Qi gong, pronounced “chee gong,” is a gentle, flowing form of movement therapy that delivers a variety of health benefits. The words qi gong mean “energy work” or “energy cultivation.” Once only associated with Taoist and Buddhist monks in China, millions of people around the world now practice this regimen of meditative motion and deep breathing to enhance their physical and spiritual wellbeing. Since 1989, qi gong has been recognized by Chinese hospitals as a form of medical treatment for health conditions like fibromyalgia, and has been steadily gaining popularity in the United States within both the conventional and integrative health communities.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, the principles on which qi gong is based, energy (qi) flows through our bodies along channels called meridians. When this energy is strong and flowing freely to all parts of your body, you are in a state of good health. Disturbance in this flow is thought to give rise to disease, and blockage of the flow is felt as chronic pain. Long-term exposure to big and small stressors—whether that’s undergoing cancer treatment or simply handling the pressures of a busy life—depletes our supply of qi. The calm movements and breathing patterns that comprise qi gong are designed to help restore a healthy, flowing balance of qi throughout your body, which helps improve your health and balance your mental and emotional state.
Qi gong movements can help improve joint flexibility, muscle strength and range of motion. With its meditative elements and focus on deep, diaphragmatic breathing, qi gong is an effective way to manage tension and anxiety, too. Here are some of the other documented health benefits: