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Qi Gong

Gymnastics for body and mind

Chinese woman in a Qi gong posture

Qi Gong, literally "work of Qi" or "work of vital breath", is an ancient form of gentle gymnastics developed in particular by the ancient Taoists in their quest for longevity and health preservation. Today, Qi Gong is practised daily by millions of Chinese, who can be seen performing their movements in public parks, on the streets and sometimes even in their workplaces.

As a practice dating back to the earliest times, Qi Gong has spanned the centuries, giving rise to a profusion of styles, schools and variants. The oldest surviving teachings on Qi Gong date back to the period of the Warring Kingdoms (474 BC to 221 BC). They were discovered in the 1970s in a tomb dating from the Han dynasty (168 BC) in the form of a 100 x 50-metre cloth banner depicting men and women in various gymnastic positions.

Although there are many different types of Qi Gong, they all share a few basic principles: mastery of movement (slow, fluid, relaxed), mastery of breathing (slow, natural, synchronized with gestures) and mastery of thought (concentration), which guides vital energy.

Inspired by the natural environment around them, the ancient Chinese also developed a series of movements based on observation of the animal world. Some postures, for example, are poetically called "the flight of the swallow", "the breath of the moon toad" or "the deer listens to the forest". All postures aim to bring therapeutic benefits, including improving organ and visceral function, strengthening joints and muscles, and calming the mind and emotions.

Today, a sedentary lifestyle is considered one of the evils of our civilization, representing a major health risk factor. The ancients had already clearly understood the essential role played by physical exercise in preserving health and longevity.

Rooted in the same fundamental theories as Chinese medicine, namely Qi, Yin and Yang, the five movements and the concept of the meridians, Qi Gong harmonizes the body's energies to relieve illness and pain, strengthen organ functions and calm the mind.

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