Qigong is defined as the skill of developing the qi (chi). The definition of qi is threefold:
- breath (inhalation and exhalation)
- life force that circulates within the acupuncture meridians or channels
- vital essence that gives life to the body
"Soft" qigong develops internal qi, through mental concentration, control of the breath, physical exercise and meditation. Internal qi is necessary for health and longevity and is prerequisite for the development of external qi. "Hard" qigong is utilized by martial arts practitioners to develop expansion qi or external qi.
Qigong was developed about 3,000 years ago in the Han Dynasty by a surgeon named Hwa-to. He taught the Five Frolics (Five Animals) Qigong, which involved mental concentration and physical movement. Currently there are hundreds of different Qigong forms being practiced around the world.
There are three requirements for the development of qi:
1. Three States of Mind
2. Four Physical Requirements
- Clothing: cotton, loose, warm enough; do not wear jewelry or watch
- Diet: no smoking, drinking, or drugs; no spicy or stimulating foods; more vegetarian foods; wait one hour after eating before practice.
- Place of practice: not dark, damp or polluted
- Activities, behavior, mentality, emotions, spiritual conduct: avoid excesses of happiness, anger, excitement, worry, fear, sorrow, shock; avoid overindulgence in sex, food and drink; exercise common sense.
3. Important Practice Principles
- Circular, round, wavy lines. Your body must form a circle, not a straight line. Each arm and leg and the trunk and neck should bend a little bit. Gestures should not be rigid. This posture promotes blood circulation, avoids tension, relieves stress, and promotes qi circulation.
- Gentleness and softness. Limber up, loosen up, relax. Don’t be stiff. This does not mean to be placid or without life... qigong (and Tai Chi Chuan) requires vividness and expression, hard and soft interwoven into the whole system.
- Distant gazing. Your eyes may be closed or slightly open, but your mind is distant. Your eyes gaze distantly, gaze into emptiness (without focusing onto an object). Although you may begin your practice by gazing into emptiness, eventually you must bring the concentration to the tan tien (a point below the navel) in order to develop qi