Energy-based therapies

The facts

Qigong is a technique central to traditional Chinese medicine. Pronounced "chee-gung," the term approximately translates to "working with life energy."

The aim of Qigong is to boost the body's flow of vital energy called qi and support a balance between yin and yang. Yin is thought to be a cold, slow, and passive energy, and yang a hot, excitable, and active one.

Internal Qigong focuses on self-directed techniques to enhance qi, like meditation, breathing exercises, postures, or special sounds. In external Qigong, a Qigong master uses his or her hands or visualization techniques to direct qi toward another person.

While internal and external Qigong are the two main branches of Qigong practice, thousands of different exercises exist, and the Chinese government recognizes more than 5,000 styles. One might take a class from a Qigong master in order to learn the techniques, exercises, and discipline involved in maintaining an internal Qigong practice.

Some evidence suggests that the internal practice of Qigong may be beneficial to those with high blood pressure, pain, and anxiety.

A word of caution

When practiced correctly, Qigong has proven to be a safe complementary technique, though it cannot be relied upon as the sole approach to health and wellness. Be sure to speak to your doctor before trying Qigong and to explain to a Qigong master any particular medical conditions or concerns you have.