Beginning Qigong

Different Type of Qigong

There are so many different types of qigong around. Thousands of them. For anyone who is beginning qigong, it can be quite confusing. Which one should they choose?

Even for those who have been practicing qigong for a while, they may also sometimes wonder whether they are in the right type of program. 

Well, there’s no simple answer to it, and I have no intention to give you a simple answer in this article. What I’d like to do is to outline to you the types of qigong exercises that are available to you so that it can help you to make a decision in one way or another.

I’d like to categorize the qigong exercises into four types. But do bear in mind that this is only one of the ways to categorize qigong. You can do it in several other ways, which is what I’d do as well to make the background of the exercises clearer so that you can benefit more from it. 

The four types of qigong that I would like to introduce today are:

  1. Motionless
  2. Moving
  3. Medical
  4. Spontaneous

What’s the difference among them. 


This most popular among motionless qigong the standing meditation.You just stand there, doing nothing. It’s also known as zhan zhuang, which is a standing pole. You just stand like a tree, rather than a pole. A tree is living. It’s vibrant inside you when you are doing the exercise.


Most qigong exercises that we know are the moving qigong. You move your body. Most of them still get you to be stationary. You stay at the same place. In fact, it’s the advantage of doing qigong exercises. You don’t need a lot of space because you don’t move around. But there are also qigong exercises that get you to move around. In that sense, I’d say that Tai Chi is a form of qigong. 


Medical qigong is meant to heal, and has a clear healing objective. In a way, ba duan, also known as The Eight Brocades and is very popular, is one of them.Every of its movements has a specific medical objective.Even then, most people practice it as a moving qigong in general. People are doing it for health rather than healing.

Among the medical qigong are those prescribed by healers, which are very flexible depending on the kind of problems you try to overcome. 


This type of qigong is in free form. You don’t know what you’re going to do in the exercise. Your body will tell you what to do. One of them is 五禽戏, which is known as the five animal qigong. Developed by Hua Tuo, a very well-known Chinese physician in history, there are two ways to perform the exercise, One is with and the other without form. I enjoy doing the spontaneous one. It’s fascinating. But you’d need a good teacher to be around to get started. Otherwise, you run the risks of your body moving uncontrolled without knowing what to do.  

Choosing among different types of qigong

Your inclination

You may not know it, but you have a special inclination for certain types of qigong. You’d not know it until you try them out. There’re people who don’t enjoy doing moving qigong, and others can’t sustain more than two minutes when you ask them to stand stationary without moving. You won’t know your inclination with certainty until you try the different forms of exercise.

Availability of teachers 

Another key factor is the availability of good teachers. If you are lucky enough to have a good qigong teacher, it’s going to make your practice a lot more effective. However, good qigong teachers are not easy to come by, so learn from them if you have one around.  

Time-tested programs

In general, I’d suggest that you pick a proven program. For me, I like well-tested programs, which have been around for not only hundreds but also thousands of years. Ba duan jin and yi jin jing a good examples. They are well choreographed and proven to be effective. And I have a lot of references to read to perform them more holistically.

If you have a good teacher around, they’d usually have a hand-picked program collection. It doesn’t matter whether they’re new or old. You can rely on your teacher to guide you, and they’ve proven in a sense..

Although I can’t give you a specific answer, I hope I’ve provided you with a good reference and something to think about when choosing among the different types of qigong programs.

About the Author

Tekson Teo has practiced qigong for more than four decades and is a disciple of an ancient tai chi lineage. His passion for Tao’s philosophy, for which he has written three books, allows him to dive deep into the qigong and tai chi practices. Being a management consultant for a substantial time, he is familiar with the modern world’s challenges, making his teaching practical and relevant. Tekson graduated from the University of London with BSc (Econ) Hon and Imperial College London with MBA and DIC.

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