If you’re new to Eastern forms of exercise such as QiGong and Yoga, you may well be wondering exactly what the differences are.
If you’ve seen any video clips of them you may well come to the conclusion that they are very similar, with a lot of relaxed and coordinated body movements, as well as elements of meditation.
In this article, we’re going to briefly examine QiGong and Yoga, and spell out just what the differences are, and the benefits of each.
We hope that by the end of the article you will be well placed to decide which, if either, of these forms of practice is right for you.
We’re going to start off by clarifying some of the basics.
What is QiGong?
Qigong is a system of coordinated body-posture and movement, breathing, and meditation used for the purposes of health, spirituality, and martial-arts training.
It originated in ancient China.
Qigong is made up of two words: Qi, which means energy, and Gong which means work or skill.
It’s basically the practice of working with and developing skill with energy.
What is Yoga?
Yoga is a catch all term for a group of physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines that originated in ancient India.
The term Yoga comes from the word ‘yuj’ which means to join, or to harness.
Some believe it means joining with the Divine, but more commonly it’s interpreted as joining body and mind.
Key Similarities Between QiGong and Yoga
And what do these definitions say of the similarities and differences (see also differences between QiGong and Nei Gong)?
At first they certainly do appear to have very much in common.
- Coordinated body-posture breathing and movement
- Certain forms of meditation
- Connections to spirituality
As such they can both be described as holistic practices that focus on health and well being.
They are also both very ancient practices that go back over 5000 years, and that have really stood the test of time.
The principles are very much the same.
The idea is to bring you closer to your body,peel back layers of tension, quieten your mind, and enable more effective energy flow both within and around the body.
Key Differences Between QiGong and Yoga
There are however several notable differences between the two practices of Qigong and Yoga, and here we will look at each individually.
Link to Martial Arts
Some of the differences between Qigong and Yoga already stand out as very different and striking.
Particularly the links between Qigong and the martial arts.
Qigong has a long and deep association with the martial arts.
The practice of qigong is an important element in both internal and external style Chinese martial arts, such as Neijia, T'ai Chi Ch'uan, and Xing Yi Quan, where there is a focus on qi, the body’s energy, which is considered to be a source of power.
T'ai Chi Ch'uan, closely associated with qigong, is a widely practiced martial art that involves complex choreographed movement coordinated with breath, which can be done slowly for health and training, or quickly for self-defense.
But to be honest, modern qigong practices typically focus is more on health and meditation rather than on these martial art applications.
Key Differences in Movement
Yoga involves many exercises carried on mats, with a lot of stretching, and the emphasis is on achieving a number of static postures called asanas.
Practitioners are expected to hold these postures for several minutes.
With Qigong on the other hand, the practitioner is usually standing, and the focus is on smooth flowing movement throughout the qigong exercises, and never stopping.
At times yoga can be quite physically demanding and strenuous.
But qigong in stark contrast can be performed even by people who are very unwell.
You don’t have to be especially athletic to practice yoga (but try being grateful), but it certainly helps if you are.
A further difference is in the level of awareness of each practice.
In the west, yoga is more well known than Qigong, and thus it’s far easier to find a yoga class than to find a Qigong class.
There are an estimated 250,000 to 650,000 certified yoga teachers in the US.
Whereas the number of qigong instructors is but a fraction of that.
It is however a growing phenomenon, and some organizations have over 2000 tai chi and qigong instructors across the US.
Benefits of QiGong
- Better blood circulation
- Calming of the mind
- Relief from mental anxiety
- Loosens muscles
- Can be done when ill
- Speeds up recovery time
- Balances your emotions
Benefits of Yoga
- Increased flexibility
- Weight loss (over time)
- Increased muscle strength and tone
- Improved breathing
- More energy
- Better circulatory health
- Improved management of stress
- Sharper concentration
- Quietens the mind
Wrap Up: Should You Choose To Practice Qigong or Yoga?
Which practice to begin depends very much on what your intentions are and what is available to you.
If you live in an area where there aren’t many yoga or qigong classes, then you may have to make do by yourself, or by using YouTube videos and the like.
If you have both options available to you, your decision comes down to whether you want to learn or improve in the martial arts, in which case your best option is Qigong.
But if that’s not of interest to you, then the decision comes down to whether you’re sufficiently athletic enough for yoga, or whether you would benefit from slower and more relaxed movement, in which case qigong is more appropriate.
But really, you don’t have to choose between the two.
Why not have the best of both worlds and practice both?
If this article has aroused your curiosity or interest about these two practices, by all means feel free to browse your site and learn more about them.
You could learn about the two different cultures of the two practices and their origins, or learn about all the different types of yoga (there are many) and see what appeals to you the most.
We wish you well on your journey to better health and well being!