Qigong is a self-initiated moving meditation consisting of a combination of movement, self-massage, meditation and breathing. Qigong practice is a realization that energy controls a person's physiology and health. Qigong’s roots can be traced back many millennia and are attributed to various sources starting with the Yellow Emporer and Laozi (around 400 BC) and Zhuangzi (around 300 BC) of the Taoist tradition.
There are several different forms of Qigong based on its uses and benefits to a specific group: To the traditional Chinese medicine community it is therapeutic and curative, to the religious community it is meditative, and to the martial arts community it enhances martial abilities. Qigong can be done anywhere, anytime. It is used for stress reduction, prevention of illness, and for dealing with chronic disease. Qigong has been analyzed scientifically and been found to have therapeutic benefits.
Qigong is officially recognized as a medical technique in Chinese hospitals and is included in many of its university curriculums as well as its National Health Plan. Qigong can involve the teaching of diaphragmatic breathing and some elements of martial arts similar to Tai Chi. There are over ten thousand styles of qigong currently practiced, each promoting increased health by increasing range of motion, flexibility, and stress management through calming techniques. Depending upon which style is being practiced, a Qigong system consists of one or more of the following types of training; dynamic, static, meditative, and activities requiring external aids. Each type of training originated from different elements within Chinese society and emphasizes different aspects of Qigong theory. It is important to find a teacher that is well trained in Qigong to gain the most from its orthodox practices.
Teachers of Qigong receive varying amounts of training in both Qigong and Tai Chi depending on the school they attend as well as the level at which they wish to teach. Courses requiring 25 hours of study can allow a student to become a teacher at their local YMCA or spa, whereas courses spanning 200+ hours will lead to becoming a certified teacher. Students with a degree from an accredited oriental medicine school can receive specialized training to become Integral Qigong physicians.
Credentials and Regulation Bodies
There is no current national standard for certification in Qigong. However, the National Qigong Association provides internal certification to its qualifying members. In addition, schools of Qigong may provide their own certification for teachers who have completed the required curriculum.
The largest professional association for Qigong is the National Qigong Association (NQA). While there is no set standard of practice for this modality, the NQA does have its own set of regulations that its certified professional members follow.
Qigong can be offered in private sessions or in groups. Private lessons can range from $60 to $90. Group classes are $10 to $20.