Qigong (also spelled ‘chi kung’) can roughly be translated as internal energy cultivation. It is a form of exercise that combines movement, breath and the direction of the mind that dates back more than 4,000 years. A major goal of qigong is the development of the nervous system, which is why it tends to be misunderstood when compared to conventional Western exercise. Typical outcomes from qigong training include improved health and strength, greater freedom of movement, tranquility, patience and happiness.
There are many different types of qigong though they can be broadly divided into three different categories; medical qigong, martial qigong and spiritual qigong. Medical qigong aims to help the body heal itself, martial qigong focuses on developing power whilst spiritual qigong aims to develop awareness and tranquility. A good example of medical qigong is the eight treasures qigong (also known as the eight pieces of brocade), an easy to learn set of eight exercises. Tai chi was originally created as a form of martial qigong, though these days it is practiced mainly for its health benefits.