What is Qi?

Katriena Knights

Qi, also known as chi, is a concept from traditional Taoist beliefs that originated in China. It can be compared to the idea of prana in Hindu belief. Qi translates literally as "air" or "breath" and refers to the energy that powers all life. The names of several martial arts disciplines, such as tai chi or qi gong, are derived from this concept. It is believed to affect not only an individual's health and wellness, but also luck, wealth and other elements of life in general.

Controlled breathing is an important part of yoga exercises.
Controlled breathing is an important part of yoga exercises.

Control of breath is an important part of many martial arts and other Asian spiritual and physical practices such as kung fu or even yoga. Breath control is used to control movement of energy through the body and is the basis of many martial arts achievements that seem almost superhuman to some observers. It also is important to meditative practice, which is believed to have a profound effect on the quality and movement of qi.

The concept of qi is similar to that of prana as described in yoga practice.
The concept of qi is similar to that of prana as described in yoga practice.

In traditional Chinese medicine, diseases are believed to be caused by disruptions in the flow of qi through the body. Practices such as acupuncture help redirect qi to its proper channels. Qi can be disrupted, blocked or weakened, leading to various illnesses or conditions. Chinese medicine also makes use of herbal remedies and various plant extracts to increase or decrease qi in certain body parts, thus aiding in long-term healing. Balance also can be restored through special massage techniques, exercises or meditation. Proper diet and overall fitness also contribute to this balance, increasing individual health and the ability to fend off illness.

Qi translates literally as "air" or "breath" and refers to the energy that powers all life.
Qi translates literally as "air" or "breath" and refers to the energy that powers all life.

Qi exists throughout all living beings as well as being an essential part of the world in general. Its flow not only through the body but also in natural surroundings can have a profound effect on health and temperament. Thus Chinese beliefs work to balance qi not only in the body, but also in a patient's home or surroundings. Feng shui operates largely on this principle by balancing the flow in an individual home or workplace.

Regulated breathing is also used by martial arts practitioners.
Regulated breathing is also used by martial arts practitioners.

Practitioners of holistic medicine sometimes combine Chinese practices such as acupuncture with homeopathic medicine. Other holistic practices sometimes combined with Chinese remedies include the use of essential oils or a specific herb remedy for various health issues. Traditional Chinese medicine is more likely to consist of herbal treatments as well as acupuncture and massage techniques. Practices such as acupressure are derived from these traditional approaches.

In Taoist meditation, the practitioner contemplates the flow of qi throughout the body.
In Taoist meditation, the practitioner contemplates the flow of qi throughout the body.

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