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There many different styles of Qigong, originating from five schools of thought: Daoism, Buddhism, Confucianism, martial and medical (healing). However, all have the same principle of making the vital energy stronger and the body healthy.

Qigong dates back over 3,000 years. During this time, ancient Chinese people lived along the Yellow River, and they had to find ways to survive in that area. As there was a lot of water there and often flooding, the climate was very damp. The people suffered a lot of problems with their joints, like arthritis and rheumatism, because the damp got inside their bodies. It is the same today in many colder countries, such as Britain, Canada, Russia and the north of China. When the damp gets inside the body, it tends to stay in the joints, just like the dust in your house collects in the corners where it is difficult to clean.

These ancient people had to find a way to live in their damp environment, but what could they do? They found the best way was the same as cleaning the dust from our clothes or rugs: to shake them clean. But how do we shake the body? It is easy. All we have to do is move. The ancient Chinese created many different kinds of movements, some of which were like a dance and others which were based upon observations from nature and movements from animals.

These movements might have started in the same way as, Polynesians, Africans and Australian Aborigines created their own cultural dances. However, whereas these cultures danced to commune with nature or tell a story, the movements that these peoples created were particularly for health. These peoples had their own ways to move the body to create internal heat in order to clear dampness and illnesses. This has been documented through old drawings found on bronze vessels and silk (see opposite, above).

Qigong is good for more than getting rid of damp in the joints, however. It helps to balance the body and alleviates all kinds of conditions such as stomach ache, poor circulation, backache, headaches and so on. It releases negative energy and stiffness, so when the ancient Chinese people moved in this special way, they felt lighter and happier and had more energy.

Form Qigong

A western Han painting showing the earliest form of Qigong. Daoym.

As time went by, the movements and dances began to evolve into a more systemised skill. The people of the Yellow River were great observers of nature. So they came to understand that there are two sides to everything. They saw that as summer passes, winter comes; breathing in, we must then breathe out; we have life, but we also have death. They called this phenomenon Yin and Yang, or the observation of opposites. Yin means dark, soft, hidden, slow, and represents the female. Yang means bright, hard, open, fast, and represents the male. The concept that everything in nature has an opposing force is the foundation of all Chinese culture. It is also the basis of all developments in Chinese medicine, cooking, Qigong, martial arts and philosophy.

Around the same time that Qigong began, these concepts were compiled in a book called the Yijing. Yi means change and Jing means classic book, so the title means The Classic of Change. (You may know the book as the I Ching or Book of Changes.) The Yijing is about everything in the universe and how things change, and how this change is based upon the principle of Yin and Yang.

A western Han painting showing the earliest form of Qigong. Daoym.

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Yin Yang Balance

Yin Yang Balance

Achieve Health, Wealth And Body Balance Through Yin Yang Mastery. Cut up on the old stone drums of Republic of China, inscribed in books handed down through thousands of years, traced on ancient saucers and on saucers made today, is a sign and a symbol. It is woven into textiles, stitched into embroideries, emblazoned over house gates, wrought into shop emblems, a circle, locked together inside it yang and yin yang, light, yin, dark, each carrying inside itself the essence of the other, each shaped to the other

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