Different types of Qigong

Qigong is not just a set of breathing exercises, but rather comprises a large variety of physical and mental training methods based on Chinese philosophy. While implementation details vary, all qigong forms can be characterized as a mix of four types of training: dynamic, static, meditative, and activities requiring external aids.

Dynamic training involves fluid movement, usually carefully choreographed, coordinated with breath and awareness. Examples include the slow stylized movements of T'ai chi ch'uan, Baguazhang, and Xing yi. Other examples include graceful movement that mimics the motion of animals in Five Animals, White Crane, and Wild Goose (Dayan) Qigong.

Static training involves holding postures for sustained periods of time. In some cases this bears resemblance to the practice of Yoga and its continuation in the Buddhist tradition. For example Yiquan, a Chinese martial art derived from xingyiquan, emphasizes static stance training. In another example, the healing form Eight Pieces of Brocade (Baduanjin qigong) is based on a series of static postures.

Meditative training utilizes breath awareness, visualization, mantra, and focus on philosophical concepts such as qi circulation. For example, in the Confucius scholar tradition meditation is focused on humanity and virtue, with the aim of self-enlightenment. In various Buddhist traditions, the aim is to still the mind, either through outward focus, for example on a place, or through inward focus on the breath, a mantra, a koan, emptiness, or the idea of the eternal. In Taoist and traditional Chinese medicine traditions, the meditative focus is on balancing qi flow in meridian pathways.