors located throughout the inside or our body, in our organs, muscles, skin, bones and so forth. These receptors gather information from the inside of our body and send it to brain.

So even though we can sense simple things within our body like; pain, hunger, heart rate, heat, etc, most of have not developed a highly keen sensory awareness of our body. In Neigong tradition, this would mean the skill of sensing the following but not limited to;

  1. Sensing internal organs, brain, eyes, etc.
  2. Sensing the sensation of the breath entering the nose, the throat, the lungs & the bronchials
  3. Sensing the tissue under the epidermis
  4. Sensing the energy gates
  5. Sensing meridians
  6. Sensing qi movement and blood flow
  7. Sensing our bones & marrow
  8. Guiding and directing Qi

These are just a handful of Neigong examples and much more exist. Neigong is a much more expanded concept of Interoception since sensing Qi, sensing energy gates, and sensing bodily meridians expand beyond only sensing the body itself.

We might consider Interoception as a beginning step in Qigong and Tai Chi and Neigong practice is what Interoception evolves into. Neigong thus remains a highly significant part of Qigong and Tai Chi practices because developing internal awareness and affecting change with that awareness is a key concept in such practices.

What Make Neigong So Important?

So even though the Qigong and Tai Chi movements remain highly significant, the balance of, or the Yin and Yang of these practices, can be considered the combination of Neigong blended with the physical part of the practice. With a developed sense of internal awareness, we not only can sense our internal body, but we can also positively impact our body. With Neigong practice our intention alone can positively alter the body. This alteration could refer to clearing blocks at acupuncture points, clearing meridians, cooling or heating the body, energizing the body, sending Qi to bodily tissue, etc. The effects of Qigong and Tai Chi are therefore not attributed to only the physical exercises, but they also come from the intention of the mind. Many may argue that most Qigong and Tai Chi benefits comes from the internal awareness (Neigong) applied within these practices.

The Mind Impacts The Body

It’s been proven that just thinking causes your brain to release neurotransmitters, chemical messengers that allow it to communicate with parts of itself and your nervous system.

Studies also have also demonstrated how thoughts program our cells.

Using this same understanding with Neigong practice, we can know that where we place our mental intention, there we can invoke change. In Taoist tradition, the mind leads the Qi. Just as the mind is thought to be the one affecting the physical body, the Qi force is what travels as the vehicle for implementing change in the body. So every movement performed with conscious intention of inner awareness, provides and added benefit of Qi flow. Although a particular exercise may automatically invoke the flow of Qi to a given part of the body or meridian, that same exercise performed with intention becomes amplified in its benefit with mental intention. This is because the mind is consciously leading the Qi and this conscious awareness is an aspect of Neigong.

The goal of Neigong is to develop greater awareness within and without our body to where we can positively direct and affect our being, our environments, and others around us.

History of Qigong & Tai Chi

History Of Qigong & Tai Chi

Qigong has been widely known to exist from 4,000 to 5,000 years ago, yet evidence suggests Qigong has much older origins.

Archaeological objects suggest that the earliest evidence of Qigong practice is from the discovery of the Neolithic vessel found in the early 1980’s in Northwest China. The pottery is identified as a Shamanic vessel. The image on it is nearly 7000 years old. Archaeologists suggest it represents a priest-shaman individual practicing Qigong.

The image of the body posture on the pottery is identical to the posture of the essential (Dantien) Qigong practice. Qigong historians contend that the priest-shamans were the earliest Qigong masters.

The Yellow Emperor (2696–2598 B.C.)

According to the traditional Chinese medical community, the origin of Qigong is commonly attributed to the legendary Yellow Emperor. The Yellow Emperor is credited with having invented Chinese medicine and various religious practices, including worship of the sun, moon, and five planets.

Emperor Yao (2356-2255 B.C.)

Various records indicate that Qigong was likely practiced over 4300 years ago. During this time period, a legendary figure named Peng Zu was known as a Qigong practitioner. Peng Zu supposedly lived approximately 800 years spanning numerous Chinese dynasties including the reign of emperor Yao. Peng Zu is viewed by many as one of the pioneers of Qigong.

Also during the time of the Yao Dynasty, some documentation indicates that in that time, people used to dance to strengthen their body and also to regulate breathing, energy (Qi), and blood circulation in order to be healthy.

Zhou Dynasty (1046 B.C. – 256 B.C.)

Records indicate that bronze objects found from the Zhou Dynasty (11th century – 770 B.C.) were inscribed with the characters “Qigong’ on them. Other records indicate that during the spring and fall and also during the “Period of the Warring States” (475 B.C. – 221 B.C.), a Dao Yin practice, the old version of Qigong, was documented as being practiced.

Qigong Philosophers 551 – 300 B.C.

Confucius, (551–479 B.C.) and Mencius, 385–302 B.C.) are considered the founders of the Qigong literature and traditions in ancient China. In their writings, they alluded to Qi training as methods of moral training.

In the Taoist tradition, the writings of Lao Tzu (400 B.C.) and Chuang Tzu (300 B.C.) also describe meditative cultivation and physical exercises as means to extend one’s lifespan, and to access higher realms of existence.

Han Dynasty (206 B.C. – 220 A.D.)

A famous manuscript of Dao Yin drawings called the Mawangdui Silk Texts (168 B.C.) from the tomb of the Han Dynasty was discovered depicting what is now commonly known as Qigong practices.

Different Names Of Qigong

Other descriptions for Qigong have been used throughout history including:

  • XinQi; “promoting and directing Qi”
  • FuQi; “taking in Qi”
  • Tuna; “Inhaling / Exhaling”
  • XinQi; “promoting and directing Qi”
  • Daoyin; “Inducing & directing Qi”
  • AnQiao; “Massage”
  • Shushu; “Breath Counting”
  • Jingzuo or Jing Gong; “Still Sitting”
  • Wogong; “Lying down exercise”

These different names for Qigong suggest that such practices are practically inherent in the Chinese culture and that they have existed for millenniums only described under different names.

Key Components Of Qigong & Tai Chi

An underlying concept in Qigong & Tai Chi practices are man’s relationship with the natural world, which is related to heaven and earth and referencing the sun and the moon as possibly symbolizing the polarities of Yin and Yang. These concepts are based on the natural world being a teacher of balance and health. Through the study of the natural world, Hua Tuo, a physician and healer created exercises based on watching the movements of five animals; the tiger, the bear, the deer, the monkeys, and the birds. These exercises modified into numerous variations over 2000 years.

Tai Chi Practice 12th Century A.D.

Tai Chi later evolved from Qigong based on the concepts of Hua Tuo’s animal exercises including the fundamental Chinese concepts of the Yin and Yang based in the Tai Chi movements. Some suggest Tai Chi was created by the Chen family in the 1600’s, however its roots are believed to be older. Other evidence suggest that Master Zhang, San-Feng is the actual founder of Tai Chi. Master Zhang, San-Feng was born in 1242 A.D. and was reported to be a healer an a sage and the founder of the internal school of Tai Chi in Wudang Shan. According to various accounts he lived for over 200 years until the mid-Ming dynasty. Master Zhang, San-Feng was documented to have observed a bird attacking a snake and he was greatly inspired by the snake’s defensive tactics. Based on this observation, it purported that this inspired Master Zhang, San-Feng to develop 72 Tai Chi movements. These movements were developed for health, spiritual and mental balance, and also for martial arts application.

Zhang, San-Feng watched the interplay between a snake and a crane to develop the Tai Chi movements. When the crane would strike with its beak stretched out, the snake would withdraw and coil. When the snake would then spring out toward the crane, the crane would withdraw back opening its wings. It was a back and forth dance from which two classic Tai Chi movements evolved; “Snake Creeps Down” and “White Crane Flashes Its Wings”.

Based on this concept of the snake and the crane, the remaining Tai Chi movements created by Zhang, San-Feng reflected either a Yin or Yang motion of movement.

  • The Yin Tai Chi movements are coiled or retracted motions.
  • The Yang Tai Chi movements are straight, outward, and expanding actions.
Qigong, Strokes & General Health

Qigong, Strokes & General Health: A Medical Study

Dr. Sancier reviewed a 30-year follow-up study on hypertensive patients who were divided into a Qigong group and a control group. All patients had been given drug therapy to control blood pressure. The experimental group also practiced Qigong. The mortality rate in the Qigong group was nearly half of the group who did not practice Qigong. The incidence of stroke as well as death due to stroke was half for those who practiced Qigong. In other words, people who did not practice Qigong suffered a stroke or died from stroke at a rate twice that of those who practiced Qigong.

“Researchers also reported that over the 20-year period, blood pressure of the Qigong group stabilized, whereas that of the control group increased. Remarkably, during this period the drug dosage for the Qigong group could be decreased and for 30% of the patients, could be eliminated. However, the drug dosage for the control group had to be increased.”

(Citations for this study as well as other other studies noted in this section can be found in the above-mentioned article.)

Sex Hormone Levels improved with Qigong

Dr. Sancier cited three studies that indicate the trend of estrogen increasing in males and decreasing in females with age “can be reversed by Qigong exercise. In an auxiliary study, “changes were accompanied by improvements in symptoms such as soreness, dizziness, insomnia, hair loss, impotence, and incontinence associated with Kidney deficiency hypertension (a TCM diagnosis.)”

Bone Density increased with Qigong

Dr. Sancier reviewed a study related to aging that found, “bone density was found to increase in male subjects who practiced Qigong for one year.”He conjectured, “That Qigong therapy also would help restore the bone density of women, especially menopausal women, seems likely.” Cancer and Drug Treatment improved with Qigong practice.

Dr. Sancier referenced a study of patients with “medically diagnosed malignant cancer.” They were divided into two groups, and all received drugs. One group, however, practiced Qigong. “Both groups improved, but the Qigong group showed improvement in strength, appetite, freedom from diarrhea, and weight gain four to nine times greater than the control group.” Additionally, a measure of the immune function improved for the Qigong group and decreased for the control group.

Senility Symptoms Reduced with Qigong Practice

Dr. Sancier reported, “To study the mechanism of keeping fit by Qigong, a controlled study was made of 100 subjects classified either as pre-senile or with cerebral function impaired by senility.” The control group, which did not practice Qigong, exercised by walking, walking fast, or running slowly. “Criteria for judging outcome were based on measuring clinical signs and symptoms including cerebral function, sexual function, serum lipid levels, and function of
endocrine glands.”

The results: “After six months, eight of the 14 main clinical signs and symptoms in the Qigong group had improved more than 80%, whereas none of the symptoms in the control group had improved more than 45%.”

Dr. Sancier wrote, “A tenet of Qigong is that the mind leads the Qi, and the Qi leads the blood.”

Citations for this study by Dr. Ken Sancier can be found at
Anti-Aging Benefits of Qigong
The Qigong Institute
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