Qigong (chee gung)

Transformative Wellbeing and Integrative Therapy Practice


  • Marzia Anna Coltri Arden University




Asian Spiritualities, Integrative Therapy, Gen Z, Qigong, Wellbeing


Qigong, like other Eastern techniques such as yoga and mindfulness meditation, has been shown to be beneficial for mental and physical health and has been a topic of debate in academic and scientific literature in recent decades. Qigong, which has been practised in China since ancient times, is becoming increasingly popular in the West. This article first examines the philosophical and spiritual roots of Qigong and how it has evolved in modernity. Second, it focuses on wellbeing-related issues based on the experiences of the researchers and practitioners who worked with clients ranging from members of Generation Z to older adults. Qigong practitioners frequently describe their technique as delivering a sense of inner serenity, relaxation, and mental clarity. Third, I challenge the various Qigong presumptions that are problematic in mainstream Western medical science, drawing on a variety of examples. Medical Qigong claims to boost cognitive capacities and concentration and provide physical benefits such as greater strength, balance and flexibility, as well as a sense of wellbeing. Stress and anxiety levels are also said to be reduced, according to studies. These claims, and the location of Qigong in the contemporary Western spiritual landscape, are evaluated.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

  • Marzia Anna Coltri, Arden University

    Marzia A. Coltri is a Lecturer at Arden University (UK)’s Institute of Foundation Studies. She studied feminist and postcolonial critique, minority cultures, and counselling. Her doctoral dissertation, Beyond Rastafari: An Historical and Theological Introduction, was published by Peter Lang (2015). She has taught religion, social sciences, and critical thinking in Italy, the United Kingdom, and Saudi Arabia, among other places.


Ames, Roger T. 2022 Zhu Xi. Encyclopedia Britannica. Online: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Zhu-Xi (accessed 10 December 2022).

Arya, Narendra K., Kamlesh Singh, Anushree Malik and Rahul Mehrotra 2018 Effect of Heartfulness Cleaning and Meditation on Heart Rate Variability. Indian Heart Journal 70: S50–S55. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ihj.2018.05.004

Chryssides, George D. 2012 Historical Dictionary of New Religious Movements. 2nd edn. Plymouth: The Scarecrow Press.

Cipolotti, Lisa et al. 2022 Graph Lesion-Deficit Mapping of Fluid Intelligence. Brain 146(1): 167–81. https://doi.org/10.1093/brain/awac304

Clarke, Tainya C., Lindsey I. Black, Barbara J. Stussman, Patricia M. Barnes and Richard L. Nahin 2015 Trends in the Use of Complementary Health Approaches among Adults: United States, 2002–2012. National Health Statistics Reports 79: 1.

Data Team 2019 Generation Z is Stressed, Depressed and Exam-obsessed. The Economist, 27 February. Online: https://www.economist.com/graphic-detail/2019/02/27/generation-z-is-stressed-depressed-and-exam-obsessed (accessed 1 January 2023).

Deadman, Peter 2014 A Brief History of Qigong. Journal of Chinese Medicine 105: 5–17.

Dilmock, Michael 2019 Defining Generations: Where Millennials End and Generation Z Begins. Pew Research Center. Online: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/01/17/where-millennials-end-and-generation-z-begins/ (accessed 3 September 2022).

Fonseca, Alexandra, David Tomé and Fernanda Gentil 2015 Posturographic Assessment in Yoga Practitioners and Non-Practitioners: Balance Benefits. In I Congresso Internacional de Audiologia, 9–10 October 2015, Portugal, 62–63.

Fossella, Tina 2011 Human Nature, Buddha Nature. Tricycle: The Buddhist Review. Online: https://tricycle.org/magazine/human-nature-buddha-nature/ (accessed 1 October 2022).

Frankel, Richard 1998 The Adolescent Psyche. London and New York: Routledge.

Funk, Michelle, Benedetto Saraceno, Natalie Drew and Edwige Faydi 2008 Integrating Mental Health into Primary Healthcare. Mental Health in Family Medicine 5(1): 5–8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2777555/

Gaik, Frances 2010 Qigong as an Alternative and Complimentary Treatment for Depression. Saarbrücken: Lambert Academic Publishing.

Galanter, Marc 1997 Spiritual Recovery Movements and Contemporary Medical Care. Psychiatry 60(3): 211–23. https://doi.org/10.1080/00332747.1997.11024799

Gardner, Fiona 2013 Self-Harm. London and New York: Taylor & Francis. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203193990

Georgiou, Andreas, and Shivani Chheda 2020 Gen Z’s Approach to Wellbeing. Stress Matters.Online: https://stressmatters.org.uk/gen-zs-approach-to-wellbeing/ (accessed 13 October 2022).

Hoge, Elizabeth A., Eric Bui, Mihriye Mete, Mary Ann Dutton, Amanda W. Baker and Naomi M. Simon 2022 Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction vs Escitalopram for the Treatment of Adults with Anxiety Disorders: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Psychiatry 80(1): 13–21. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2022.3679

Kohn, Livia 1987 Seven Steps to the Tao: Sima Chengzhen’s Zowanglun. Netettal, West Germany: Skyler Verlag.

Laozi 2003 Tao Te Ching. Translated by Jonathan Star. New York: Tarcher.

Ling, Li 2001 A Study on Chinese Occult Arts, Zhongguo fangshu kao. Beijing: Eastern Press.

Liu, Tianjun 2013 Chinese Medical Qigong. 2nd edn. London and Philadelphia: Singing Dragon.

Liu, Xin et al. 2015 A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of the Effects of Qigong and Tai Chi for Depressive Symptoms. Complementary Therapies in Medicine 23(4): 516–34. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctim.2015.05.001

Lu, Erin Y., et al. 2020 Qigong for the Treatment of Depressive Symptoms: Preliminary Evidence of Neurobiological Mechanisms. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry 35(11): 1393–1401. https://doi.org/10.1002/gps.5380

Nyblade, Laura, Melissa A. Stockton, Kayla Giger et al. 2019 Stigma in Health Facilities: Why It Matters and How We Can Change It. BMC Medicine 17(1): 1–15. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12916-019-1256-2

Palmer, David A. 2007 Qigong Fever. New York: Columbia University Press.

Patterson, Elissa F. 1998 The Philosophy and Physics of Holistic Health Care: Spiritual Healing as a Workable Interpretation. Journal of Advanced Nursing 27: 287–93. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-2648.1998.00533.x

Penny, Benjamin 2012 The Religion of Falun Gong. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. https://doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226655024.001.0001

The Qi 2019 The What and How of Qigong. The Qi. Online: https://the-qi.com/blogs/journal/the-what-and-how-of-qigong (accessed 6 January 2023).

Reeves, Andrew, and Tim Bond 2021 Standards and Ethics for Counselling in Action. 5th edn. London: Sage.

Sancier, Kenneth M. 1996 Medical Applications of Qigong. Alternative Therapies 2(1): 40–46.

Tzu, Lao, and Jwing-Ming Yang 2018 The Dao De Jing. 1st edn. Wolfeboro, NH: YMAA Publication Center Inc. Online: https://www.perlego.com/book/1422640/the-dao-de-jing-a-qigong-interpretation-pdf (accessed 3 November 2022).

United Nations 2022 The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2022. Online: https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/report/2022/The-Sustainable-Development-Goals-Report-2022.pdf (accessed 3 November 2022).

USCIRF 2022 United States Commission on International Religious Freedom: 2022 Annual Report. Online: https://www.uscirf.gov/sites/default/files/2022-04/2022%20USCIRF%20Annual%20Report_1.pdf (accessed 4 July 4 2023).

Vergeer, Ineke, et al. 2017 Participation Trends in Holistic Movement Practices: A 10-Year Comparison of Yoga/Pilates and T’ai Chi/Qigong Use among a National Sample of 195,926 Australians. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 17(1): 1–13. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12906-017-1800-6

Vergeer, Ineke, Mattias Johansson and Jonathan Y. Cagas 2021 Holistic Movement Practices: An Emerging Category of Physical Activity for Exercise Psychology. Psychology of Sport and Exercise 53: 101870. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychsport.2020.101870

Wang, Chenchen, Raveendhara Bannuru, Judith Ramel, Bruce Kupelnick, Tammy Scott and Christopher H. Schmid 2010 Tai Chi on Psychological Well-being: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 10(1): 1–16. https://doi.org/10.1186/1472-6882-10-23

Woodhead, Linda, Hiroko Kawanami and Christopher Partridge 2009 Religions in the Modern World: Traditions and Transformations. 2nd edn. London and New York: Routledge.

Yang, Jwing.-Ming 2005 The Root of Chinese Qigong. 2nd edn. Wolfeboro, NH: YMAA Publication Center Inc.

Zheng, Bocheng 1986 The King of Medicine: Sun Simiao. Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine 6(4): 210–11.






How to Cite

Coltri, M. A. (2023). Qigong (chee gung): Transformative Wellbeing and Integrative Therapy Practice. Fieldwork in Religion, 18(2), 200–216. https://doi.org/10.1558/firn.26526