Qigong is a system of slow movements, breathing techniques and meditations. This is an ancient Chinese practice that is used to accumulate, cleanse, and refine our life force. Qi is the Chinese word for “life energy.” Gong means “work.” Thus, Qigong means working with the life energy, learning how to control the flow and distribution of qi to improve the health and harmony of mind and body. By learning to feel and self-regulate the flow of qi, one can relax and let go of stress and worry, promoting balance.
Qigong was originally a Taoist practice used to assist in spiritual development. By working with the internal energy, a Taoist practitioner would refine their base energy into more and more subtle levels of energy, allowing them to move past cravings and attachments and live in flow with the natural rhythms of the Universe.
Forms of Qigong were later developed that focus on physical health. These are the most common forms taught in the United States and include 5 element Qigong, Healing Sounds, Bone Marrow Cleansing, Primordial, Yi Quan and Coiling Silk. These forms are generally concerned with cleansing, purifying and circulating healthy Qi throughout the energy body. These exercises are designed to break up stagnation and create healthy movement in the meridians and energy centers (dan tians) of the energy body. In this way, Qigong is often referred to as acupuncture without needles.
Finally, Qigong can be used as a martial art application, the most common of which is Taiji Quan or Tai Chi. While it may not look like a martial art at first glance, every movement in these systems have martial art applications. When these systems are performed with correct form and intent they are much more than a dance and become a healing practice that improves balance, coordination and timing.
Research has shown that Qigong and Tai Chi participation reduces blood pressure, increases maximum oxygen consumption, increases immune function, and improves flexibility, posture and balance. The meditative and breathing practice aspects of Qigong and Tai Chi programs have been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.
Dr. Tarrant teaches drop in classes every Wednesday at noon in Columbia, MO and is available for private lessons.