Qi Gong is often translated as “accumulated work of life force,” which denotes not one specific contemporary health practice, but two schemes of ancient Chinese practices. One is Neidan, “the inner alchemy,” a meditative practice. And the second is Daoyin, “pulling and directing,” a gymnastic practice. Because the contemporary Qi Gong practice is a multifaceted accretion of a variety of practices with a broad range of religious, pop-cultural, and scientific ideas, which in turn are essentially based on the Neidan and Daoyin practices, there are no formally established systems or categories of Qi Gong practice.
The idea of Qi (Chi, Ki) is one of the most difficult but imperative of all Chinese concepts to understand. Due to its indigenous and ambiguous nature, the early scholars and translators on Chinese thoughts and culture showed an intriguing reluctance in the discussion of Qi. Only in recent decades has the idea of Qi forced its way into the West through the practice of Qi Gong in both healing techniques and martial arts. This social phenomenon in turn has arrested the enthusiasm of the contemporary elite academics as well as lay people.
Angus C. Graham (Yale) and Benjamin I. Schwartz (Harvard), the leading Western authorities on Chinese thought, language, and textual criticism, prefer to leave Qi untranslated but suggest Qi as the closest Chinese approximation of the Western concept of “matter.” Qi, Graham writes, is “adapted to cosmology as the universal fluid, active as Yang and passive as Yin, out of which all things condense and into which they dissolve…it is like such words in other cultures as Greek pneuma ‘wind, air, breath’. It is the energetic fluid which vitalizes the body, in particular as the breath, and which circulates outside us as the air.”
Regarding the translation of Qi into English as “energy,” Schwartz cogently describes, “ch’i comes to embrace properties which we would call psychic, emotional, spiritual, numinous, and even ‘mystic.’ It is precisely at this point that Western definitions of ‘matter’ and the physical which systematically exclude these properties from their definitions do not at all correspond to ch’i.” “To the extent that the word ‘energy’ is used in the West to apply exclusively to a force that relates only entities described in terms of physical mass, it is as misleading as ‘matter’, I think, as an over-all name for ch’i.”
All living beings not only survive but also prosper by Qi, the matter or force of life. There is no “good” or “bad” matter or force, by any moral standard. In the same way, there is no absolute “good” or “bad” Qi, but only the harmonized Qi that circulates efficiently in a living body and supports life. Therefore, a harmonized circulation of Qi is the essential for life according to Chinese thought. When Qi is blocked within the body system, it builds up in the area where it may not be needed. It is like too much water overflowing a riverbed and resulting into floods, the body will manifest emotional imbalance or physical sickness. Such imbalance of Qi flow will affect the entire body, and ultimately, result in illness and death.
There are three sources for the theoretic foundation of Qi Gong: 1) Taoist and Buddhist philosophies, 2) the Chinese cosmology including the Yin and Yang and Five-phase theory, and 3) Chinese medicine. However, commonly among all three are the essential Qi Gong techniques that combine focused visualization and mental concentration with balanced breathing in a controlled way
Traditionally, movements associated Qi Gong or gymnastics such as the Eight Sections of Brocade, the Five Animal Plays, are considered as inferior to the more meditative practice, such as Neidan. The YeYoung Neidan practice, or the YeYoung Inner Alchemy focuses on the Southern Neidan School that was founded by the Southern Patriarch Zhang Boduan (984-1028). It is a technique of enlightenment, not much a doctrine but a practice achieved by exercising the techniques of enhancing health and longevity.
Unlike some meditation practices only dwell on xing, or the original nature in its pristine purity, and wish to attain in an intuitive and immediate vision, but neglect ming, fate and earthly life, YeYoung Neidan practice approaches from cultivating of the fate and earthly life, awakening the original nature. Only when the original nature and fate and earthly life are united, they join in the “non-action that is the action,” the ultimate enlightenment is attained. Without the fate and earthly life, the original nature will forever be stuck in inactive emptiness; without the original nature, the fate and earthly life will never attain perfect non-action.
The Four Stages of YeYoung Qi Gong
Qi Gong techniques are generally applied to the two categories: Healing Functions and Martial Functions. The former cultivates physical health and spiritual well-being, such as spiritual awakening, while the latter emphasizes a superior physical ability, such as breaking a large rock or thick iron pole with bare hands or feet.
Qi Gong techniques are also divided into two general categories: dong gong, or dynamic qi gong, and jing gong, or meditative qi gong. Dynamic qi gong includes physical movements. The entire body moves from one posture to another or a posture is held while the four limbs move through various positions. Tai Chi is an example of a dynamic qi gong, juxtaposed with meditative qi gong, where the entire body is still, and the qi is controlled by mental concentration, visualization, and precise methods of breathing.
Like Tai Chi, there are a few styles or schools of qi gong. Every Qi Gong technique, whether standing, moving, or sitting and meditating, shares three common principles: Tiao Shen, regulating or alignment the body, Tiao Xi, regulating or refining breathing, and Tiao Xin, focusing the inner awareness to consciously coordinate and direct the mind; and balance yin yang and the five elements of wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. Their names range from animals to legendary figures, mountains to plants, and philosophical ideas to human organs.
YeYoung Qi Gong methods adhere to the traditional Chinese healing (vs. martial) methods, focusing on the teachings of unbroken lineages through physical empowerments and oral transmissions. The techniques of Qi Gong taught at the Arts of YeYoung Tradition are now available to Westerners for the first time, in detailed postures, and are coordinated with breathing techniques to enable you to focus on the working of your inner world and subtle body. It arouses qi from slumber, and quickly builds up Dan Tian,or a “qi reservoir” in your body.
The Literati Horse Stance Practice: Beginner level
This course is suitable for any age or fitness level. It is easy to learn and you can quickly gain a recognizable sense of, and a feeling for, qi. In the standing and dissolving process, it teaches you to dissipate energy blockages. You will learn how to:
- Recognize and materialize the qi in your body
- Remove energy blockages in your body
- Detoxify your body system
- Relieve back, neck and other neuromuscular problems
- Lower blood pressure
- Decrease heart diseases
- Stretch and move the joints, increase your over-all energy level
- Cleanse your emotional body of negative energy, relieve tension and stress
- Gather and store qi through your body and hands for physical/healing powers
The Literati Fire Dragon Practice: Intermediate level
This dynamic course teaches you to move and direct qi at will to any point in your body, and absorb and project your qi with your hands to penetrate the fourteen main acupuncture meridian
channels in your body. It helps link the physical and energetic activities of the internal organs to the spine and the joints, and utilize qi in healing, sports, and martial arts. You will learn how to:
- Work with the qi connection between your aura and acupuncture meridians
- Focus your awareness to consciously coordinate and control the flow of qi in your body
- Align your body correctly in order to achieve the downward and the upward flow of qi without blocking or dissipating it
- Move and direct energy at will to any point in your body
- Make your bones harder and stronger
- Improve athletic performance
- Neutralize and transform negative energy
The Mantra Practice: Intermediate/Advanced levels
This course teaches a higher level of breathing. At this level breathing is coordinated with Tantric mantras in which the joints, cavities, spinal vertebrae, glands, and muscles simultaneously expand or contract with each breath/sound vibration. You will learn how to:
- Balance yin and yang, and the five inner organs in your body and their elements: liver (wood), heart (fire), spleen/stomach (earth), lungs (metal), and kidneys (water)
- Boost your Dan Tian qi reservoir (the area two inches below navel)
- Energize your overall qi flow, prevent illness and degenerative disease
- Increase sexual vitality and resistance to disease
- Absorb energy from nature for healing power
- Gain mental clarity and insights to assist and deal life practically
- Reach the realm of becoming one with the universe
The Meditation: Advanced level only
In YeYoung Qi Gong Meditation, the focus is on developing a clear, tranquil state of mind, deep inner awareness and harmony with nature. One focuses on conscious production of mental images and visualizations, rather than images that arise spontaneously during dreamlike or visionary states. In the meditation, visualization is trained through imagination and volition. By using the creative power of the mind, visualization stimulates subtle human glands, sharpens awareness, and corrects health problems. Visualization functions as a faculty that gives you access to an intermediary world; a world between the realm of unfathomable and hidden mystery, and the world of sensible and gross forms. It unifies the two complementary sides of human nature—intuitive wisdom and practical knowledge. You will learn how to:
- Use qi to cure serious illness—if the mind can cause disease, the mind can also cure it
- Boost immune system, increase DHEA level, and correlate biochemical, bioluminescence, consciousness to maximize energy level
- Slow the aging process
- Release spiritual blockage and gain ability to heal others
- Enter peace and tranquility at will