Qigong

Oigong, which means breathing exercise, is another form of Chinese folk sport. Like martial arts, it has a long history and is widely popular. It is believed that Qigong was known 4,000 to 5,000 years ago. Bronze objects from the Zhou Dynasty (11th century-770 B.C.) are inscribed with the characters "Qi gong". The Yellow Emperor's Classics of Internal Medicine, the earliest extant general medical collection in China, expounded on the benefits of Qigong. Today, Qigong is a way to keep fit in both mind and body, and is becoming part of many Chinese people's life.

Qi is defined as the motive force for human life and the basic substance of the universe. According to traditional Chinese medical theory, Qi refers not only to the air that people breathe in and out, but also to all the physiological functions of the body's organs and tissues.

Main Types
1) Quiescent Qigong requires practitioners to concentrate their minds to have the Qi moving along the Jingluo or the channels and collaterals.
2) Dynamic Qigong involves body movements with which a calmness of the mind can be achieved.

Styles
1) Daoyin: guiding and inducing
One of the oldest styles, it is based on arm and leg movements combined with meditation and breathing. Physical daoyin requires various postures such as sitting, standing, walking, lying and massaging. Mental Daoyin requires concentration of thoughts on one object so as to put the cerebral cortex in a special inhibiting state. Taiji is really a good example of Daoyin because of its sequence of supple, light and harmonious movements.

2) Tuna: exhaling and inhaling
This is a synthesis of different breathing techniques. The basic principle of this style is that one replaces the stale and stagnated air with fresh air, thus maintaining the normal functioning of the internal organs.

3) Quietism
This style requires practitioners to keep the body still, meditating to produce beneficial Qi. Thus, the mind can be brought into a state of peace.

4) Cunxiang
In this style, practitioners need to make good use of their imagination. They should meditate with their eyes closed, seeking inner harmony and remaining aware of, and in touch with, the outer world (reality).

5) Neidan
As an active form of Qigong, this style postulates that through exercise, Qi can circulate throughout the body via the collateral channels, ensuring health and longevity.

Varied as they are, these five styles have one principle in common, by regulating the breathing, the mind and the physical body makes full use of Qi.

Traditional Chinese medical theory maintains that Qigong has many practical functions. By practicing Qigong, people can keep fit in both mind and body and adjust the functions of the nervous, respiratory, digestive, circulatory and endocrine systems. Qigong can greatly improve one's strength. There are many stories about Qigong masters with extraordinary strength. Such as the story about Shaolin monk, Hai Deng, who was well known for his ability to use his index finger like a sharp knife, at one time demonstrating this by sticking his finger through a thick sack of grain. Personality changes are noticed among. Practitioners become less prone to anger and more easy-going. It is especially good as a form of health-care, as a way to lose weight, and as a method for improving one's general appearance.

Today Qigong is practiced in many countries like Japan, Korea, Australia and the United States. Its value is being recognized by more and more people. It is possible that Qigong, one of China's national treasures, with its unique characteristics and marvelous functions, will play an important role in improving people's health and well-being.