Qigong is best, and most simply described, as a moving meditation. For those people (I'm one of them, depending on the day), who have trouble sitting while meditating—many of us sit all day and need more movement in our lives — it can be the solution to the challenge of consistently practicing a mind-calming exercise. The movement, in addition to the breathing and mind-clearing, could be just what you need to get you into the meditation space daily.
Traditional Chinese Qigong is is all about aligning body, breath and mind via a series of movements, and it has been shown to have mental (reducing anxiety and stress) and physical health benefits (lowering blood pressure, better sleep).
The nuts and bolts of the practice are simple: It is a combination of slow, flowing movements, deep breathing and a calm mind. It comes from a combination of traditional Chinese martial arts, medicine and philosophy, and within China, there are a few variations on the practice. It was banned during the Cultural Revolution in 1962, and was made legal again in 1976, but that's just a blip in the history of Qigong, which has been practiced in a variety of ways for more than 4,000 years.
One way to see if Qigong is right for you is to try out a couple of the exercises and see how they feel. Remember, there are many different types of Qigong, and what I've chosen here is not representative of all of them. When you hear the teachers mention "chi" or qi, they are referring to life force or life energy.
This is one of the simplest Qigong movements and often begins a Qigong session.
This set of moves is simple and relaxing, and can be done by almost anyone, regardless of age or ability.
This simple series shows how the Qigong movements work together.
The video above emphasizes the breath aspect of Qigong, and is a great way to relieve in-the-moment stress or begin a longer workout.
Another simple exercise to try.
If you are looking for something invigorating, rather than relaxing, the exercises above could be combined with other exercises to warm you up or get you going in the morning.