Qigong, the Ancient Art for Health
Qigong is the phonetic transcriptions (Qi and Gong) of two Chinese characters as shown in the title. Qi means literally air, which represents a kind of energy flowing according to certain routes in one's body -- vital for human being. Gong means the great effort or work put into the qi practice. Through working inside your body and mind, using the methodology of Qigong, you may achieve a perfect harmony in your body, mind, and spirit, so this may lead to a more energetic and healthier life. Therefore, Qigong is the Chinese way of cultivating the human body and is the ancient Chinese methodology for health, therapy, and longevity.
It is believed that Qigong has a history of at least 3,000 years in China. Qigong was gradually developed through the struggle for survival in ancient China. People found that certain body movements along with various ways of breathing and mental concentration, could greatly improve some body functions. These techniques and knowledge were further refined over time and passed down through generations. Qigong often has a strong bond with religions, particularly Taoist and Buddhist. One of the examples of this bond is Shaolin Temple, which is well known for its martial arts and Qigong (Qigong is considered the base of martial arts). Many quite different forms of Qigong were established over the long history of Qigong. The bond between Qigong and religions is an important factor for the many forms of Qigong.
Chinese medicine is traditionally based on the theory of Yin and Yang. Chinese think everything consists the yin and the yang. Such as for human being, female is the yin and male is the yang. Human body is also governed by the yin and the yang. The yin and the yang, are in constant evolution and revolution, and interaction between them. Disease and illness are the direct cause of the imbalance between the yin and the yang. Qigong is the natural method to control and adjust one's yin and yang to achieve the balance of them, so it optimizes the body's ability to use the most of latent energy within the human body and to guard any invasion of disease or illness.
Trying to establish a scientific foundation, many researchers and Qigong masters have done some research on Qigong using modern technologies, yet much more work still needs to be done to understand Qigong better. Qigong is one of the things I have always wished to learn, but just don't have the time. I believe Qigong will be helpful for your health if you practice it properly. I can not judge if some of Qigong masters' claims are true or false since I don't have any experience on Qigong. Like anything else, if it goes to extreme, it will become harmful.
Today, Qigong is still popular in China. You can often see a lot of people practice Qigong in the morning. It is estimated that there are about 200 popular forms of Qigong in China.