Traditional Chineese Medicine - TCM

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Chi Gong / Chi Kung / Qigong
There is more to medicine than simple chemistry. In TCM, the doctor is a teacher as well as a healer.

Note : There are varying spellings of Qigong that have been used in the process of converting the pictorial Chinese language into the Romanized characters used in the West. As a result you will often see the word ‘Qi’ spelt as ‘Chi’ and the word ‘Gong’ spelt as Kung, using the old Wade Giles system. The more modern Pinyin system joins the two words together to create ‘Qigong’.
Qigong is a very general term refering to any of hundreds of Chinese breathing exercises. Qigong is yet another method of relaxation, but is also a very potent method of improving and maintaining internal healthiness. A practitioner of qigong should eventually be able to prevent/cure disease, strengthen internal organs, and focus the mind. There are many and various types of qigong, including individual and group forms.

Qigong (pronounced as 'chee gung') is a household name in China associated witha broad range of mental and physical exercises generally regarded as beneficial to health maintenance and health improvement and practiced by over 100 million people. It is related to martial arts, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Chinese culture in general. Qigong was widely presented to the American public in Bill Moyers's 1993 WNET TV series "Healing and The Mind." The Mystery of Chi

Qigong is a modern word. Developed by the Chineese Communists following WWII. On March 3, 1949 “Qigong” was proclaimed as the official name for the health exercises that Liu Guizhen and his group had developed.

Those exercises were a modernization and secularization of a secret Buddhist tradition called Neiyang gong (“Discipline of Inner Cultivation” ). Spiritual mantras were changed into secular aphorisms. For example, the former Buddhist “The Claw of the Golden Dragon Sitting in Meditation in the Chan Chamber” became “I Practice Sitting Meditation for Better Health.”) Similarly, the name Neiyang gong, was a giveaway to its religious roots, hence a new name was needed. This is the simplified and secularized system of Qigong known in the West today.

Qi (Chi)

Qigong works by strengthening the functions of the body and regulating the flow of Qi (pronounced ‘Chee’) or life force energy, drawing in energy from external sources and enhancing that which already exists within and seeking to restore the flow of Qi to its natural state.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) it is believed that the blood follows the Qi and that the natural flow of Qi around the body through a series of pathways or ‘meridians’ helps stimulate and encourage the circulation of blood and fluids.

Blockages can be formed throughout our meridians (energy pathways) by many factors including stress, improper diet, lack of exercise, pollution and other environmental toxins. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) philosophy, when Qi and blood are circulating freely, then illness and disease are not present

Dantian - an explanation

The place below the navel is called the “dantian”, meaning “cinnabar farm”. This needs to be explained: Cinnabar (red mercuric sulfide crystals) although toxic and poisonous were ingested by the ancient Chinese in their search for immortality. So here “dantian” actually means, “The place where long life is cultivated.”

The dantian is usually located 1.5 cm (the width of two forefingers) below the navel at the acupuncture point CV-6, the qihai—“Sea of Qi.”

The difficulty in visualization here is the dantian is usually located below and underneath the navel, right in the center of the lower abdomen, inside the abdomen, and not on it.

Nevertheless, wherever it is visualized, bringing the mind to the dantian brings about positive results.

Yan Xin Qigong

Yan Xin Qigong is a qigong that was developed from traditional Chinese qigongs by Dr. Yan Xin. Dr. Yan Xin is one of the most popular qigong masters in both China and the United States and is often credited with achieving seemingly "miraculous" feats. In addition to many healings he has participated in scientific experiments some of which are presented in this paper in the Literature Review chapter. Unlike many qigongs, Yan Xin qigong's Nine Step Child Longevity method utilizes an audio tape to accompany training that consists of Dr. Yan Xin instructing the proper steps and methods to take in entering the "qigong state."

In very broad terms, Yan Xin Qigong has two stages. The most important one called "cultivation of virtue" involves the development of a positive attitude in general. The other stage is the "concentrated practice." The practice method used is the "Nine steps child longevity method" where the practitioner is usually seated in a specific posture while breathing and visualizing a series of images described by a tape with the voice of Dr. Yan Xin (in chinese) and simultaneous English translation. After 3 months of regular group practice people are allowed to buy the tape ($10). Brief pamphlets are also available for purchase to those interested. Books can be borrowed by people who join the International Yan Xin Qigong Science Association.

Yan Xin Qigong definitions

Qigong (Chee-gung): A form of meditation and cultivation practice that is very popular in China. It is a holistic method for healing the body and the mind as well as for promoting the human potential. There are some similarities among qigong, tai-chi, martial arts, transcendental meditation, yoga, and zen. However, the true concept of qigong is beyond simple meditation.

Qi: A Chinese character which means air, atmosphere, vapor, and gas such as oxygen. In qigong and traditional Chinese medicine, qi has a broader meaning, involving intangible substances and abstract concepts, and is considered to exist as an energy field in myriad of things.

De: A Chinese character which literally means virtue and morality. De is a grounding concept in all qigong practice and cultivation. To make progress in and to keep the benefits of qigong practice, it is crucial to always hold the a moral standard.

External Qi: Well trained qigong masters and practitioners can emit qi to others through special ways. Usually, this type of qi is very productive in qigong therapy and qigong training.

Internal Qi: Qigong practitioners are able to feel certain substances flowing inside their bodies during practice and in other situations, which help the practitioners improve qi circulation among channels and acupuncture points.

Channels or Meridians: In the view of traditional Chinese medicine, the Qi and other substances circulate inside one's body through these certain routes. Many of them originate from internal organs and end at fingers, toes, or certain acupuncture points.

Acupuncture points: Over a hundred of special points in human body that serve intricate functions and are critical in many acupuncture therapy. Many of them are located on the head and along the spine. Some examples are:

Bai Hui (accumulation) acupuncture point: located on the top of the head,
Tian Mu (heavenly eye) acupuncture point: located between the two eye brows,
Shen Que (spirit's palace) acupuncture point: located at the navel, and
Yong Quan (sprouting spring) acupuncture point: located at the center of the foot.

Opening: Almost all methods have particular opening positions to prepare the mind and the body to enter a qigong state. It is important that the opening method is followed exactly to maximize the benefits of qigong practice.

Lotus: An aquatic plant, native to southern Asia, having large leaves, fragrant, pinkish flowers, and a broad, round, perforated seed pod (The American Heritage Dictionary). The lotus flower has a long relationship to Chinese philosophy and is commonly used to symbolize virtue and morality.

Spontaneous movements and sounds: During qigong practice, some people may feel that certain parts of the body have the tendency to move or may want to make sounds. The movements can be either gentle, such as stretching arms and waving hands, over very dynamic, such as running and trembling. The sounds can be either soft, such as whispering and singing, or very loud, such as laughing or crying. These qigong reactions are usual and helpful to the practitioners and their family members. It is very important to keep good thougths and positive attitudes should such reactions occur. Follow the spontaneous reactions naturally whenever the body perceived, and do not panic. However, do not use force to intentionally induce such movements and sounds.

Thought Adjustment and Mind Cultivation: In qigong practice it is very important to keep good hopes, optimistic attitudes, considerate thoughts, benevolent wishes, etc. Constantly think of the good side of life, and forget all past regretful mistakes, unfortunate incidents, miserable experiences, and sorrowful feelings. Always forgive, pardon, understand, and sympathize other people and things, regardless of what happened in the past. Indeed, holding high virtue and morality is the fundamental principle of all qigong practice. Regarding everyone and everything as teachers and treating all as kins are criteria for thought adjustment and cultivation.

Breath Adjustment: As in all other meditation methods, qigong practice also requires suitable breathing control. Deep, long, subtle, and smooth breathing is most favorable. When, at certain point, holding the breath is needed, it is extremely advantageous to hold the breath as long as possible. Other forms of breathing can be achieved radually with systematic training.

Ending: This last part of a qigong method helps to maintain the effects of each practice. It cannot be neglected since it is an important part integrated into the method. Good results often come out during the ending procedures. It is also intended to seal the Qi energy inside the body and to protect the individual from any undesired feelings.

The Yan Xin Qigong - Child Longevity Nine Step Qigong method "tape" can be found on YouTube: Child Longevity Nine Step Qigong Note that this is a narrated tape with Dr Xin speaking in the background.

The practice method consists of listening to the tape and following along (as Dr. Yan Xin is speaking Chinese in the background, while being simultaneously translated into English on the tape, this can be quite an interesting feat for non-Chinese speakers). The reason for this is that it is believed that Dr. Yan Xin can "transmit" qi and information via his voice which helps training progress faster.

Qigong Benefits

Practitioners report improvements in their physical, mental health and spiritual health. Comments, like the one by Professor Viktoria Dalko (Penn alumni) who states that "Yan Xin Qigong has helped me overcome feelings of isolation, improve relationships with my family and friends, improve my work habits, increase my respect for my students, and learn to enjoy the present while working for a bright, harmonious future", are not unusual.

Miscelaneous Taichi Qigong resources

  • Standing Qigong
  • Pulsing Qigong
  • Rooted Free Movement
  • 3 types of Tai Chi Walking
  • 8 Essential Movements from Yang Family Tai Chi

Scientific Research


Seventy-seven articles met the inclusion criteria. The nine outcome category groupings that emerged were bone density (n = 4), cardiopulmonary effects (n = 19), physical function (n = 16), falls and related risk factors (n = 23), quality of life (n = 17), self-efficacy (n = 8), patient-reported outcomes (n = 13), psychological symptoms (n = 27), and immune function (n = 6).


Research has demonstrated consistent, significant results for a number of health benefits in RCTs, evidencing progress toward recognizing the similarity and equivalence of Qigong and Tai Chi. In order to demonstrate that Qigong goes beyond the realm of a "self-induced" placebo effect, Dr. Yan Xin has collaborated in many scientific experiments both in China and the United States. In 1999, a paper reporting measurable changes in the structure and properties of certain materials product of "external Qi emission" was published in the Material Research Innovation journal: Certain Physical Manifestation and Effects of External Qi of Yan Xin Life Science Technology.

Research at Penn
This was a trial program that took place in the Fall of 1999 and was sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania Student Health System (SHS), the Office of the Vice Provost of University Life (OVPUL) and the Yan Xin Qigong Club (YXQC) at the U. of Pennsylvania.

A total of twenty eight people registered for the five weeks seminar series, twenty actually participated , nineteen of which were present during the final session where evaluation forms were filled. Participants were encouraged to attend the practice sessions regularly held during the week. Their manifested purpose for attending the class included self healing, stress reduction, improving energy and concentration, peace of mind, improving working efficiency. Most of the respondents "agreed" or "strongly agreed" that the program was inspiring, useful, informative and well prepared and all were interested in continuing to learn and practice Yan Xin Qigong.

  Practice effects named were: "more relaxed",  "better focus", "inner-strength", "calmed mind", "happier", "improved attitude".
  Quotes from their statements:

  • "I feel an internal peace that was not there previous to YXQ"
  • "(I got a) knowledge of something unlike any other practice or experience I have known"

      Major Effects                            Percentage  for Each Effect
 -----------------------------------------    ----------------------------------------
1.  Stress Reduction                                     68%  (13 out of 19)
2.  Mental Health Improvement                      58%  (11 out of 19)
3.  Energy Enhancement                               58%  (11 out of 19)
4.  Performance Enhancement                       57%  (  8 out of 14)
5.  Study Hours Increased (Avg.=2.4hrs/day) 50%  (  7 out of 14)
6.  Concentration Improvement                     37%  (  7 out of 19)
7.  Physical Health Improvement                    21%  (  4 out of 19)
8.  Memory Ability Improvement                    16%  (  3 out of 19)

Dr. Longguang Gao received his Ph.D. in Physical Education in 1993 from the University of Madison-Wisconsin. Since 1979 he has been practicing TaiChi and Chinese Martial Arts attending sixteen advanced qigong training workshops directly taught by Dr. Yan Xin. He has taught TaiChi and Chinese Martial Arts at Michigan State University and the University of Madison-Wisconsin.