Wellness lexicon

Qi - Life power and life energy

The route of Chinese thinking is the idea of a universal life power, also called life energy – qi in Chinese.

According to traditional Chinese medicine, qi is the life power found in every living creature. Any change or interruption to the flow of life energy can result in illness.

For Chinese people, there isn’t a direct definition of qi. This constantly flowing and changing life energy can only be understood by its effects and functions. In Chinese theory, the cosmic qi flows everywhere in nature, e.g. in the wind or in river water. In the human body, qi is concentrated in the organs and flows in lines, known as Ying in Chinese. Ying means ‘flow through’ or channel. The Europeans compare these channels to the meridian system of the Earth and are known as meridians. The meridians guide the life energy - qi through the top layers of the body, similar to the way in which blood is circulated around the body. Qi also circulates around the internal organs. These two energy circles are connected and function together.

The life energy - qi has very important functions in the body. According to Chinese theory, it is the source of movement in our bodies, either voluntary or involuntary like breathing, blood circulation or the digestive process. Important functions of qi include generating body heat, helping the body to absorb nutrients and getting rid of toxins as well as aiding digestion. According to traditional Chinese medicine, qi can be experienced directly through acupuncture. When placing needles on the body, it triggers a sense of heaviness or a tingling sensation, which the Chinese see as an expression of the flowing qi. When doing qi gong breathing and meditation exercises, it should be felt as a flow in the body or a kind of charge in the hands.

Indian healing medicine also believes in the idea of a universal life energy, which is absorbed through the breath, causing functions in the body to be influenced by breathing exercises. Indian yoga is based on this idea. 

Related topics: Moxibustion , Meridians , Applied kinesiology , Yoga , Tuina Massage , Shiatsu , Qigong , Acupuncture