Qigong or 气功

“our body is an instrument between earth and sky, where we may seed our heart’s intentions – what we sow, grows. amidst the flow there is a place of balance, and within that balance, peace”– a quote paraphrased from a dear friend, Yoke

By Diana Ng

My first taichi/qigong experience was on the rooftop of Bras Basah Complex back in 2007- each week, we gathered in the cool evening air in this urban valley surrounded by skyscrapers, to practise different animal and standing forms. Despite growing up Chinese here in Singapore, I had always relegated these traditional movement practices to the realm of “what older people do” and had actually been brought here by a dear friend from the UK! We did not seem to be doing very much at all and there were no explanations given, but at the end of the first session, my body felt alive and surprisingly warm – I was intrigued. 

气功 or qigong, refers to “life force energy” and “cultivation, obtaining, or doing” – so it is a practice that is ultimately about our intentional cultivation of energy. There are countless forms of qigong that have evolved – more martial forms, competition styles, static forms or dynamic practices. Over the years having exploring the more structured forms of the 24-step taijiquan to the more dynamic 5-element animal form qigong, I’ve felt the most resonance with qigong practices where we spend time connecting in with the energetics of the practice, and also supporting the mind in understanding why we practise the way we do. This makes the practice a unification of body and mind where neither the yang of the mind or the yin of the body is negated. 

Qigong offers us firstly the opportunity to practise taking our place in the world- upright and in our dignity. Second, it is an invitation to come into our being-ness without resistance or over-exertion. Third, with qigong we actively invite our intention to infuse our movements, transforming a practice from one that is physical to energetic. It is a powerful practice of cultivating body-mind-spirit, to come back to centre and as in the opening quote, to return to the infinite peace residing within.  

Qigong’s benefits can be understood at multiple levels. At the physical level, the standing stances encourage the building of strength in our legs and through ongoing practice, support the optimum alignment of our body in relation to gravity. At an emotional and mental level, the slow and repetitive movements invite a calming of the breath, our nervous system and our mind. Finally, at the energetic level, the flow of energy through our whole subtle body is supported so our field is invigorated and more resilient. 

Qigong is a practice for life– an evolving process of moving more gracefully and effortlessly through the forms, but also in all areas of our life.