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Qigong is the process by which one can cultivate the energy of qi throughout ones body. Qigong is normally a set of movements designed to be fluidly practiced along with the alignment of deep breathing to ones Dantian. By practicing qigong, one can develop better circulation, build bodily communication, become more internally aware, and generally become healthier and more emotionally balanced.
There are two different divisions that qigong can be categorized into: internal and external. Internal qigong (sometimes referred to as 'soft' qigong) is practiced as a soft style of movements promoting deep breathing to build balanced internal awareness and communication. External qigong (referred to as 'hard' qigong) is a practice used to condition and build strength on the bones, tendons, and skin of the practitioner.
To practice internal, soft, qigong only basic body techniques and functions are required, as this style of qigong is used to build awareness and flexibility of the body. The movements are relaxing and slow to better aid the internal circulation of the bodies blood flow and qi. During internal qigong practice, in order to build more internal awareness, one should not let their mind wander too far. Instead focus should be paid towards breathing and correcting posture. Because soft qigong does not require large amounts of physical energy, it is a great practice to slowly build a stronger body for all ages. Through practice one can also open and strengthen respiratory, cardiovascular, digestive and meridian channels of the body.
The practice of external, or hard, qigong begins with basic levels of conditioning and later moves on to more advanced stages. Hard qigong begins with specific breathing exercises and the conditioning of the skin against injury. With continued practice, hard qigong can even be used to prevent injury against tendons, bone and internal organs. When higher levels are achieved one may have the ability to break objects on their body and be struck with kicks, punches, etc. while sustaining minimal injuries.
The benefits of a qigong practice can be vast. Overall they work to maintain a healthy body and mind while expelling toxins and unhealthy qi. With the composite training of internal and external qigong, one can begin to attain a better understanding and balance with the health of their body. In the end, the practitioner is left revitalized, stable, and of a more relaxed state. On a philosophical level, qigong can be used to balance emotions and rid the mind of unhealthy habits. By attaining internal awareness one can begin to understand their own weaknesses and strengths and eventually use the full potential of their mind and body in harmony to attain longevity in a cleaner and calmer existence.
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