What is Qi?

As a local acupuncturist and Taichi Qigong instructor, I frequently get asked: “What is qi (pronounced chee)?” Here is my understanding after reading the Qigong book written by Peter Deadman (published in 2024).

The most common translation is ‘energy’ but there is so much more!!! Qi is a valuable word with a myriad of potential. If we look at Chinese writing, the logograms (pictures) known as characters give 23 definitions. None of which is energy! They include: clouds, breathing, weather, gases, strength and include terms to explain different types of emotions, for example anger (huo qi). sexual intercourse (he qi) atmospheric pressure (qi ya). Qi works more like an abstract principle than a noun; for example, something intangible, a feeling, a quality, an idea, hence the intangible quality of a person, or a piece of music, or a feeling inside the body. So, context is important; it depends what we are talking about.
People reside within qi and qi resides within people. From heaven and earth down to the ten thousand things, each one requires qi to live. As for those who excel at cir-culating their qi, internally they are able to nourish their body; externally, they are able to repel illness.” said the 4th century Master Ge Hong.

The History
Qi evolved from Daoist philosophy. The most quoted philosopher is Lao Tzu (500BC). The Dao is the natural order of the universe, hence, being with the flow of nature. (Humans are only one small part of a larger process of nature). One early character for qi had the shape of vapour rising to form clouds, it then evolved to mean breathing. Hence a large part of qigong practice is breathing work.

A broad philosophical view of qi is ‘the fundamental substance that makes up every-thing in the universe’. Qi in its most refined state is empty space. It can also be condensation, heat, light, wind, fluid and finally solid matter. Everything is qi! Qi is in a constant flow of change. This can be compared to water, which can transform into steam, ice and cloud but is always water.

Qi in qigong practice is a feeling of free flow, greater energy and vitality (achieved with regular practice), leading to a healthy longer life. Qigong is breath work that is conscious, deep, slow, abdominal and nourishing. With the guidance from your instructor; awareness can be achieved with internal qi cultivation, guiding qi for healing purposes (self-cultivation) with physical movement. Would you like to enjoy a rewarding internal experience with a sensory feeling of being alive!

Contact Kerry on 07715 458 064 to book your free taster session, normally £6 per week in the KCH Fridays 10am. More information about qigong and acupuncture is available at the website https://kerryacupuncture.co.uk.