Qigong is exercise. It is exercise for the entire body, the breath, and the mind. It is a way to bring the body back into balance and a way to strengthen the body. It is exercise with an extremely long history.
In Chinese Qigong is written: ??. Qi means energy and Gong means work or exercises. So literally Qigong means exercises for your energy.
Qigong is a fairly modern term. Traditionally the exercises that we know today as Qigong were called Nei Gong or Dao Yin. These two terms go back to ancient times. Nei Kung means Internal Exercises. Dao Yin means Leading and Guiding because the postures lead and guide the Qi or energy through the body for different purposes depending on the exercise or exercise set.
Qigong is the modern term that encompasses many different exercises. There are thousands of unique styles of Qigong. So in reality the term Qi Gong is not very descriptive. It is like saying “transportation.” But are we talking about air, water, train, automobile, space, etc? Each type of transportation is similar in that involves moving from point A to point B but beyond that each form of transportation can be vastly different. It is the same with Qigong.
What Qigong styles have in common is that they all work with the body’s energy. Beyond that they can be vastly different. There are moving Qi Gongs and stationary Qi Gongs. Some are for general health maintenance. Some are for specific illnesses. Some are for developing certain attributes like Iron Palm for the martial arts. But, each style of Qi Gong works with the body’s energy.
There are Qigong systems that are very ancient, having been passed down from one generation to the next. There are also modern Qi Gong systems that have been recently created. Many people benefit from both types. People praise the ancient Qigong systems as having passed the test of time and the creators of the modern systems site improvement and innovation as their motivation.
If you are just starting Qigong it is important to find out and learn about the style you are interested in. What is its history, characteristics, and goals.
If you have practiced a style of Qi Gong for a while it is important to realize that other styles might be different from your own, have different methods of practicing, different characteristics, and different goals.