How do I Learn Qigong?

Heather Phillips

Traditionally, learning qigong requires a master-and-student setting. Qigong encompasses many systems of physical and mental exercise, such as stretching, slow movements, and meditation. All of these have the goal of properly circulating qi, or vital energy, within a person’s body. As this form of Chinese exercise and healing has gained acceptance in the West, many classes, books, DVDs, and online videos have become available, making it easier to begin qigong instruction.

Woman doing yoga
Woman doing yoga

Many people who wish to learn qigong take a tai chi class. Tai chi, or taijiquan — the more historically accurate name — is a form of qigong that has its roots in the martial arts tradition. A typical tai chi class in the West focuses on proper breathing techniques, slow movements, active meditation. The combination of these techniques, in the discipline, are called forms. These are simply strings of movement, breath, and focus put into a certain order, to discipline the body and mind.

When a person wants to learn qigong, it is important for him to decide what his goal is. This is because there are many kinds of qigong, and each has different purposes. Some forms are done because they are said to have a healing effect on the body. Others are chosen for spiritual reasons. Still others, such as tai chi and baguazhaun, are practiced as martial arts.

Once a person has decided what he wants to accomplish by learning qigong, he might want to start by searching for introductory video clips on the Internet. These will give an indication of what the practice is. Some even offer step-by-step instructions on breathing and technique, so a person can get a understanding for what is it like to learn qigong, without investing time and money in a class.

Another option to consider is purchasing DVDs. Often these instructional videos will focus on a specific beneficial aspect of qigong. For example, if a person wants to learn qigong to relieve stress, he could look for that type of DVD. Other subjects of focus can include enhancing flexibility or meditative exercise.

If a person wants to systematically learn qigong, he will benefit most by seeking out a qualified instructor and taking classes. An instructor can demonstrate proper breathing and positioning, and work directly with the student to help him achieve proper posture and movement. Such classes can be a way to get a good foundation for further training, because qigong can be a lifelong physical, mental, and spiritual discipline.

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