The path to learn qigong can help you feel, move and work with energy in your body. It is a powerful way to become more fully alive and conscious.
Although qigong is gaining popularity in the West, there are hundreds of styles, many different teachers and also many different definitions of what qigong is.
On this page we explore some of the major question as you embark on your journey to learn qigong including:
- Should I Learn Qigong or Tai Chi?
- Why Learn Qigong?
- Why Separate and Combine to Learn Qigong?
Should I Learn Qigong or Tai Chi?
In China, there are literally hundreds of qigong styles and sets, some simple and some more complex. Although not widely known, tai chi is a specific type of qigong that has standardized movements and a common origin.
The challenge with learning tai chi is that it typically has a minimum of 24 movements and as many as 108 movements for longer tai chi forms. It often takes the average person years of study and practice and most people just don’t have the time to dedicate when they first start practicing.
The good news is Energy Arts teaches six qigong sets that only have two to eight movements per set. Each qigong sets in our system helps you build a solid energetic foundation in your body.
- Learning qigong takes much less time to learn and can be practiced in more confined spaces.
- Learning qigong provides an easier way to directly feel what is going on inside your body.
- Qigong sets can be chosen based on what you want to learn (e.g., moving chi, better breathing, alignments.
- All of our qigong sets are extremely safe.
- Learning qigong is traditionally the Taoist preparatory practice for internal arts training, such as bagua, tai chi and hsing-i, as well as energetic healing (qigong tui na) and Taoist meditation.
“Practicing tai chi and qigong has made me a different person at 63 than I was at 55. I haven’t had bronchitis for three winters now. My allergies have all but disappeared. I can go for months at a time without using inhalers. I no longer have that stooped chicken walk. And I have the energy and stamina I had in my early thirties.”
–Diane Rapaport, author of How To Make and Sell Your Own Recording and A Music Business Primer
Why Learn Qigong?
Learning Qigong Facilitates Mental Clarity
Strengthening and balancing the energy of your mind enhances your ability to detect subtle nuances and to perceive the world and its patterns at ever-increasing levels of complexity. People who do not practice some form of energy development may never acquire these abilities
In my teachings, I help students not only understand how lack of clarity causes instability and negative emotions, but I also incorporate mind-to-mind transmissions to give students a recognizable, felt sense of stillness and enthusiasm to fully engage their mind’s intent without force. — Bruce Frantzis
A Body-based Practice Builds Your Foundation
All Taoist spiritual practice begins with learning qigong. The Taoist Water tradition was described by Lao Tse in the Tao Te Ching over 2,500 years ago. According to this sophisticated tradition, which has been transmitted for millennia from teacher to disciple in an unbroken lineage to the Taoist sage Liu Hung Chieh and from him to Bruce.
Grounded spiritual pursuits start with improving the health of the physical body. The practitioner therefore seeks to become relaxed, fully alive and balanced before taking on the more difficult challenges of working with the unseen spirit world.
So learning qigong can be done by people who only want to become physically healthy and do not care about delving deeper into psychological or spiritual matters. For generations, qigong has been used by martial artists, many of whom remained unconcerned with spiritual development.
Learning Qigong Clears Energy Blocks
Many people involved with spiritual disciplines focus their attention on enlightenment, and in the process injure their bodies and agitate their minds. They attempt to train in the higher spiritual disciplines without first clearing the energy blocks in their physical and emotional bodies.
The Energy Arts System follows classic Taoist training whereby students start by balancing their physical body and its energy, allowing you to not only handle, but also generate increasingly more power for spiritual pursuits in Taoist meditation.
Qigong Exercises Are Safe and Effective for All Ages
Learning qigong is among the most efficient and powerful health maintenance exercises anyone is likely to find. They are gentle, low-impact exercises that are easy on the joints and can be done by people who cannot do other forms of aerobic exercise or yoga, and by the sick or injured.
Learning qigong can do wonders to rejuvenate the elderly. In fact, more than 50 percent of the people who begin tai chi and qigong practice in China do so after the age of 60, when the realities of aging can no longer be ignored.
Learning Qigong Progressively Relieves Stress and Increases Energetic Fitness
Stress has become the disease of the modern age.
Energy Arts practices are among the few proven methods that teach you how to heal the root cause of stress—over burdened, taut and weak nerves. Learning how to progressively relax your nervous system will allow your chi to flow strongly and abundantly.
Few Westerners have ever experienced deep relaxation. Because they feel stressed most of the time, they are psychologically unprepared for the fact that relaxation can become a norm in life rather than an aberration. It is even more difficult for people to realize that the more relaxed they are the more energy, stamina, awareness, clarity and strength they will have.
Modern science is finding ways to extend the human lifespan, but who would wish to live longer without quality of life? Energetic fitness through learning qigong enables the progressive release of tension and anxiety so that relaxation becomes a living reality, and you can open to the joy inside you. This principle is at the core of all Energy Arts teachings.
Learning Qigong for Health and Healing
Taoist chi practices such as qigong and tai chi are miracle health practices, renowned for improving health and releasing pain in hundreds of millions of people. Learning qigong and other energy arts practices teach you how to:
- Clear energetic blockages that hold negative emotions and thoughts
- Loosen the muscles and build focus and stamina
- Strengthen the organs and the nerves
- Improve cardio-pulmonary and vascular function
- Ease stress and balance emotions
- Regain sexual vitality
- Increase compassion, clarity and peace of mind.
Separate and Combine to Learn Qigong
When you start to learn qigong it is important that you first build a solid energetic foundation. Dragon and Tiger Qigong, Energy Gates Qigong and Heaven and Earth Qigong were created with this in mind.
Each of these qigong sets focus on specific internal components:
- Body alignments
- Moving and clearing stagnant energy
- Opening and closing
- Movement of fluids.
In general, you first learn a specific internal component such as breathing techniques by itself, then you put it into a qigong move. So you might learn how to breath with your belly and extend your breath. The next step is to practice a qigong move while you breathe with your belly and extend your breath. This is the starting point and method of learning to integrate all the internal components into your qigong, tai chi or internal martial arts practice.
Then, you put aside what you have learned and repeat the process with another technique or component. Once you have mastered both individually, only then do you combine the two internal movements into the qigong set. This is the principle of separate and combe. In this way you prepare your body to do more with no strain or effort.
Five of the six qigong sets we teach are linked to the five elements in the Chinese system–Wood, Fire, Water, Metal and Earth. As you learn qigong sets, you will also learn how the energies of the Five Elements flow through the human body. As you get more sensitive, you will understand the underlying nature of the elements, how it affects your body and how it affects your chi.
Qigong is an exciting art form and science; a lifelong pursuit that leads you toward personal mastery! Energy Arts qigong sets are designed to take you from a beginner all the way to mastery. We hope you continue to explore all that learning qigong and tai chi has to offer.
QIGONG FOR SENIORS
Qigong exercises such as Energy Gates Qigong and Dragon & Tiger Medical Qigong are among the most efﬁcient and powerful health maintenance exercises anyone is likely to ﬁnd. They are gentle, low impact exercises that are easy on the joints and can be done by people who cannot do other forms of aerobic exercise or yoga, and by the sick or injured.
Starting Qigong After 50
Qigong can do wonders to rejuvenate the elderly. In fact, more than 50 percent of the people who begin tai chi and qigong in China do so after the age of 60, when the realities of aging can no longer be pushed aside. Already, hundreds of millions of people over the age of 60 have found qigong to be uniquely effective.
If a form of exercise can make the old functionally younger, its effect on the young or middle-aged is inestimable. If nothing else, it is guaranteed to help release stress, as well as improve your sex life.
Gentle Qigong Exercise
Gentle qigong exercises like Energy Gates Qigong can even be adapted for use by the bedridden in hospitals. They are quite safe. Anyone can do them. This is not the case with some types of qigong or tai chi, which, without the constant supervision of a teacher, may cause signiﬁcant damage.
The chi ﬂow in the body may be likened to an electrical system. If there is not enough insulation on the wires, or the circuits are connected improperly, the system can short-circuit or otherwise malfunction. Obviously, you do not want this happening to your body.
Although there are hundreds of qigong systems, the techniques they use (which have countless names) can be boiled down to ﬁve or six basic types. Some qigong systems require that a teacher meet regularly with no more than a few students at a time in order to prevent potential damage. There are qigong systems that must only be begun before puberty. There are methods that are inappropriate for certain groups to practice, such as males, or females, or people with speciﬁc health problems, or people of certain emotional dispositions, or people who have been injured physically or mentally. The exercises presented in the Energy Gates series are the best that could ethically be put in print for the general public, as they can be practiced by almost anyone, which is as safe as any qigong system gets.
The West’s Growing Medical Crisis
Until about 1980, the medical systems of the United States and Europe ran reasonably well. Up to that time, the over-60 population ﬂuctuated at somewhere below ten percent of the total population.
As the baby boomers age, the percentage of elderly in the population continues to rise. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 1993, one in eight Americans was older than 65; by 2030, the number is expected to be one in ﬁve—70 million elderly or 20 percent of the population!
Older people require signiﬁcantly more medical attention for the same illness than younger people do. For example, a thirty-year old with liver problems, even caused by alcohol, might need a week or two in a hospital. However, a person over sixty could need four to six weeks for the same problem. The deterioration of our medical system is partly due to this simple fact.
Epidemic of Chronic Diseases
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, chronic diseases are the cause of 70 percent of deaths of our elderly. These are generally life-style diseases that are not caused by infection. They have long, debilitating courses and are rarely cured. These diseases include arthritis, asthma, heart disease, high blood pressure, poor circulation and depression. They are termed life-style diseases because they are caused by living and working in unhealthy environments or by stress, alcohol, tobacco, poor diet or lack of exercise.
Chronic diseases cause great human suffering for the people that have them and for those that love and care for them. Chronic diseases now have a severe impact on the lives of countless children and young adults.
The amount of money spent on doctors, hospital stays and pharmaceuticals to mitigate chronic disease is enormous. For example, arthritis, which limits the activity of over seven million people, is second only to heart disease as a cause of worker disability. By 2020, an estimated 60 million Americans will be affected by arthritis and more than 11 million will be disabled by it. Recent estimates place the direct medical cost of arthritis at $15.2 billion per year, with total costs of medical care and lost wages exceeding $64 billion.
If people take measures to better care for themselves and mitigate stress and arthritis, more health care money will be available for research, infectious disease prevention, surgery, etc.
Qigong: An Ideal Health Exercise
New ways must be found to enhance and maintain ﬁtness among the elderly. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, Data Warehouse on Trends in Health and Aging, in 1998, 69.2 percent of Medicare beneﬁciaries sixty-ﬁve and over had trouble stooping and 45.6 percent had trouble walking. In 1998, over 30 percent reported having difﬁculty with heavy housework and about 18 percent reported difﬁculty with shopping.
Qigong is a great alternative health practice that can help people take control of their well-being, stay healthy and prevent or mitigate chronic illness.
Health Insurance and Health Crisis?
Insurance companies keep increasing their rates dramatically, particularly for people over ﬁfty. Moreover, in 2005, one in six people in America did not have health care insurance, and these numbers are expected to get worse.
If the trend continues, people will not be able to afford health insurance unless they are very wealthy.
The statistics speak volumes about the growing costs of healthcare and the desire of health insurance companies to avoid bearing the burden of those costs.
This leads to some very basic questions, which every Westerner should seriously consider. For example:
- Is my health my responsibility or the responsibility of others?
- Can I trust my health to insurance companies and HMOs that have excellent ﬁnancial reasons to make my medical care less than it could be? Will I be denied health care, period?
- How will I feel if I have to enter a nursing home?
- Do I genuinely want to be physically and mentally active in my later years, and I am willing to put in the time and effort through qigong to achieve this?
- Am I willing to make a long-term commitment to regularly practicing qigong regularly or something else that continuously regenerates me to maintain my health and reduce my stress?
- Can I stick with something like qigong or tai chi long term, without depending on products or services that promise instant gratiﬁcation?
- Can I change my lifestyle habits to include qigong as a daily practice?
The Qigong Solution
After the cultural revolution in 1949, China found itself with less than half of its former medical personnel, both Western and traditional. The rest had been killed, ﬂed the country, or gone underground. During the Mao era, the population increased from 400 to 800 million.
The government acknowledged the crisis. Having no interest whatsoever in facing a counter-revolution, leaders took draconian measures. Fortunately, what they implemented worked. The national health problem stabilized until the quantity of medical personnel needed was ﬁnally restored.
What the government did was this: they told the top tai chi teachers that they must design tai chi and qigong programs for the health of the general population. Many of these masters wanted to keep their secrets to themselves, so their families could retain their “patents.” It has been said that the government insisted that they make their secrets public, or face the extermination of their families down to the last child or relative. Given traditional Chinese family values, this would have loosened things up signiﬁcantly, and a national program of tai chi, incorporating many of the principles in this book, was set up across the country.
Non-emergency patients visiting hospitals with complaints from chronic illnesses caused by poor lifestyle or overwork were directed to the hospital administrator. There, they were provided with an ID card and given the name of a nearby tai chi or qigong practitioner. If patients wanted to qualify for another doctor’s appointment, or admittance to a hospital, they were required to have their card stamped every day for three months by a local tai chi or qigong instructor, certifying that they had practiced. It must be remembered that the only access to medical care was through the government—there were few, if any, private doctors in China at this time.
The system worked. Tai chi and qigong managed to keep health matters as stable as they could be kept given the poor sanitation and starvation diet most lived with. For the Chinese to get through this incredibly rough period, from the mid 1950s on, it is estimated that between 100 and 200 million people practiced tai chi or qigong daily. Qigong is currently becoming more popular than tai chi in urban environments because available space keeps getting tighter in China, and qigong requires less of it.
Tai chi and qigong are the only internal energy systems that have actually been practiced by and have worked for large masses of a population. Yoga practitioners never exceeded one percent of India’s population. Considering the parallels between the problems presented by the West’s aging population and what China went through, it is encouraging that qigong methods can serve as a model for preventing a great deal of the medical misery that our increased elderly population will most certainly be confronting. Socialized medicine alone is not the answer; many European countries with socialized medicine are facing the same problems. Aging populations that require high-tech medical care simply create too much expense to bear.