One Traditional Chinese Medicine practice that Westerners may find intriguing is the breathing discipline called Qigong (also dubbed chi kung by others.) This Traditional Chinese Medicine practice is related to the concept of the role of your body energies play in influencing the actions of your body in coordination with specified breathing patterns. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, ailments may result when bodily energies are trapped or constrained in a certain way and need to be released so that your body remains in a state of balance or wellness. This Traditional Chinese Medicine belief is related to the concept of Yin and Yang, which is said to be integral to how the elements of the universe are made up within your body ?? when Yin seems to be too strong, for instance, then Yang becomes too weak. To achieve wellness, you need to bring both Yin and Yang energies back into harmony within your body. Qigong is the Traditional Chinese Medicine practice that aims to facilitate harmonization of your energies which seem to be (as the Westerners put it) ??out of whack. ?
Qigong as a Traditional Chinese Medicine discipline may be a bit complicated for Westerners to fathom since it is not a single body of knowledge practiced by just one group of Chinese Traditional Chinese Medicine advocates. There are estimated to be over 3,300 styles plus schools that propagate this Traditional Chinese Medicine discipline nowadays. The commonality between styles and schools is that they all advocate the role of qi or chi in Traditional Chinese Medicine ?? meaning, your breathing can affect how energy is distributed throughout your body and in connection, how ailments can be relieved through proper breathing coupled with the right body movements so that your body is brought back into harmony. The name itself (Qigong) means qi (or breath) and gong (or the discipline itself) ?? taken together, Qigong then is the art of adjusting your breathing to achieve optimal health benefits.
It should not surprise newcomers to Traditional Chinese Medicine that Qigong is closely related to Oriental martial arts, where proper breathing is necessary to achieve the right results. From a Western medical perspective alone, Qigong is a pretty good Traditional Chinese Medicine discipline because it has been scientifically proven that altering breathing patterns can result in better stress reduction treatment and facilitates improved exercise practices. Qigong can be likened to another Traditional Chinese Medicine practice which is meditation (that incidentally is also integral to some Oriental martial arts as well.) To believers in Qigong though, this art of breath work goes much further than just Traditional Chinese Medicine health benefits ?? it is their way to tap into their oneness with the universe and even connect to those universal energies that they believe all exist within us.
In the past, the discipline of Qigong was a closely guarded secret of Oriental martial arts practitioners and other believers in Traditional Chinese Medicine as well. But now that the Orient and its secrets have been opened to Western students as well, we may find this Traditional Chinese Medicine practice is now being explored and even accepted by Western medical arts practitioners too. Chinese hospitals have been advocating use of Qigong practices as part of normal Traditional Chinese Medicine procedures in treating their patients since year 1989 onwards. Even major Chinese universities are now offering studies in Traditional Chinese Medicine practices like Qigong to their students. And fortunately for Traditional Chinese Medicine advocates, even the current government in China has adopted Qigong as an integral component of the National Health Plan, thus putting Qigong under formal government regulation. This allows Traditional Chinese Medicine like the Qigong discipline to be practiced openly rather than force advocates to practice Qigong in secret.