Taoist Yoga/ Medical Qigong

September 30, 2019 Joe Brady

On the day you were born your parents gave you three treasures, they gave you a mind, They gave you a body and they gave you the Qi, the Chinese word for the body”s energy and the connections between the mind and the body. These are the three treasures in traditional Chinese medicine, the san bao.

In Taoist Chinese yoga practices, these day’s known in the west as Qigong, it is your duty as a human being to cultivate all three treasures throughout your life. Qigong practices seek to strengthen the body and keep it healthy. To improve breathing function, diet nutrition and herbs are used to improve the body’s energy levels. Last but not least Qigong practices look to strengthen the mind and keep learning and strengthen the connections between the mind and the body. Ultimately in Qigong the mind becomes the center of command control and coordination, and the body becomes a fit instrument with the strength and vigor to execute the minds will and engage the world. 

The San Bao: The Three Treasures

The body, from the dna, to all the hormonal systems to the physical structure of the body are called jing. The Qi refers to the energy in the body, from the energy we get from the air that we breathe to the food that we eat and the energy it provides. Qi also refers to the distribution of that energy throughout the body. The shen refers to consciousness itself, it includes the normal thinking mind designed to solve problems, it also refers to meditative states of consciousness involving the higher aspirations of the human spirit. Together these are known as the three treasures cultivating the three treasures has been a central tenet in Chinese culture since prehistoric times. The ancient Chinese Taoist alchemists thought of spirituality and development and health as being like a laboratory science. Modern science historians credit the ancient Taoist alchemists with the development of things like chemistry and metallurgy in their experiments trying to understand nature and improve things. Their main interest was improving the human mind spirit and body.

In his 36,000 page “Science and Civilization in China” professor Joseph Needham from Cambridge referred to cultivating the three treasures as a sort of psycho physiological alchemy.

Phenotypic Plasticity

In modern biology the basic theory behind Taoist yoga is called phenotypic plasticity. Basically any system in the body or mind, improves in it’s structure and function when energy is applied.

When to apply energy to your muscles by exercising they get stronger. When you apply energy to your brain by using it, it gets smarter. The Qigong masters over the centuries have applied this theory in all sorts of way’s from improving health to the arts and sciences.

Medical, Martial, Scholarly and Spiritual

Qigong techniques were developed by three main sources through history.

Martial Arts

Martial artist developed many forms of Qigong made famous in modern times by the Shaolin monastery where the monks have developed their phenotypes with incredible physical skills like Iron palm Qigong and Iron Shirt Qigong.

Traditional Chinese medicine 

Medical Qigong was developed has a way of doing the patient become an active participant in their own healing as a result of that over thousands of years the Chinese are developed meditations and exercises to help with just about every medical condition known to man.

Scholar Qigong

Scholar Qigong over centuries many Chinese scholars especially from Confucianist backgrounds develop forms of chicken that became the arts art music poetry, calligraphy and many other Chinese arts were developed as forms of meditation for the cultured person to develop their mind and their artistic skills.

Spiritual Qigong

Meditation and spiritual practices and many of the monasteries in China of both Taoist and Buddhist traditions developed many mind body Qigong exercises for spiritual development and the seeking of a deeper understanding of the universe in which we live

Qigong Becomes a Way of Life

The skillful practice of T’ai Chi and Qi Gong requires a voluntary shift in kinesthetic awareness toward improved control of the body and enjoyment of sensation and motion. By focusing upon sensory awareness in physical activity, exercise becomes a joyous artistic performance where all separation between mind and body disappear and a new perception of life emerges. This is similar to what psychologists call a “flow state” and what the great Chinese philosopher Chuang Tzu considered to be the right way to live life and motivate people to live a healthier life.  Changes in skill and enjoyment of healthy lifestyles, change the way we perceive health behaviors, thereby enhancing motivation and readiness to change behavior.

Considering the scope of Qigong and it’s long history there are literally thousands of Qigong exercises. When people ask me what is Qigong that’s a difficult question to answer because there’s so many different varieties of Qigong it kind of depends on what the person is interested in. Cultivating the three treasures is different for everyone but it really doesn’t matter. It is enjoyable to live your live to the fullest and try to cultivate every aspect. Qigong practice encourages one to enjoy the journey and cultivate mind and body to the fullest.