Qigong Meditation: For Beginners, Techniques, Benefits, and More (2023)

Qigong meditation is an ancient Chinese healing practice that combines controlled breathing, gentle movement, and meditation to promote good mental, physical, and spiritual health.

Similar to tai chi, qigong meditation is believed to treat a variety of health conditions, including high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, chronic fatigue, insomnia, and leg and back pain, among others. Yet, research backing these claims is limited.

With qigong meditation growing in popularity, you may wonder whether it’s something you should try.

Qigong Meditation: For Beginners, Techniques, Benefits, and More (1)Share on Pinterest

Qigong (pronounced “chee-gong”) meditation is an ancient Chinese healing practice that combines meditation, controlled breathing, and gentle movement.

It’s roughly translated as “the master of one’s energy” and combines two important concepts of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Qi roughly translates to “vital life force,” while gong means mastery or cultivation (1, 2).

This practice is meant to cultivate the energy and strength of nature into one’s body to promote better mental, physical, and spiritual health (1, 2).

In TCM, poor health is the result of blocked energy that flows through the twelve meridians – or sections – of the body. Thus, qigong is believed to promote health by allowing your energy, or qi, to flow through the body (1, 2).

Qigong is popular in China for exercise, recreation, relaxation, preventative medicine, and physical and mental healing. Plus, it’s even employed in martial arts training. Despite its widespread use, research to support the theory of qi energy is lacking (2).

Summary

Qigong (pronounced “chee-gong”) is a traditional Chinese medicine healing practice that’s believed to support mental, physical, and spiritual health through gentle movement, meditation, and breathing techniques.

(Video) 20 Minute Qigong Daily Routine for Healing and Strengthening Body

While there are many ways to practice qigong, there are two main categories: active (dynamic) qigong and passive qigong. Active qigong uses controlled, slow movements, while passive qigong involves stillness and calm breathing.

Qigong can also be practiced internally (by yourself) or externally (via a qigong therapist). With external qigong, a therapist provides “emitted” qi to promote healing. Though, for most people, qigong is a self-healing technique that’s practiced without a therapist (1).

Regardless of the form of qigong, the goal is to allow energy to freely move throughout the body and reconnect with the earth for healing (1).

Active (dynamic) qigong

Active qigong – also known as dong gong – involves intentional, active movement and breathwork that enhances yang energy. In TCM, yang represents active energy, strength, and vibrancy, while yin depicts passive energy, calmness, and gentleness (1).

It includes repeating gentle, coordinated movements to promote blood and lymphatic drainage, balance, muscle strength and flexibility, and a greater awareness of one’s body in space (known as proprioception) (3).

This type of qigong is considered exercise but shares mutual characteristics with passive qigong, such as good posture, controlled breathing, focus on relaxation, and visualization.

Passive qigong

Passive qigong focuses on embracing yin energy through body stillness and the mental cultivation of qi energy (1).

During this form of qigong, the body is not moving externally, but the mind is actively working to cultivate and move qi energy throughout the body. This practice would be similar to traditional meditation.

Summary

The two main categories of qigong include active and passive qigong. Active qigong uses controlled, slow movements to help energy – or qi – flow through the meridians of the body, while passive qigong involves stillness and calm breathing.

Qigong offers many benefits. Some of them are backed by research, including improved balance and gait, as well as reduced stress levels.

Other purported benefits include a lower risk of chronic disease and improved focus.

Increased balance

Qigong focuses on controlled, slow movements of the body to improve your proprioception, or awareness of your body in space, which helps increase balance, muscular strength, and flexibility (3).

In a 2020 study in 95 adults ages 51–96, participants that practiced weekly qigong for 12 weeks had significant improvements in balance and gait (walking) scores (4).

Interestingly, qigong can also improve balance in younger adults. One randomized pilot study in 30 people ages 18–25 showed a 16.3% increase in stability scores after weekly qigong for 8 weeks. No changes were observed in the control group (5).

Considering that all age groups can safely participate in qigong, it may be an effective and enjoyable strategy to improve balance and lower the risk of falls.

Lower stress and anxiety

Qigong involves meditation, controlled breathing, and gentle movements, all of which have all been shown to help lower stress and symptoms of anxiety (6, 7, 8, 9).

Calm, controlled breathing tells your body there’s no immediate threat and activates the parasympathetic nervous system — the “rest and digest” system. It also slows your body’s stress response system known as the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis (9, 10).

Also, incorporating qigong into one’s daily or weekly practice has been linked to greater quality of life due to less stress, greater self-efficacy, and better physical health. Still, higher quality studies are needed (11, 12, 13, 14).

By incorporating qigong into your weekly or daily routine, it may help you better manage the daily stressors of life (15).

May lower risk of chronic disease

Qigong is a gentle form of exercise and emphasizes calm, meditative breathing. Together, this may reduce stress on the body, increase blood flow, and improve your overall fitness — all of which can lower your risk of chronic disease (16, 17).

(Video) What Are The Benefits Of Qigong ? | Qigong for Beginners ( Short Teaching )

In particular, qigong has been shown to lower the risk and improve symptoms of type 2 diabetes and heart disease (18, 19, 20, 21).

Still, researchers urge that larger, more robust studies are needed before qigong can be recommended as a standard treatment.

That said, most people can safely practice it in addition to their current medical treatments prescribed by their healthcare provider (21, 22).

May improve focus

Many people struggle to focus on tasks due to the busyness of day-to-day life.

Qigong requires focus of the breath, mind, and body. Through regular practice, qigong may help improve your ability to focus and concentrate by helping you learn to regulate thoughts in a more productive manner (23).

Despite the many benefits of qigong, higher quality research studies are needed.

Summary

The benefits of qigong include improved balance, greater mental focus, lower levels of stress and anxiety, and decreased chronic disease risk. Though many people report the benefits of qigong, larger studies are needed.

(Video) 10 Minutes Guided Qi Gong Breathing Meditation to Enhance Body's Capacity to Breathe 🍀

There are dozens of variations of qigong. To get started, here’s a basic guide for passive and active qigong. However, before beginning any new exercise routine, it’s best to speak with your healthcare provider.

Passive qigong

Passive qigong is very similar to traditional meditation. Two main types of passive qigong exist: mental focusing (ru jing) and visualization (cun si).

To practice mental focusing, simply sit in a comfortable upright position, close your eyes, and breathe in and out with your belly (diaphragmatic breathing). Ideally, try to sit for at least 10 minutes or longer and focus on your breath.

(Video) 20 Minute Qigong Daily Routine For Heart and Lungs

Visualization involves a similar practice but with added imagination. With your eyes closed, imagine things that bring you joy or relaxation (e.g., the beach, a flower-filled valley, a mountaintop). Use these visualizations to help direct positive energy throughout your body.

You may also visualize energy going toward an organ or area in the body that requires healing. To enhance your practice, attend classes or read qigong guides to learn chants, visualizations, and other meditative techniques.

If you’re unsure where to start, there are many free meditation videos online, or you can download meditation apps on your phone.

Active qigong

The goal of active qigong is to continuously keep your body in flow. Unlike yoga, which generally focuses on static stretches, active qigong requires you to keep your body moving through various movement sequences.

Since qigong involves a sequence of movements, it’s best to start with a beginner’s class or online video. Ideally, active qigong is practiced in a group setting to promote connectedness and community, which TCM believes is important for health and healing.

With either passive or active qigong, remember to practice patience while you learn and enjoy the process.

Summary

When learning active qigong, it’s best to visit an in-person class to learn the sequences correctly and build a sense of community. You can also watch beginner videos online. For passive qigong, try adding 10 minutes of meditation per day to your routine.

Qigong is a meditation and healing practice that has been part of traditional Chinese medicine for centuries.

Benefits of qigong include lowered stress and anxiety, increased focus, and improved balance and flexibility. It may even reduce your risk of certain chronic diseases. Nevertheless, more high quality research is needed.

Most forms of qigong can be practiced by people of all age groups and conditions. However, if you have a chronic illness or injury, it’s best to speak with your healthcare provider before introducing any new form of exercise to your regimen.

(Video) "Most Important" Qigong Exercise for Beginners

If you’re interested in calming your mind and body, you will want to give qigong a try.

FAQs

What are at least 3 benefits of Qigong? ›

Practicing qigong may improve fitness, reduce anxiety and depression, lower blood pressure, relieve chronic pain, strengthen the immune and respiratory systems, and improve overall well-being.

What are the benefits of doing Qigong? ›

Benefits of qigong include lowered stress and anxiety, increased focus, and improved balance and flexibility. It may even reduce your risk of certain chronic diseases. Nevertheless, more high quality research is needed. Most forms of qigong can be practiced by people of all age groups and conditions.

What happens to your body when you do Qigong? ›

One study found that qigong could reduce symptoms of depression. In this study, those who practiced qigong also experienced less anxiety and better moods as compared to those who didn't. Qigong was also shown to have positive effects on bone and cardiovascular health and improve balance.

Can you learn Qigong by yourself? ›

Yes! So long as you tune into your breath and have a place to meditate, Qigong can be practiced anywhere, at home or outside, which makes it perfect for online learning.

What are the 5 types of Qigong? ›

Over time, five distinct traditions or schools of qigong developed in China, each with its own theories and characteristics: Chinese Medical Qigong, Daoist Qigong, Buddhist Qigong, Confucian Qigong, and Martial Qigong. All of these qigong traditions include practices intended to cultivate and balance qi.

How long does Qigong take to work? ›

People with fibromyalgia who did diligent qigong practice—30 to 40 minutes daily for 6 to 8 weeks—experienced consistent benefits in pain, sleep, and physical and mental function. These benefits were still seen 4 to 6 months after the studies had completed.

Is it good to do qigong everyday? ›

While some exercises, such as running or working out, are best to do every other day, qi gong should be practiced daily for best results. It is often difficult to fit a long class into a daily practice which is why I like to focus on short routines.

How do you feel qi energy? ›

To try to see qi, go to a dark room and light a candle and put it behind you. Then place your hands above some black colored objects. Relax your whole body and most importantly you mind and fingers. Then slowly, you should be able to see the qi energy coming out from your fingertips.

How do you feel after qigong? ›

"Qigong connects the mind and body, and as you do Qigong, you can feel certain areas in your body that are tight or constricted begin to soften and unblock," she says. "The relaxing of muscle and tension in combination with breath work will have you feeling more relaxed and calm."

What is the best time to do Qigong? ›

Ideally, qigong should be practiced early in the morning at sunrise. If you practice more than once during the day, the next best time is at sunset to close out the day.

Which is better yoga or Qigong? ›

So, if you have a specific health issue you want to focus on, qigong is probably the best form of movement for you. But if you want to improve your overall balance and strength, tai chi and yoga are better choices. Yoga and tai chi are a little more fitness-focused than qigong, according to Araujo.

How do I start growing qi? ›

Qi Gong - Energy Cultivation Set (30 Minutes) - YouTube

Is Qigong enough exercise? ›

Although qi gong and tai chi are excellent fitness activities for beginners and people with health conditions, elite athletes also benefit from doing the slow movements, because everyone needs better balance and muscle control.

How many types of qigong are there? ›

There are two types of Qigong practice: Wai Dan (External Elixir) involves physical movement and concentration. Nei Dan (Internal Elixir) involves sitting meditation and guided imagery or visualization.

Can you do qigong after eating? ›

Some of the basics of Digestive Qigong. – Feel free to do this practice before and/or after each meal or at anytime during the day where your digestion feels stuck or you are having discomfort, to help with stimulating digestion. And you do not need to be experiencing digestive problems to practice it.

Which is better tai chi or qigong? ›

T'ai chi is generally more complex

T'ai chi forms involve a series of many moves. One t'ai chi form can take months to learn and a lifetime to master. Qigong is often one single move repeated over and over, and sometimes does not involve movement at all, but will focus only on breathing.

Should I meditate before or after qigong? ›

There is no “should:” try one way for a few sessions, then try the other for a few. Pick the one that lets you feel better. You might even change back later on. The key is to learn to experience the sensations yourself and choose the path that works for you.

Is qigong good for back pain? ›

Researchers say mind-body exercise routines such as yoga, tai chi, and qi gong can help ease lower back pain. Experts say these exercises can strengthen the body as well as the mind.

How long should I do qigong a day? ›

How often should you practice? Five to 10 minutes daily is all you need at first to start feeling the benefits of qi gong. Of course, if you can't squeeze it in daily, you can still see some benefits. "Just breathing and moving can really make a difference," says Wasfie.

How long should qigong practice be? ›

For a beginner, 20-30 minutes a day should help you learn postures, principles, and to develop muscle memory over time. If you can't practice every day, at least 2-3 times a week will suffice, although muscle memory will take longer to develop.

Does Qigong help depression? ›

Qigong has been found to be an effective, evidence-based complementary therapy that helps teens and adolescents decrease negative mental health symptoms. Research shows that Qigong directly impacts anxiety, depression, stress, mood and self-esteem.

Is it OK to do qigong before bed? ›

If we are trying to build the yin energy – which is still, calm, peaceful, cool, and tranquil – we can practice in the evening, around 45 minutes before going to sleep.

How many times can you do qigong in a day? ›

If you are healthy and fully of vitality, then practicing once a day is probably enough. But if you're not healthy, then you need a higher dosage: The proper dosage of qigong for someone who is dealing with serious health issues is two 5-phase routines per day, once in the morning, and once in the evening or at night.

Is qigong good for the heart? ›

Tai Chi or Qigong may help. These and other types of traditional Chinese exercise appear to boost the health and well-being of people with cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure or stroke, says research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

How do I know if my chi is strong? ›

5 Ways You Know You've Found Your Chi
  1. You have learned to listen to and trust your feelings. and understand that a feeling is the ultimate way we communicate with ourselves. ...
  2. You feel connected. ...
  3. You flow. ...
  4. Experience inner strength, empowerment and peace all at once. ...
  5. Your life has a sense of purpose.
23 Aug 2021

What color is Qi energy? ›

The green frequency qi will follow the meridian pathways and carry the healing energy throughout the body. The process is repeated with the other yin organs: spleen/yellow, heart/red, lungs/white, kidneys/blue.

How do I unblock my chi? ›

How can someone regulate their qi?
  1. getting sufficient restful sleep.
  2. exercising regularly, including a practice that focuses on your breath, like yoga.
  3. maintaining healthy eating habits.
  4. taking care of your mental health.
25 Feb 2019

Why do I feel tired after qigong? ›

For many practitioners, purging negative energy from the body can lead to fatigue, nausea, soreness, or a mild headache. Some people can even feel a bit hungover after a 'heavy duty' Qi Gong workout. As mentioned, these kinds of experiences are normal during the purging process.

Does qigong strengthen bones? ›

However, weight bearing exercises have great benefit to the the bone health. This gentle, flowing Qi Gong routine strengthens the bones and supports healthy energy and deep vitality throughout the whole body.

Does qigong build muscle? ›

Results of the presented correlation analysis reveal a positive relationship between the Qigong training associated improvements in the antioxidant capacity and muscular strength enhancement while MDA levels were negatively related to strength development.

How many types of Qigong are there? ›

There are two types of Qigong practice: Wai Dan (External Elixir) involves physical movement and concentration. Nei Dan (Internal Elixir) involves sitting meditation and guided imagery or visualization.

Is Qigong good for back pain? ›

Researchers say mind-body exercise routines such as yoga, tai chi, and qi gong can help ease lower back pain. Experts say these exercises can strengthen the body as well as the mind.

Is Qigong good for the heart? ›

Tai Chi or Qigong may help. These and other types of traditional Chinese exercise appear to boost the health and well-being of people with cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure or stroke, says research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Is Qigong good for asthma? ›

Conclusion: Qigong Yangsheng is recommended for asthma patients with professional supervision. An improvement in airway capability and a decrease in illness severity can be achieved by regular self-conducted Qigong exercises.

Is there a qigong diet? ›

So the very short answer is that there is no 'qigong diet'. The longer answer is that there are principles from qigong that we can apply to our understanding of nutrition that will be valuable to us in making choices of what we should eat to obtain optimum health and vitality.

Which is better yoga or qigong? ›

So, if you have a specific health issue you want to focus on, qigong is probably the best form of movement for you. But if you want to improve your overall balance and strength, tai chi and yoga are better choices. Yoga and tai chi are a little more fitness-focused than qigong, according to Araujo.

Should I meditate before or after qigong? ›

There is no “should:” try one way for a few sessions, then try the other for a few. Pick the one that lets you feel better. You might even change back later on. The key is to learn to experience the sensations yourself and choose the path that works for you.

Does Qigong improve posture? ›

Qigong is fantastic for increasing strength, improving posture, and maintaining good circulation through the upper back, neck, and shoulders. In fact, it is a major reason why people practice Qigong. When you combine gentle movement with nice deep breathing, it can be wonderful for helping the body and the mind!

Can Qigong help sciatica? ›

Although it's not widely known in the west, it's a deeply nourishing practice that can be used to address many different ailments, including sciatica.

Does tai chi hurt? ›

It's low-impact, so it puts minimal stress on muscles and joints, which makes it generally safe for most people – no matter age or level of fitness. Tai chi is also appealing because no special equipment is needed, and it is very adaptable – it may be practiced indoors or out, alone or in a group setting.

Does Qigong lower blood pressure? ›

Compared with no intervention, qigong significantly reduced systolic blood pressure (SBP) (weighted mean difference [WMD] = −17.40 mm Hg, 95% confidence interval [CI] −21.06 to −13.74, P < 0.00001) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) (WMD = −10.15 mm Hg, 95% CI −13.99 to −6.30, P < 0.00001).

How do you increase your heart Chi? ›

Solution: Practice tai chi, qigong and meditation. Drink calming teas recommended by your herbalist. Take a deep breath before stressful thoughts overwhelm your mind. Stay motivated: Don't beat yourself up for experiencing stress.

Can Tai Chi lower cholesterol? ›

Tai Chi lowers blood pressure, total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL-C, and blood glucose and significantly increases the quality of life in adults with EH. There is strong evidence for the short-term efficacy of Tai Chi exercises.

Is Qigong good for seniors? ›

Qigong is easy to learn. This makes Qigong an ideal physical exercise for seniors. It is gentle on the joints keeping them healthy and mobile.

Can Qigong make you tired? ›

For many practitioners, purging negative energy from the body can lead to fatigue, nausea, soreness, or a mild headache. Some people can even feel a bit hungover after a 'heavy duty' Qi Gong workout. As mentioned, these kinds of experiences are normal during the purging process.

Can Qigong cure diabetes? ›

Qigong therapy for 12 weeks resulted in significant reductions in fasting glucose levels in patients with type 2 diabetes and demonstrated trends toward improvement in insulin resistance and A1C. These results suggest that Qigong may be an effective complementary therapy for individuals with type 2 diabetes.

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