There are two types of Qigong practice:
- Wai Dan (External Elixir) involves physical movement and concentration
- Nei Dan (Internal Elixir) involves sitting meditation and guided imagery or visualization
According to the traditional teachings of Qigong, beginners first learn physical movements coordinated with breathing techniques. They practice sets of exercises (similar to Tai Chi) until each movement or posture is perfected. Once they learn the form, the next step is to find the subtle flow or fluctuation of energy within the postures, movements, breathing patterns, and transitions. This is called moving meditation.
Among the exercises, there are many postures that are held for long periods of time. These postures are somewhat similar to those of yoga. They are practiced to strengthen the limbs and increase energetic flow. These postures fall into the category of still meditation.
Sitting meditation focuses on becoming more acquainted with the breath, body, and mind.
Moving, still, and sitting meditations can all be practiced with or without visualization. Visualization enhances the scope of practice by allowing the practitioner to guide the energy in accordance with the visualization.
Qigong uses combinations of these practices in an effort to promote health and improve digestion; boost the immune system; and relieve headaches, sinus congestion, aches and pain, and stress – to name a few.