WHAT IS QIGONG?
QIGONG Many Qigong exercises are quite simple and easy to learn. Through regular repetition in class and on your own, you gradually get more relaxed, flexible, healthier, and stronger. You relieve stress and your breathing becomes easier and deeper. Your mind becomes calmer and you boost your immune system. Your body is nourished and your different energies are balanced. Aided by coordinated breathing, the repetitive movements gently move qi through your body.
Qigong 气功 literally means Energy Work. It originated in Daoism and is deeply linked with Chinese medicine. It later became associated with Buddhism as well. The historical record isn’t definitive about the date Qigong began, but by the time records appear in burial sites and texts, Qigong was well established. 2000 BCE is a reasonable date of origin.
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN QIGONG AND TAIJI?
TAIJI Taiji 太极 is a martial art that grew out of Qigong around 1200 CE. The slow movements you've probably seen can all be speeded up to make a very effective martial art. The forms are usually much longer than the shorter Qigong forms and thus take much longer to learn. Taiji can be practiced with an emphasis on the martial, the meditative, or the medical qualities. Qigong is more situated in the medical and the meditative aspects.
QIGONG Some Qigong styles, however, are more athletic, with leaps and lunges, and were part of military training. Some modern versions have this origin, but the length and intensity of practice is often lessened.
Regular Qigong practice often leads to contentment, a nice feeling of harmony with those close to you, and an appreciation for the world around you. Qigong can be done primarily for health, and it is certainly effective for this goal, but many practitioners find that it opens or widens the door of their spirituality and they wish to explore this further.
NEIGONG Neigong 内功 literally means Internal Work, that is, changing the inside of your body, which can lead to spiritual development. Daoism holds that it is the nature of being human to spiritually grow. Damo Mitchell defines Neigong as the process of conditioning your body, cultivating your internal universe, and elevating your consciousness. It is not a specific exercise, but rather a series of stages of development.
NEIDAN Neidan 内丹 literally means Internal Elixir, often translated as Internal Alchemy. After the ancient Chinese sages failed to find a magic elixir that would give them immortality, they realized that the longevity-providing elixir was within their own bodies, available through advanced internal work. This alchemy is the transformation of the physical body to the energetic body to the consciousness body.
DAO YIN 导引 literally means Leading Guiding. Dao Yin comes from the shamanic Wu people, likely from well before 2000 BCE. Originally conceived to purge evil spirits, the forms continued as a way of purging pathogens. When stagnant qi is released from the body, healthy qi can freely circulate.