The History of Qigong

Qigong’s documented history goes back 2500 years, and techniques similar to those of qigong are over 5000 years old. Over all of this time, qigong has had continuous evolution and many names, including “dao-yin”, which can be interpreted as “leading and guiding the energy”.

But the first recorded mention of the concept of qi (or vital energy) occurs around 1122 BC with The Book of Change (the I Ching).

This early understanding involves the relationships between the three powers – heaven, earth and man. Later, in 450 BC, Lao Tzu’s Dao De Jing describes breathing techniques, recommending that the breath be collected and allowed to descend into the body. Breath and the life force (qi) become integral concerns during this time and become foundational concepts in the development of Chinese Medicine, along with the concepts of yin and yang, and the five elements.

Jumping forward to 1985, the Chinese government approves the formation of the China Qigong Science Association, allowing for hundreds of controlled scientific studies. The results of these studies were overwhelmingly positive, further propelling the popularity of the practice so that by 1992, an estimated seventy to eighty million Chinese citizens are qigong practitioners.

The 1990s also marked qigong’s international proliferation, with early conferences held in Berkley, California (1990) and Vancouver, British Columbia (1995). In 1997 there are over one-hundred-thousand qigong practitioners outside of China, several thousand of which are in the US and Canada. Qigong practice continues to grow, internationally, and is recognized as one of the more popular forms of healing exercise in the world today.