What is Qigong?
Alternative spellings: Ch'i Kung, Chi Gung
"Qi," or life energy
"Gong," the study or work
Qigong is a contemplative movement system that is one of the main branches of Chinese medicine. (Qigong, Nutrition, Massage, Herbs, Acupuncture). There are thousands of variations. All have at their core a study of Yin/Yang philosophy, meditation, breath, and movement and all are practiced in integrated, organized flows with the express purpose of harmonizing the body, mind and spirit with nature. Qigong provides many health benefits: more efficient internal organs function, greater cardiac fitness, stronger immune and endocrine systems, and more robust musculo-skeletal activity, to name a few.
Initially called Dao-Yin or "Pushing and Pulling," Qigong's roots are very old. Much of the historical records have been taken by time or destroyed during the Cultural Revolution so it is impossible to pin an exact time and specific location of origin. Recent archeological discoveries are helping though. Actual records of internal practices start to emerge in 400-300 BCE as poems and verses. Scholars feel confident Qigong was passed through the Oral Tradition in a very intimate way between teacher and student for many centuries before these written records. Quite likely Qigong may date back at least 5,000 – 7,000 years. History also points to Qigong's role in the evolution of Chinese medicine. These contemplative movement and breathing practices helped people to intuitively detect the meridians, the internal energy 'highways' of our bodies, and their relationship to the overall internal landscape of the body.
No matter the historical context, one can imagine staying healthy was not easy. Disease could be rampant and nutrition sketchy. People then as now were called to explore ways to mitigate their maladies. The teachers of that time however were not Universities and Medical Centers but animals and nature. And so people deeply observed and imitated their fellow animals and all of nature around them. They discovered ways to improve their health and live longer. Different families refined and deepened their discoveries into clear systems, and these would be passed from generation to generation thus enhancing the health and longevity of the family lines. As Qigong and societies evolved the various systems became categorized into five primary groups: Medical, Buddhist, Taoist, Confucian and Martial.
Though suffering a great deal during the Cultural Revolution and having to retreat from the public domain, Qigong is re-emerging as a cultural jewel and thankfully the many systems and practices remain robust and vital. The scientific benefits of Qigong have been studied in China for decades and the positive findings are now coming under equally positive scrutiny in Europe and the West.
Embrace The Moon features several specific forms of Qigong on an ongoing basis. These Qigong have been specifically chosen by Kimberly Ivy for their accessibility, interesting choreography and great health benefits, especially for muscles, tendons, balance and relaxation through alignment. They are all considered "medical qigong." Qigong classes include form instruction, correction and practice. You may find Qigong sets are simpler to learn and easier to practice than Taijiquan; Qigong is often an excellent choice if someone has little time right now to devote to practice or has some serious health concerns they wish to address. Most Qigong classes have students with all levels of experience in them. You will find a 20 year practitioner training next to a first day student. There is no need to feel compelled to learn several forms. There is no competition. You will find even one form, practiced for a few minutes a day yet carried with you through your entire life, will bring you improved health, mental stability and great enjoyment. Kimberly Ivy has received extensive training over 30 years in many different Qigong forms and systems. All of the Embrace The Moon Instructors are certified in the forms they teach and are highly competent in working with people who have special health and fitness needs.
The Hands of the 18 Luohan
The Luohan Gong is a profound, ancient, and rich historical system of health and spiritual cultivation. The system dates to approximately 527 AD, when Bodhidharma, the founder of Zen (Ch'ang) Buddhism, created the foundation form, The Hands of 18 Luohan, as a way of strengthening his disciples (the monks who later became the monks of the Shaolin Temple) for the physical and spiritual rigors of seated meditation. The system evolved over time to include two other aspects: the Siu Luohan, (pron. sue low-han) or “small’ Luohan), the Dai Luohan (pron. die low-han, - or “big” Luohan). The entire system combines learning from Indian and Chinese sources, observations of nature and animal behavior, as well as Bodhidharma's intuition and insight. The Hands of the 18 Luohan is the historical bridge form between Yoga and Qigong and historically noted as the “blueprint” for Kung Fu.
Embrace The Moon is one of the few schools in the country offering instruction in the Luohan Gong System. It is a delightfully challenging system of Qigong and a bit more athletic than most forms of Qigong. That being said, some of our most skilled Luohan practitioners are well into their 70's and some of our beginners are in their 80s! Age Well!
Yi Jin Xi Sui Jing Classic
(Muscle Tendon Changing, Bone Marrow Washing Classic Qigong)
Yi Jin Xi Sui Jing Classic Qigong set is one of the oldest traceable Qigong forms. For over 2000 years, the 12 gentle movements have been practiced for muscle and tendon strength and flexibility, for general circulation of blood and Qi, and to calm and prepare both mind and body for meditation and spiritual development. The movements also tonify the internal organs and strengthen one's overall posture and constitution. As with many Qigong forms, the movements are based on nature (Pick Stars & Replace the Dipper) and animals (Blue Dragon Outstretches Claws) and is a beautiful and graceful form of exercise to practice. Though people of all ages and fitness levels practice this form, it is one of the forms that is highly recommended for people with special health concerns and limited mobility.
Soaring Crane Qigong
Soaring Crane Qigong is an elegant, peaceful form that is one of the most famous in China for its overall healing capabilities. For over 20 years it was the single most practiced Qigong form. There are many individual reports that this form is successful as a complementary method in treating cancer and other serious illnesses. Still practiced by over 20 million people in China, as well as millions more throughout the world, the benefits of Soaring Crane are an overall energetic balance, greatly improved physical health and an accompanied liveliness of spirit. Study Soaring Crane at Embrace The Moon if you want a medically based Qigong form, if you are new to Qigong and wish to gain a clear theoretical & physical understanding of basic Chinese medicine, and if you wish to have a practice that methodically develops mindfulness and intent. Though people of all ages and fitness levels practice this form, it is one of the forms that is highly recommended for people with special health concerns and limited mobility.
The Ba Duan Jin (Eight Treasures) Qigong
For nearly a thousand years, Eight Treasures Qigong has been passed down to maintain overall health and increase vitality. There are many versions of this form, but all rely on the same basic principles and theory of Qigong practice. The Eight Treasures is effective in building up energy throughout the body, and particularly in the limbs, where it will then flow into and circulate to support the internal organs. It thoroughly works all the energy channels in the body in a precise and effortless way. Practitioners of the Eight Treasures will enjoy the gentle stretching and twisting movements to release and relax the entire body, to increase blood and energy circulation and to strengthen their internal organs. The best thing about the Eight Treasures however, is that it is very simple to learn, easy to practice and good for you!
Essence Qigong is one of the many modern forms of Qigong. It was developed about 35 years ago by Chen, Fu-yin as a method for practicing and experiencing the ‘essential’ characteristics of all categories of Qigong: Medical, Martial, Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian. It is delightfully simple and restorative and is very good for those wishing a deeply meditative and intuitive approach to their practice. Practicing Essence Qigong is like taking an internal bath. It purifies your meridians, nourishes your internal organs, tonifies qi and opens spiritual centers. Though people of all ages and fitness levels practice this form, it is one of the forms that is highly recommended for people with special health concerns and limited mobility.
Other Qigong Sets
You will find other Qigong movements and sets integrated throughout the year and within various classes and workshop.
- Hun Yuan Gong Qigong
- San Jiao Qigong
- Yin Yang Pole
- Kai Men (Gate Opening) Qigong
- Yin Yang Walking Qigong
- Jade Body Qigong
- Lotus Qigong
- Dragon Qigong
- Thousand Hands Buddha Qigong