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Qigong Yoga – Understanding These Practices as Separate Entities and as One

by Michael Teh

The ancient practices of Qigong and Yoga have their benefits and are excellent practices in their own way.

Both are very holistic approaches to health, vitality, and the development of human potential.

Although the origins of the two practices are different, many practitioners enjoy practicing both because they complement each other perfectly.

Read on to understand the origins of these practices and how they can help you discover meditation.

“The concept of vital life energy that sustains life everywhere is central to both Yoga and Qigong. In Yoga, it is referred to as “prana,” and in Qigong, it is the same “qi” that is part of the name of the practice. Both practices aim to balance the energy within us. “

In this article, you will learn:

  • The origins of Qigong and Yoga.
  • The concept of energy in Qigong and Yoga.
  • Traditional and modern application of Qigong and Yoga.
  • The beauty of the combined practice of Qigong and Yoga.
  • What this means for you.

 

The Origins of Qigong and Yoga

Qigong originated in China, while Yoga can be traced back to India. It is understood that the traditions of these two great civilizations would diverge, given the vast differences in their history, culture, and philosophy. However, because of their proximity to each other, there was also a great deal of intellectual exchange. There are numerous documents proving that Chinese scholars travelled to India, although historically this exchange was more from India to China, such as when Buddhism was introduced to China. The exchange of ideas between the two countries naturally led to parallels and connections between their methods.

The root of the word Yoga (योग ) is the Sanskrit root yuj, which means to attach, join, harness or yoke. The underlying idea is that of solidarity. There are a variety of ways to interpret this. It seems that the original intent behind the concept was a spiritual or philosophical one, that of becoming one with the divine. In today’s terms, it is usually understood to mean bringing one’s spiritual and physical selves into harmony.

On the other hand, Qigong (योग) consists of two characters. They are composed of the Chinese characters for “energy” (qi) and “work” (gong). In other words, one learns to control and channel energy. Qigong is a modern term that first appeared in Daoist literature in the early Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD), but it is used to refer to practices that go back much further and were formerly known by other terms such as neidan (internal alchemy), xing qi (circulating qi), or dao yin (the way of yin) (leading and pulling).

The Concept of Energy in Qigong and Yoga

The concept of vital life energy that sustains life everywhere is central to both Yoga and Qigong. In Yoga, it is referred to as “prana,” and in Qigong, it is the same “qi” that is part of the name of the practice. Both practices aim to balance the energy within us. The concept of chakras is found in Yoga, and dantien is found in Qigong. Both concepts refer to energy centers that affect the surrounding tissues of the body as well as various aspects of our overall functioning. Similarly, in Yoga, there are nadis, channels through which energy flows in the body, while in Qigong these are called meridians and are arranged somewhat differently in the body. In practice, however, Yoga focuses more on the chakras and less on the nadis, while Qigong gives great importance to both the dantiens and the meridians.

Traditional and Modern Application of Qigong and Yoga

Yoga began primarily as a spiritual practice. The word Yoga first appears in the Rig Veda, the texts of the Vedic priests, the Brahmins, and later in the Upanishads, a collection of scriptures. Patanjali systematically presented Yoga later in the classical period in the Yoga Sutras. According to him, Yoga has eight branches.

  1. Yama – attitudes towards our environment
  2. Niyama – attitudes towards ourselves
  3. Asana – physical postures
  4. Pranayama – breath control
  5. Pratyahara – control of the senses
  6. Dharana – concentration
  7. Dhyana – meditation
  8. Samadhi – enlightenment

But Qigong can be traced back to the shamanic dances of the rural people of Neolithic China. Throughout its existence, it has always been associated with growth and the maintenance of health. Even today, acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, and other traditional Chinese medical practices are based on the theory and practice of traditional Chinese medicine, which is referenced in the earliest texts of Chinese medicine such as the Huangdi Neijing of the legendary Yellow Emperor, considered the father of Chinese medicine.

In today’s modern world, the understanding and application of Qigong is, as summarized by Master Liu He, a world-renowned Qigong master, “Qigong is essentially a philosophy for living life with mindfulness and creating an awareness of the present that leads to a better understanding of ourselves, others, and the world in which we live… It is the bridge that brings us back into harmony with nature, and with practice, Qigong is as big as the universe and full of surprises.”

Yoga, on the other hand, is a thoroughly global phenomenon, with people committed to the practice to improve the quality of their lives, both physically and mentally. For them, Yoga is the time they take out of their hectic daily schedules.

The Beauty of the Combined Practice of Qigong and Yoga

By combining Yoga and Qigong you can reach a deeper state of consciousness.

What we typically learn during our Yoga practice is integrated into Qigong, including the use of breath and qi to move and release stuck energy and ultimately heal the body by learning how to move and receive energy. Traditionally, asana practice in Yoga focuses more on building strength and stability.

Yoga and Qigong both help release stress, trauma, and the inability to move forward by bringing us into a more intimate relationship with our bodies. They help quiet the mind to hear the voice of the heart. In both Yoga and Qigong, alignment is key to promoting healthy energy flow.

In addition to our flesh, blood, organs, and bones, we are also defined by an energetic grid that is recognized in the traditions of Yoga and Qigong. These are known as nadis or meridian lines. Along these meridians are high concentrations of qi/prana/energy known as acupuncture points or “marma” points.

What this Means for You

In summary, by practicing Qigong Yoga with the movements I have curated, one not only benefits from cultivating good health through the movement of Qi throughout the body but is also able to improve mindfulness, which leads to being able to perform moving and sitting meditations with ease. As a result, practicing Qigong Yoga leads to lightness in the body and clarity in the mind.

Part of this article is credited to www.longwhitecloudqigong.com.

Michael Teh, 11th November 2022.

Michael Teh is a meditation coach devoted to a personal mission of awakening more people to higher consciousness. He teaches self-realization through meditation, qigong, yoga and philosophy.

Michael Teh Signature Workshop: The Essence of Life Series explores meditation as a powerful tool to realize our true potential. Michael has designed multiple workshops in this series to support his participants’ self-realization journey. Workshop Series 1 is currently running every few months on-ground in Kuala Lumpur, titled “Knowledge of The Self and Fundamentals of Meditation”.

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