Qigong (or ch’i kung) is an internal Chinese meditative practice that often uses slow graceful movements and controlled breathing techniques to promote the circulation of qi within the human body, and enhance a practitioner’s overall health.
There are also many forms of qigong that are done with little or no movement at all, in standing, sitting and supine positions; likewise, not all forms of qigong use breath control techniques.
In its simplest form, the Chinese character for qi, in qigong, can mean air, breath, or “life force”. Gong means work, so qigong is therefore the practice of “working” with one’s “life force”.
The term was not widely known until the 1970s during a period some call the “Qigong Wave” where groups of 10,000-40,000 people regularly gathered inside Chinese stadiums to practice qigong together.
Some in the Chinese government became concerned that what they saw as a quasi religious/political group (see Falun Dafa or Falun Gong) who practiced a qigong form of their own, might turn into a political weapon, and in 1999, banned all large qigong gatherings.
Currently there is a movement underway in China, Europe and the United States to preserve the valuable aspects of these traditional Chinese practices and to have them studied using Western scientific methods.
Attitudes toward a scientific basis for qigong vary markedly. Most Western medical practitioners and 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.
Other practitioners view qigong in more metaphysical terms, claiming that qi can be felt as a vibration or electrical current and physically circulated through channels called meridians. Many testify to a reduction or elimination of pain through the use of qigong.
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Information courtesy of wikipedia