Qigong (Chinese qìgōng, W.-G. ch'i-kung: cultivation of life energy) or Nei Gong is a daoist meditation-, concentration- and movement-system for the cultivation of body and mind, which is in specific forms also applicated in the Martial Arts (Taijiquan, Baguazhang, Xingyiquan, Shaolin).
Such exercises are often over 1000 years old.
Qigong is traditionally viewed as a practice to cultivate and balance qi (chi). The exercises serve also the transformation of ordinary Qi, which circulates in the body, to a higher form (Lianqi), to gain additional energy directly at Shen level. Therefore, the higher doctrine is also called Xiu Zhen ('understanding'), i. 'Cultivating the truth'. These practices are essential for the higher practices like Neidan. The higher Pranayama techniqs have a similar purpose but the applied techniqs are different.
Qigong practice includes rhythmic breathing exercises, meditation in motion, energy circles along the main meridians and around specific areas of the body, slow-moving body- and movement - exercises, concentration exercises, and meditation exercises to harmonize and regulate and improve the Qi flow in the body and also to eliminate diseases.
The well-known Eighteen Exercises (Liangong shiba fa 练功 十八 法) were published by the Shanghai doctor Zhuang Yuanming (1919-2013), a student of the famous Wushu master Wang Ziping, in the eighties of the last century on behalf of the Chinese government (1973).