Let’s start with some definitions which may shed some light into why Yong Yoga has elements of Qigong integrated deeply into our philosophy and practice.
Qi (character on left) is often translated as life energy
- energy circulating through the body
- universal energy (version of TAO), including heat, light, and electromagnetic energy
- also involve breath, air, gas, or the relationship between matter, energy, and spirit
- Qi is the central underlying principle in creation process, TCM, martial arts, Chinese speech (weather, luck..)
Gong (character on left) is often translated as
- cultivation or work
- include practice, skill, mastery, merit, achievement, service, result, or accomplishment e.g. Kung-Fu
The two words combined to describe systems to cultivate and balance life energy, especially for health. The term qigong as currently used was promoted in the late 1940s through the 1950s to refer to a broad range of Chinese self-cultivation exercises, and to emphasize health and scientific approaches, while de-emphasizing spiritual practices, mysticism, and lineages.
By definition, all living beings including plants and animals have Qi (or Prana) circulating within them
So Qigong in practice refers to
- comprises a diverse set of practices to coordinate body (調身), breath (調息), mind (調心)
- include moving + still meditation, massage, chanting, sound meditation, and non-contact treatments, performed in a broad array of body postures
- Qigong is commonly classified into two foundational categories
- dynamic or active qigong (dong gong) ~ slow flowing movement
- meditative or passive qigong (jing gong) ~ still positions + inner movement of breath for self cultivation
“Qi Gong is essentially a philosophy for living life with mindfulness, creating an awareness of the present that leads to better understanding of ourselves, others, and the world in which we live….. It is the bridge that brings us back into harmony with nature and with practice, Qi Gong is as large as the universe and full of surprises.“~ Master Liu He
Similarities between Qigong & Yoga
- Mapping of energy centers/pathways in Yoga and Qigong are extremely similar with some of the them almost identical. Just the names and descriptions differ due to language and other anthropological differences between India and China. See diagram below
- Physical postures are also similar…. uncannily so as evident from ancient evidence (below). Even in modern day, both Qigong and Yoga practices continue to retain a large amount of animal mimicry as an observation and respect of nature.
- Beyond energy maps and postures, both traditions places huge emphasis on breathing. Both practices point to mindful, slow, unhurried breathing techniques which should be maintained throughout, in order to better connect body, mind and emotions. Breathing is the underlying essence for both, with Yogic pranayama and Qigong daoyin having the abilities to heal us physically and also at a much deeper level of our existence. Without proper breathing, both routines becomes just superficial workout exercises
- The definition of an ideal body in both methods is almost a direct match too. In yoga, an ideal body is soft at rest, hard in action, fosters balanced growth. It is highly flexible, so relaxed in action and energy efficien possessing a tranquil mind and clear thoughts. In Qigong, the ideal body is described as “Be like water & willow tree, yet be rooted”, “to step with lightness & agility, move with power”, “going with the flow, yet be grounded”, an embodiment of both movement and stillness in action i.e. 动静
- Finally both traditions seek to gain better clarity about life at a deeper mental and non-physical level, looking to give us insights into the non dual nature of existence and our harmony with nature and the divine.
One with all Existence
Summarizing the discussion, both Yoga and QiGong share more similarities than explicit differences (which we might explore in a future blog). Both employs techniques, direct and indirect for cultivating inner awareness and there is now growing demand for practices which combine both as evident by the variety of Qigong classes available these days.
Future research areas for Yong Yoga
- Transmission of Buddhism to China. Extent of yogic influences shaping the development of Qi-Gong
- Development of new flow postures which combine wisdom & essence of both traditions without the drawbacks of modern “fusion”