Chinese Practices > Qigong

List ISHAR Online Sources: Chinese Practices > Qigong


Functional Summary


  • Mind/Body
  • Materia Medica

Coordination of breathing techniques, slow-movements, and meditation to strengthen, cleanse, and encourage flow of chi.


  • Restoration
  • Prevention
  • Optimization

To increase health and stamina, while decreasing stress. Promotes healing.


  • Chinese

Origins in ancient China. Standardization of practices in the mid-20th century.


Topic Summary

Qigong has a documented history of approximately two thousand years, though references to similar practices have been found from at least five thousand years ago. Qigong contains a myriad of focuses and approaches, many drawing from Confucianism, Buddhism, Daoism, or traditional Chinese medical practices.

In the late 1940s and the 1950s, the Chinese government attempted to standardize qigong. Its popularity grew from Mao Zedong’s death through the 1990s. Tourism and globalization spread the practice of qigong globally, with the majority of practitioners focusing on its medical aspects.

Qigong involves a wide variety of practices which may include slow-movement, meditation, both in silence and with chanting and sound, and the channeling of chi from one person to another. Generally, most qigong practices implement dynamic practice, involving fluid movement and concentration on breath; static practice, wherein one attempts to hold the same position for a set period; meditative practice, which also focuses on breathing, but may also utilize mantra, chanting, sound, and philosophical reflection; and use of external agents, such as herbs, massage, and various forms of interaction. All of these practices are performed with the intention of cultivating chi, and manipulating its flow throughout the body. Chi is thought to be the life force found in all things, with the ability to aid healing and promote general health and well-being.

Many people practice qigong because it is low-impact, with little risk of injury. Potential benefits include reduced stress, and subsequent eased sleep and enhanced immune system, increased stamina, and better balance.


Research Summary

Though extensively tested, research on qigong has not conclusively proven that it has medical merit, with numerous scientists criticizing positive studies as flawed in various ways. Whatever the controversy, studies have sought links between qigong and many health effects. A pilot study published in 2014 examined its effects on blood flow in breast cancer survivors and found that while it may potentially reduce cancer therapy side-effects, those results could possibly be only temporary. Research from 2013 found that qigong could improve the physiological health of COPD patients. Finally, an additional study published in 2013 concluded that a specific form of qigong that involved laughter was a cost-effective means of reducing stress in adolescents.



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