is an aspect of Chinese medicine involving the coordination
of different breathing patterns with various physical
postures and motions of the body. Qigong is mostly
taught for health maintenance purposes, but there
are also some who teach it as a therapeutic intervention.
Various forms of traditional qigong are also widely
taught in conjunction with Chinese martial arts, and
are especially prevalent in the advanced training
of what are known as the Neijia (Chinese: ??; Pinyin:
nči ji-a; Wade-Giles: nei4 chia1), or internal martial
arts. There are currently more than 3,300 different
styles and schools of qigong. Qigong
relies on the traditional Chinese belief that the
body has an energy field generated and maintained
by the natural respiration of the body, known as qi
(this is analagous to Prana and Pranayama in Yoga).
Qi means breath or gas in Mandarin Chinese, and, by
extension, the energy produced by breathing that keeps
us alive; gong means work or technique. Qigong is
then "breath work" or the art of managing the breath
to achieve and maintain good health, and especially
in the martial arts, to enhance the energy mobilization
and stamina of the body in coordination with the physical
process of respiration. Attitudes toward the basis
of qigong vary markedly.
Most Western medical practitioners, many practitioners
of traditional Chinese medicine, as well as the Chinese
government view qigong as a set of breathing and movement
exercises, with possible benefits to health through
stress reduction and exercise. Others see qigong in
more metaphysical terms, claiming that breathing and
movement exercises can influence the fundamental forces
of the universe.