From the Dalai Lama's personal physician
Qi (pronounced chi) refers to the life energy circulating throughout the body. It is the central underlying principle in traditional Chinese medicine. Gong means to cultivate skill or mastery. So qigong means to balance the life energy to improve our health. Although its roots go back thousands of years from Confucianism, Daoism, Buddhism, and martial arts, the modern versions blend elements of moving the energy in the body, standing meditation, and slow gymnastic-like breathing, utilizing varying poses. There are a variety of different poses, both dynamic and static to strengthen, stretch, and balance.
These practices aim at balancing the body, breath, and the mind bringing more harmony of body and mind.
As there are a great number of varieties, each teacher will present it slightly differently, yet the core elements remain the same. In traditional Chinese medicine, qigong is often used for chronic fatigue syndrome, as well as lower back and leg pain as well as different forms of spondylitis. Research into the efficacy of qigong is of poor quality. Most study’s sample sizes are too small and often lack appropriate control groups. Nevertheless, millions of people around the world, both inside and outside of China practice it regularly .
16. Jahnke, R. (2010) A Comprehensive Review of Health Benefits of Qigong and Tai Chi. Am J Health Promot. 2010 JUL-AUG; 24(6): e1–e25.