What is the difference between Yoga and Qigong?
Unlike Qigong, most yoga (with the notable exception of Vinyasa Flow) involves very little, if any, movement. It is movement, and not just deeper breaths, that normally increases the amount of oxygen to the tissues. No amount of deep breathing will produce more oxygen to the system when the blood is already oxygen saturated. Movement is required. Movement is also key to balance and excellent health. There’s the story of Bodhidharma who came from India to China around 500 CE and settled in with the monks at the Shaolin Temple, who were extremely adept at meditative techniques. However, they were not physically fit. Bodhidharma’s moving Qigong practices turned the monks into lean, mean, Kung Fu fighting and meditating machines.
Yoga is based on asana, which are essentially static poses held for varying periods of time. Although the founder of yoga (Patanjali) describes a progression from asanas to pranayama (breath practice), breathing isn’t built-in to a lot of yoga classes or instruction, or it isn’t taught until some skill with asanas is achieved. Another way of saying this is that breathing is incorporated into yoga practice at different times, depending upon the particular style of yoga and the teaching style of the yoga instructor. By following some styles, it can take years before breathing becomes part of the practice. By contrast, breathing is key to Qigong from the start. Furthermore, yoga is harder to do than Qigong, especially for older adults, and yoga does not have practices that involve energy transmission. On the other hand, both can ultimately lead to similar higher levels of spiritual awareness. In terms of public perception, Qigong is where yoga was twenty years ago. Also see Qigong and Yoga.