Qigong has been called “Chinese Yoga”, just as Yoga has been referred to as “Indian Qigong”. Qigong can be considered as a combination of a number of Yoga (the science of self-realization) and Ayuerveda (the science of self-healing) practices. Both Yoga and Qigong are excellent for focused stretching, strengthening, and health maintenance. Unlike Qigong, Yoga has no direct martial art application and it is not part of a particular healing tradition per se. Qigong is the foundation of both Tai Chi and Kung Fu, as well as being considered both part of and precursor to Traditional Chinese Medicine. A lot of the Yoga taught in the West involves very little, movement, and breathing practices whereas those are key to Qigong from the beginning. Yoga describes a progression from asanas to pranayama (breath practice), breathing isn’t built-in to a lot of Yoga classes or instruction, or it isn’t taught until some skill with asanas is achieved. This can take years, depending upon the style of Yoga. Yoga also does not have counterparts to Qigong’s medical practices that involve energy transmission or self-massage. Although there are these differences, the practices are ultimately quite similar in their physical, mental, and spiritual effects.
Historically, yoga and qigong have had different types of movement and posture. The important “cross over” of practices like yoga and qigong, however, where the practices may be considered functionally equivalent, is the meditative state. The important difference, of course, is how you get there. In yoga, you generally become very still to meditate. The vigorous yoga vinyasa practice is considered the way you “prepare” to meditate — the way you prepare your body to be and sit still. In qigong, the entire movement (which can also be vigorous), is a meditation. You don’t prepare to meditate with your movement as much as you are meditating as you move already and meditating throughout. It is the secret of qigong that even ordinary movement (like pouring tea) can be imbued with the same conscious principles of movement and stillness. This kind of attentiveness amounts to virtually injury-free practice, and this kind of movement and awareness-imbued qigong practice is already being used to teach people how to rehabilitate from injury or how to prevent falls (and prevent injuries) during movement.
Recently, Qigong has started to be incorporated into an increasing number of Yoga practices and teachings. For example, Yin Yoga is based upon Taoist Yoga as practiced in China. Yin Yoga involves the exercising and stretching of connective tissues, such as ligaments, bones, and joints, as opposed to exercising muscles through the application of external heat, lengthening, or contraction. People who discover Yin Yoga realize that there is more to Yoga than their familiar active style of asana practice. More on Yin Yoga you can find on www.yinyoga.com Out of my own experience I found Qigong to be a wonderful and very powerful practice. I have now incorporated some of my Qigong teachings into my Yoga practice too.
I have been lucky enough to have studied Yin Yoga and completed a Yin Yoga teacher training with mother of Yin Yoga, Sarah Powers in summer 2012.
Qigong I have learned from my teacher Margaret Miller. Margaret was a close friend of Spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle. I met Margaret at a workshop of Kim Eng, Eckhart’s wife, and was there introduced to her. I attended small private classes in her home for a number of years. Margaret’s Qigong is a form known as Hua Gong. I will remain forever grateful that I have known Margaret and will always remember her. She passed away in the summer of 2016.