Qigong is a practice that integrates physical postures, breathing techniques and focused intention, with the result of experiencing and using the movement of Qi both internal and external to the body.

The word Qigong (Chi Kung) is made up of two Chinese words. Qi is pronounced "chee" and is often translated to mean life force or vital-energy that flows through all things in the universe. However, it could also mean, for example, "unknown factors", or  " the steam that rises from a pot of rice when it is cooked". The second word, Gong, pronounced "gung" or "kung", means accomplishment and skill that is cultivated through regular continuous practice over time. Together, Qigong (Chi Kung) can be taken to mean cultivating ones energy, and is a system of integration of physical postures, breathing techniques, and focused intentions, usually practiced for health maintenance, healing and increasing vitality, sometimes for Martial and other purposes.

Qigong practices can be loosely classified as martial, medical, or spiritual. All styles have three things in common: they all involve a posture, (whether moving or stationary), breathing techniques, and mental focus. Some practices increase the Qi; others circulate it, use it to cleanse and heal the body, store it, or emit Qi to help heal others. Martial Practices vary from the soft internal styles such as Tai Chi; to the external, vigorous styles such as Kung Fu or Iron Shirt. 

Qigong is  a highly effective health care practice, and nowadays many health care professionals recommend Qigong as an important form of alternative complementary medicine.

Qigong creates an awareness of and influences dimensions of our being that are not part of traditional exercise programs. Most conventional or western exercises do not involve the meridian system used in acupuncture: nor do they emphasize the importance of coordinating mind intent with physical movements and breathing techniques, which exponentially increases the effects of the exercises.

Those who maintain a consistent practice of Qigong find that it helps one regain a youthful vitality, maintain health even into old age and helps speed recovery from illness. Western scientific research confirms that Qigong reduces hypertension and the incidence of falling in the aged population. One of the more important long-term effects is that Qigong re-establishes the body/mind/soul connection.

People can do Qigong to maintain health, heal their bodies, calm their minds, and reconnect with their spirit.

When these three aspects of our being are integrated, it encourages a positive outlook on life and helps eliminate harmful attitudes and behaviors. It also creates a balanced life style, which brings greater harmony, stability, and enjoyment

There are a wide variety of Qigong practices. They vary from the simple, internal forms to the more complex and challenging external styles. They can interest and benefit everyone, from the most physically challenged to the super athlete. There are Qigong classes for children, senior citizens, and every age group in between. Since Qigong can be practiced anywhere or at any time, there is no need to buy special clothing or to join a health club.

Qigong's great appeal is that everyone can benefit, regardless of ability, age, belief system or life circumstances.

Anyone can enrich their lives by adding Qigong to their daily routine. Children learning to channel their energy and develop increased concentration; office workers learning Qigong to reduce stress; seniors participating in gentle movements to enhance balance and their quality of life; caregivers embracing a practice to develop their ability to help others; prisons instituting Qigong programs to restore balance in inmates lives; midwives using Qigong techniques to ease child birth.

When an individual or group assumes responsibility and takes action for their health and healing, we all benefit. It is best to get referrals from people whose judgment you have confidence in. 

When choosing an instructor, bear in mind the following criteria: what is their background and experience; are they of good character; do they treat everyone fairly and with respect; do they live what they teach; do they refrain from making wild, unsubstantiated claims; do they encourage and bring out a student's greater potential?  

While keeping these points in mind, remember to trust your intuition in finding an instructor who is right for you. 

Beware of Internet gurus who may not have the experience or knowledge that they lay claim to. 

Beware of "Masters" a title often taken, but rarely worthy unless freely given by others.

Find a style you feel comfortable with, and develop a consistent daily practice.