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What is Qigong

Qigong is an ancient Chinese practice that has been around for thousands of years. It is an holistic system of exercises and meditations that are designed to improve physical, mental, and spiritual health. 

The word"qigong" (pronounced chee-gung) is made up of two Chinese characters: qi (meaning energy or life force) and gong (meaning work or cultivation). Together, they refer to the practice of cultivating one's vital energy through various techniques.

The history of qigong can be traced back to ancient China, where it was practiced by Taoist monks as a way to cultivate their inner energy and achieve longevity. The earliest known reference to qigong dates back to the Han dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE), where it was mentioned in medical texts as a way to treat illnesses.

During the Tang dynasty (618-907 CE), qigong became more popular among the general population. It was during this time that many different styles of qigong were developed, each with its own unique set of exercises and meditations.

One famous practitioner from this period was Li Shizhen, who wrote the Compendium of Materia Medica – a comprehensive book on traditional Chinese medicine. In his book, he described various qigong exercises that could be used to treat different ailments.

In the Ming dynasty (1368-1644 CE), qigong continued to evolve and become more widespread. Many famous martial artists also practiced qigong as a way to enhance their physical abilities.

One such martial artist was Wang Zuyuan, who developed a style of qigong called Yijinjing ("Muscle-Tendon Changing Classic"). This style focused on stretching and strengthening the muscles and tendons through specific movements and breathing techniques.

Another famous practitioner from this period was Zhang Sanfeng, who is credited with developing Tai Chi – a form of martial arts that incorporates elements of qigong into its movements.

During the Qing dynasty (1644-1912 CE), many new styles of qigong emerged. One such style was Falun Gong ("Law Wheel Practice"), which combined elements from Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, and traditional Chinese medicine.

Falun Gong became very popular in China during the 1990s but was later banned by the government due to its perceived threat to social stability. Despite this ban, Falun Gong continues to be practiced by millions around the world today.

In modern times, there has been growing interest in qigong outside China. Many people have discovered its benefits for improving physical health, reducing stress levels, increasing mental clarity and focus, enhancing creativity and intuition – just some examples!

Today there are many different styles of Qigong being taught all over world - some focusing on healing practices while others emphasise martial arts applications or spiritual development - but all share common roots in ancient Chinese culture!