Chi Kung practice is one of the oldest and highest forms of healing, next to meditation. It is used extensively in Chinese hospitals for patients to promote their own healing or can be received as a treatment from a high level practitioner. The practice is a much older precursor of Tai Chi, which embodies all the essential principles of Chi Kung. All Tai Chi classes commence with Chi Kung practice.

Chi or Qi has no exact translation in English. It could be seen as life force, energy, vitality, that which moves. The Chinese character is compiled of the two substances which give us life – rice (food) and vapour (air). Kung or Gong denotes skill derived from persistent and dedicated practice.

Chi Kung or Qigong (both pronounced Chee Kong) literally means the practice of working (Kung/Gong) with the life-force (Chi/Qi). So, Tai Chi is in itself a form of Chi Kung. Chi Kung is the precursor to Tai Chi both historically and usually within a learning situation.

Chi Kung potentially dates back more than 7,000 years. In more recent times it is said to have been used by the Shaolin monks, who found they needed a physical meditative practice to keep fit and healthy, rather than just sitting meditation.

There are many different types of Chi Kung. It can be a stand alone practice or as a precursor to learning Tai Chi.

We combine still, standing awareness, known as Zhan Zhong or Standing Like a Tree, with gentle moving Chi Kung, co-ordinating the mind and body and, when appropriate, the breathing. Rather than learning the more complex moves of Tai Chi, these are repeated moves following the instructor.

Benefits come from being as relaxed as possible in the postures to allow circulations to flow more freely, whilst maintaining a focused and alert mind. More repetition reaps more rewards. The practice helps to relax the mind and body, clear blockages in the system and to strengthen at a deep internal level.

Huge benefits are available to anyone, who is prepared to commit a little time each day to their own wellbeing.

Aims of Qigong

  • to clear blockages and unhelpful patterns in the system;
  • to strengthen physically and psychologically;
  • to develop the Will and strengthen the central nervous system;
  • to develop awareness, self knowledge and sensitivity;
  • to develop focus and train the intent;
  • to learn to “let go”;
  • to bring harmony to the body/mind;
  • to promote each individual’s ability for self-healing.

Types of Qigong

Standing
This is the simplest and fastest way to clear and strengthen the system and also requires the greatest discipline. In “Zhan Zhong” practice, usually translated as “Standing like a Tree”, the practitioner adopts simple postures into which to relax. This promotes the free flow of all the circulations in the system and develops internal strength. Sustained practice will yield good results but it is advisable to have a good teacher/practitioner monitoring one’s progress.

Moving
This practice usually consists of slow, gentle, focused movements. It is good for moving Qi and clearing the system. It is most accessible in the early stages inasmuch as it keeps the practitioner’s mind occupied. As with all things, it is best to keep it simple. Repetition of one movement will reap more benefit than a large repertoire of different exercises. Tai Chi is a form of moving Qigong but there are many systems currently being taught.

Spontaneous movement can be part of the practice, as the body responds to the movement and changes in Chi flow. Some practices encourage this, others consider it to be a transitory phase to which one shouldn’t get attached.

Liz teaches a selection of Chi Kung practices in her classes, including:

Marriage of Heaven and Earth
Taiji Shibashi
Ba Duan Jin
Dragon and Tiger
Zhan Zhong
Phoenix Form

Links to Notes for Students:

Intro to Qigong and Tai Chi practice

Ba Duan Jin Qigong
10 Taijishibashi Qigong
Illustrated set of 18 Taijishibashi Qigong
18 Stance large x 3.pdf

For Chi Kung classes in Lancashire: www.northwesttaichi.com

© Liz Welch 2023