Qi means life-force or vitality, and gong means “practice,” so QIGONG is the practice of cultivating vitality. The first records of qigong date back 10,000 years. Until about thirty years ago, however, qigong was not widely practiced, even in China. Qigong forms were passed through family lineages, much like healing traditions among Native American people. Usually the information was shared only with the males in the family. Three decades ago certain qigong practitioners and healers decided to share their knowledge with the general public. Men and women began to learn and practice qigong in the public parks in China. Twenty years ago these practices began to filter into North America and Europe. I practiced qigong for nearly three years before I understood how fortunate we are to have access to qigong in the west. I also deeply appreciate that women are practicing and teaching qigong, both inside and outside China.

Who would benefit from practicing qigong? Anyone wanting to improve physical health, mental clarity, emotional balance and/or spiritual vitality will benefit from qigong. Practicing qigong can increase energy, improve concentration and focus, and develop peace of mind. In addition, clinical studies in China have demonstrated that can qigong can address chronic illnesses, including cancer.

Are the exercises difficult? The movements are simple and slow and do not require great athletic ability. In fact, elderly, wheelchair-bound and terminally ill patients can easily perform these exercises.

Do I have to adopt a new philosophy or religion to learn qigong? No, qigong is not a religion. Many practitioners do experience increased peace and openheartedness. These changes are a result of practice, though, not from adopting a new belief system or religious doctrine.

How much do I need to practice to see benefits? For most people, 30 – 40 minutes per day is recommended.

Dr. Boice has completed teacher certification programs for three forms of Qigong:

  • Essence Qigong
  • Soaring Crane Qigong
  • Awakening Light Gong

Dr. Boice is willing to travel to teach in your area. Please click HERE if you are interested in organizing a qigong class where you live.

Medical Research on Qigong
As qigong becomes better known in China as well as the rest of the world, more and more researchers are exploring its medical benefits. One large study funded by the Chinese government examined the effects of different forms of medical qigong on cancer patients. The most effective form requires four hours of daily practice. The second most effective form, Soaring Crane Qigong, requires only 40-45 minutes of daily practice.

One cancer study conducted in Beijing (Kuangan Men’s Hospital) compared patients who took chemotherapy alone with those who combined chemotherapy and qigong. Among those who took only chemotherapy, 6.67% had normalized liver function, 10% had normal erythrocyte sedimentation (a measure of inflammation in the body), 7.87% had decreased phagocytosis (a measure of how well white blood cells work), and 10% had improved appetite. In contrast, the group that combined chemotherapy and qigong showed improvement in all areas. 20.62% had normal liver function (over 3 times the rate of the chemotherapy alone group); 23.7 1% had normal erythrocyte sedimentation rates; 12.31% had increased phagocytosis rates; and 63% had improved appetite (more than 6 times as many as the chemotherapy alone group).

Other studies with similar design (drugs alone vs. drugs combined with qigong) demonstrated improvements for several major diseases:
• Patients with high blood pressure who combined qigong and medications had lower stroke and mortality rates, and reduced dosages of blood pressure medication.
• Asthma patients who practiced qigong required lower drug doses, missed fewer days of work, had fewer hospital stays, and reduced treatment costs.
• Cancer patients had fewer side effects from cancer treatments.
• Qigong improved the efficacy of drug addiction rehabilitation.
• Patients with chronic low back pain who practiced qigong improved in pain perception ratings, mood, and functional status.
• Patients suffering with chronic fatigue syndrome who practiced qigong at least three days a week were 2.7 times more likely to report a “positive 12-month Health Transition” than those practicing less.

Professor Fu Yin Chen, director of the Chinese Academy of Somatic Sciences, developed Chinese Essence Qigong after years of research and discussion among scientists, traditional Chinese medicine experts, philosophers and the major Qigong masters in China. Professor Fu Yin Chen, introduced Essence Qigong to the public in 1987. He began teaching the form in North America in 1994, and hundreds of American students have learned since.

Chinese Essence Qigong distills the essence of the five major types of Qigong in China: Confucionist, Buddhist, Daoist, medical, and martial art Qigong. This form has all the merits of both traditional and contemporary Qigong. Essence Qigong is easy to learn and harmonizes body, spirit and mind. Through years of practice by thousands of people, this form has been proven to be very effective in eliminating diseases, improving health, balancing emotions and refining the spirit.

Please note: practice of this form is strongly contra-indicated for those diagnosed with schizophrenia, borderline personality, bipolar disorder, and other disorders of this nature.

Essence Qigong Level I
This is an 8 hour class for beginners with a 2 hour follow up decided by class.

Essence Qigong Level II
Students who have completed 180 hours of Essence Qigong practice are eligible for the Level II class. This is two-day training usually is scheduled over a weekend.

Essence Qigong Teacher Certification Program
Students who have completed Level II and practiced at least 180 hours are eligible to attend the three-day teacher training. To see the schedule of classes click here.

A contemporary form of qigong developed by Master Zhao, Jin-xiang, Soaring Crane Qigong draws upon the movements of the crane, long known as symbols of health and longevity in China. This form coordinates movements and mental focus to help access your own innate healing energy. The movements of this particular qigong form are clear cut and easy to learn. With practice, the qi quickly cleanses the channels and strengthens the body’s immune system, often causing noticeable results in a short period of time. In addition to improving physical health, you may also notice increased mental clarity, creativity and intuition. More than just physical exercise, the practice of Soaring Crane Qigong decreases tension and stress, leading to more clarity, peace and happiness.

Zhao, Jin-xiang developed Soaring Crane Qigong to bring the healing benefits of qigong to the general public. In 1979 he began teaching in a public park in Beijing, China. He started with nine students, some of whom were seriously ill. All of them regained excellent health and became the first teachers of this qigong form. Today, over twenty million people all over the world practice Soaring Crane Qigong.

Please note: practice of this form is strongly contra-indicated for those diagnosed with schizophrenia, borderline personality, bipolar disorder, and other disorders of this nature.

Awakening Light Gong is a contemporary form of practice that brings light into the body for physical, mental, emotional and spiritual healing. According to Daoist understanding, the Dao is unseen and exists forever. The Dao is manifested in light, and light is manifested in qi. With a background in music, I think of these three aspects – spirit, light and qi – as octaves of the same note. Each octave lower brings pure spirit into denser, more physical form – and physical form continues to “vibrate” with spirit as well. In truth, the physical and spiritual worlds cannot be separated.

Master Liang, Guang Hua developed Awakening Light Gong after over 50 years studying Buddhhist teachings and practicing Zen meditation. Although outwardly simple, this form is a very powerful, advanced type of gong.

Master Liang introduced Awakening Light Gong publicly in China in the 1980s. This form combines the teachings of Tibetan Secret Buddhism, Daoism and Traditional Chinese Medicine. Millions of people have practiced this form and recovered from cancer, diabetes, arthritis, cardiovascular diseases, and many other chronic diseases. Awakening Light Gong also has aided practitioners in their spiritual growth.

Due to his virtue and the effectiveness of the form he developed, Master Liang, Guang Hua has been honored as one of the greatest qigong masters in China’s history. Although Master Liang, Guang Hua is now gone, his great merits and contributions to society will remain in people’s hearts forever.

Please note: practice of this form is strongly contra-indicated for those diagnosed with schizophrenia, borderline personality, bipolar disorder, and other disorders of this nature.

Awakening Light Gong is a six-hour class that includes an instruction book and CD.

Experiences with Qigong

Judith Boice, N.D., L.Ac. certified Soaring Crane Qigong, Essence Qigong, and Awakening Light Gong instructor
Exhaustion motivated me to practice qigong. Soon after graduating from naturopathic medical school and acupuncture school, I took a job that required me to travel 20 to 25 days a month. After 18 months, I was emotionally and physically drained. I loved the teaching aspect of the job but quit because of my rapidly worsening health.

Soon after quitting my job, I attended a weekend Soaring Crane Qigong training with Professor Chen. I practiced diligently over the next year. My energy began to improve. I had fewer colds and improved mental clarity. My adrenal glands slowly rejuvenated.

Within a week of beginning daily Soaring Crane Qigong practice, I had mild cramps in my lower abdomen. I remembered having had severe menstrual cramps as an adult, and a staph infection in my lower intestine as a child. Even now, when I am teaching or intensively practicing qigong for more than a day, I have mild intestinal cramping as that lower abdominal area continues to heal.

I was so enthusiastic about my progress that I enrolled in the teacher training program. I wanted to share this empowering technique with my patients. In the teacher training we continued to refine our practice of Soaring Crane Qigong and also learned Essence and Jade Body Qigong.

Five months into the year-long training, however, I discovered I was pregnant. Perhaps all of the qigong practice contributed to my conceiving twins! Because moving forms of qigong are contraindicated during pregnancy, I had to stop practicing. I resumed my practice after the boys were born.

Six months after their birth, I became a single mother and continued as a solo parent until they were eight years old. During those grueling years, caring for twins and starting a practice in a new town, qigong helped keep me healthy and sane.

In 2007, even with daily qigong practice, I developed severe arthritis. I was undergoing major inner/spiritual changes, and my body was struggling to keep up with the intensity of these recalibrations. I tried numerous natural remedies, without success. In desperation, I began taking 200 – 600 mg of Ibuprofen a day, something I had never done previously. Shortly before starting Awakening Light Gong practice, the pain began to ease. Since practicing Awakening Light Gong on a daily basis, the joint pain has completely resolved. I think of Light Gong supporting me on a higher “octave” than Qigong. I continue to practice both Qigong and Light Gong on a daily basis.

Over the last 12 years of practice, I’ve noticed that I am steadier emotionally. I certainly have not achieved complete peace of mind – not with two very energetic, very challenging boys! Gradually I am less sensitive to others’ emotional upsets, and less reactive to my own emotional turmoil.

I’m passionate about teaching Qigong and Awakening Light Gong because these tools allow people to improve health on their own, instead of passively waiting for the next treatment, supplement or medication. My aim is to offer people as many tools as possible to recover from illness and then build greater and greater levels of health. I also love Qigong and Light Gong because these practices not only improve physical health, they also open doorways to emotional, mental and spiritual evolution as well as.


Patricia Judson, certified Essence Qigong instructor
My name is Patricia Judson. My husband, John Judson, and I have been happily married for 23 years. We own and operate a remote, rustic guest ranch in the south central Rocky Mountains of Colorado. We have three children, all home-schooled here at the ranch. We also raise cattle, dairy goats, chickens and horses. We are creating a type of pleasure/endurance mount we call “Candy Mountain horses.”

Two years ago I was diagnosed with Class III metastatic melanoma. I had three surgeries and underwent one month of intravenous Interferon treatments, and then 11 months of self-injections three times a week.

Before I started Interferon, I attended Essence Qigong classes with Dr. Judith Boice. I started practicing Qigong twice a day and have rarely missed a session.

The first obvious and immediate benefit was the cessation of gut-wrenching, debilitating fear that gripped me off and on throughout the day. I quit worrying about death. That was a tremendous relief. Also, regardless of how sick I felt before Qigong, I was always energized and notably better in every way afterward.

The first week of intravenous Interferon treatments, I would start shaking violently about 20 minutes afterward. The shaking came on in waves, peaked in intensity, slacked very little, and intensified again. The waves felt more like convulsions than chills. This would go on for a couple hours. My temperature would also rise to 102 or 103 degrees Fahrenheit. In spite of how badly I felt, I would practice Qigong, and in 20 minutes I felt fine – no more shakes, and my temperature would plummet to 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. I learned to practice Qigong before I.V. treatments or shots, and if necessary, right afterward.

John and I work with the public six months out of the year and do business in a tourist town the other six months. People from all over the world bring their plagues and pestilence with them on vacation. Because my immune system was so down from chemotherapy, I picked up everything that came along. Some influenza viruses were deadly. I noticed that it took approximately two to three Qigong sessions to wipe out the viruses attacking me. My symptoms were always very slight to barely noticeable until they disappeared completely. I never needed to see a doctor as a result of a virus. Qigong took care of it every time.

There have been many unforeseen, surprising, and welcome benefits performing Qigong that I will not go into here. These things would seem unremarkable to the experienced practitioner. The uninitiated person might consider them to be miraculous or frightening. I consider them to be great gifts from God.

I will never stop Qigong practice and hope to become a certified instructor in the course of time, so that I may help others.

Webmaster’s note: Patty completed the Essence Qigong teacher certification with Dr. Boice in June of 2009.


Catie Bucher, certified Essence Qigong instructor
I have had a spiritual yoga practice since 1983 that includes meditation, pranayama, and various energy practices. I work as a massage therapist and energy healer. I began practicing Essence Qigong in 2007.


At the very beginning, when I was just learning Essence Qigong, a rising of joy came up from my abdomen. As I walked around in my daily life, people kept saying, “Whatever you have, I want.” I could feel the spiritual light coming out of my eyes. I credit Qigong with moving my energy and deepening my spiritual practice by awakening flows I had not been addressing.

Once, following a class, I let a week go by to stabilize my new energy level. The day after I practiced qigong again, I felt the rising of joy from my abdomen.


I’ve had insomnia for ten years. During that time, I slept more than three hours about half of the nights. Since practicing qigong, almost all my insomnia is gone. If I skip qigong for two days, the insomnia comes back.


I’ve experienced bone-deep fatigue for over 10 years. Of all the benefits of qigong, losing the fatigue has been the most important benefit. I can now do three times as much physical activity and only be tired.

Seasonal allergies

For five years I’ve had spring allergies. These are gone.


My ankles were always weak. Until I was about 35, whenever I was tired, I walked on the outside of my ankles. The ligaments and tendons on the outside of the ankles were too loose. The Achilles tendon was too tight. I’ve had six sprained ankles requiring crutches or casts, and innumerable other sprains. For one year I could not walk more than a city block at a time. My ankles swelled up until they were as big as my thighs whenever I walked more. I regained the ability to walk through massage and yoga balancing poses. The ankles remained weak until qigong.

For some months my ankles hurt as they were healing; then, I felt an absence of energy at the ankles – as if they were not connected to my leg. One day, they were extremely painful. Then, as I was walking, all the little bones went into place in my right ankle. Currently, some six months later, the Achilles tendons are stretching (somewhat painfully).