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qigong(1) A Chinese form of self-healing said to stimulate and balance the flow of qi (chi; vital energy) through meridians (energy pathways), which involves contemplation, visualisation (imagery), assumption of postures, and stylised breathing and body movements. Gong is Mandarin for breathing (kung in Cantonese); qigong/chikung variously translates as breathing exercise, to work the vital force, practising with breath, or working with the energy of life. It consists of energy mastering exercises.
(2) The body of ancient Chinese and 20th-century thought which encompasses qigong/chikung therapy/exercise. The exercise is analogous to yoga, and combines movement, meditation and breath regulation as a means of enhancing the flow of qi (chi; the vital life energy) along acupuncture meridians. Qigong has two major components: internal (soft) qigong, in which the qi is manipulated within one’s own body through exercise, and external (hard) qigong, in which the qi is projected to another person. Qigong is believed by its advocates to improve circulation, decrease pulse, respiration rate and oxygen consumption, and enhance immune function; it is believed to be effective in treating hypertension and gastrointestinal complaints (e.g., ulcers, constipation).