tai chi

Traditional exercise therapy, called “Daoyin” (conduction exercise) in ancient times, is a disease-curing and preventing method that combines bodily movements, breathing exercises, and self-massage. Early from the Spring and Autumn and the Warring States Periods, Zhuangzi recorded how to breathe to rid the body of stale air and take in the fresh air, and to stretch and move the body like the bears and birds; to the Daoyin Tu in the Han Dynasty; Hua Tuo’s Wuqinxi; or Baduanjin in the Tang and Song Dynasties; to Taijiquan in the late Ming and early Qing Dynasties; to the modern-day Qubing Yannian Ershi Shi, Liangoing Shiba Fa, etc. traditional exercise therapy has a long history, has been gradually improved, and is now widely used in rehabilitation practices.

Qigong has a long history in China, and related concepts in ancient times are often called tu-na (exhalation and inhalation), daoyin (conduction exercise), xingqi (moving qi), fuqi (similar to tu-na), liandan, xiudao, zuochan, etc. The name Qigong rarely appears in ancient books, though similar concepts are occasionally mentioned, and there was no complete explanation of it. Until the 1950s, Liu Guizhen wrote in her book Qigong Liaofa Shijian (the practice of qigong therapy), “the word ‘qi’ here means breathing, and ‘gong’ refers to practices that constantly adjust breathing and posture…” It is widely accepted that “qigong” has from then been defined and spread.

Qigong, based on dynamic and static standards, can be divided into two categories: static gong and dynamic gong. Static gong can be further divided into lying, sitting, and standing exercises according to the posture, and specific gongfa (a complete set of moves) such as relaxing gong, Neiyang gong, Zhanzhuang gong, etc. Most dynamic gongs involve standing and walking, such as E-mei Shi-er Zhuang, Taijiquan, Wuqinxi, etc. There are also dynamic gongs involving sitting, such as Zuoshi Baduanjin. In special cases, one can also do exercise lying down. Dynamic gong can also be divided into routine dynamic gong and non-routine dynamic gong according to whether there is a standardized segment of the moves. Non-routine dynamic gong can also be divided into Sanshou gong and Youfa gong based on whether it is completely random.

Traditional exercise therapy can refine the body by moving it, and refine qi by practicing breathing, and guide qi with the mind, lead blood with qi so that the qi and blood throughout the body can run properly, and the sick body can recover. Traditional exercise therapy commonly used in modern rehabilitation practices includes Wuqinxi, Baduanjin, Taijiquan, and so on.

Qigong helps bring one’s consciousness into self-hypnosis through autosuggestion-centered methods. It utilizes the self-adjustment mechanism of psychology-physiology-form to achieve the mind-body balance, thus strengthening the body and curing diseases. Using specific methods required by Qigong, patients adjust their breathing, physical form, and mind, regulate their qi and blood, zang-fu organs’ functions, and the balance between yin and yang, thereby promoting mental and physical recovery

1) Body adjustment (posture): meaning adjusting the posture, as different gongfa has different requirements for postures. In general, there are four categories: walking, standing, sitting, and lying.

2) Breathing adjustment: only by adjusting breathing properly can a better practice result be achieved. There are many ways to adjust breathing, among which natural breathing, chest breathing, abdominal breathing, and levator ani breathing are the most common.

3) Mind adjustment: or mental adjustment. When exercising, one must keep the mind inward and prevent it from wandering around. This is the main feature that differentiates Qigong from other exercises.

When practicing Qigong, the three elements interrelate and promote one another. They must be organically combined and harmonized to help one reach a state of tranquility and achieve better outcomes. There are many gongfas of Qigong, among which the most used are relaxing gong, Neiyang gong, and Qiangzhuang gong in rehabilitation practices. These three gongs are also the basic gongfas of various Qigong. Qigong therapy bears many characteristics of traditional Chinese medicine, and its emphasis on the three adjustments is what distinguishes it from other traditional Chinese therapies.

Initiative: if one wants to receive good results, one should first have faith in defeating the disease and give full play to one’s subjective active role. On the other, be good at initiative self-control and guide all psychological activities and behaviors with ration.

Holism: Qigong therapy does not aim at one specific body part or one type of disease but improves overall wellness and aims to enhance the quality of the human body.

Naturalness: following nature is a basic principle of Qigong. It means respecting objective laws while making full use of natural conditions to actively exercise.

Comprehensiveness: although Qigong can be used as the main way of treatment or solely, in most cases it is still used as a part of a comprehensive therapy.

Traditional Chinese medicine believes that Qigong therapy has the functions of balancing yin and yang, regulating qi and blood, harmonizing zang-fu organs, and building up one’s qi, energy, and spirit. Modern research has proved that Qigong therapy can adjust the excitation and inhibition process of the nervous system, promote blood circulation, enhance heart functions, reduce metabolic rate, improve digestion and absorption, correct abnormal breathing patterns, and enhance the body’s immunity.

There are many types of Qigong, and those used in rehabilitation practices and their applicability are as follows:

Songjing gong: characterized by the combination of qi refinement and mental refinement. Silently recite “songjing” to gradually relax the whole body using consciousness. It is suitable for patients with hypertension, coronary heart disease, cerebral arteriosclerosis, etc.

Neiyang gong: characterized by the combination of exercise into stillness and abdominal closed breathing. It is suitable for treating gastric and duodenal ulcers and gastroptosis.

Qiangzhuang gong: characterized by focusing on mind adjustment and exercising into tranquility/stillness. Suitable for preventing or curing neurasthenia.

Jing (static) gong: characterized by focusing on body and mind adjustments and exercising into tranquility /stillness. Suitable for preventing or curing neurasthenia.

Kuaisu (quick) Youdao (induction) Qigong: characterized by the combination of suggestion and qi refinement to induce tranquility/stillness. Suitable for preventing and curing cardiovascular system diseases.

Qigong Banyun Fa: centering using consciousness to guide qi run through conception and governor vessels. Suitable for curing neurasthenia, nocturnal emission, premature ejaculation, etc.

New Qigong: combining mind, breathing, movement, tu-na, and comprehensive guidance. For treating a variety of chronic diseases.

Sanyuanshi Zhan (standing) gong: focusing on the body/form refinement, combining the practice of breathing and exercise into stillness. Used for enhancing physical constitution, prevention and treatment of diseases.

Tongzhongshi Zhan gong: a combination of form, mind, and qi refinement. Used to prevent or cure tuberculosis.

Taijibang (stick) Qigong: under the premise of songjing, doing simple moves using a small wooden stick to induce tranquility. For preventing and treating a variety of chronic diseases.