Qi Gong and Nei Gong are somewhat interchangeable terms for “internal exercises” that focus on the breath, the internal dynamics of the body, body alignment and the circulation of the channels and collaterals (meridians). Qi Gong exercises are important tools for maintaining health and nourishing life. Internal exercises also function as the “physical therapy” of traditional Chinese medicine, because specific Qi Gong exercises can be prescribed for specific medical conditions.
Internal exercises form the foundational training of the internal martial arts. Specific Qi Gong and Nei Gong practices that develop inner strength and correct body structure prepare the body to develop the core for the more specific martial training that follows. In Tai Ji Quan and Xing Yi Quan, standing exercises, stance holding and Tu Na (breathing exercises) serve this purpose. In Ba Gua Zhang, Nei Gong primarily involves circular walking and turning while holding fixed postures that stimulate and open the meridians.