Qigong is a huge and fascinating subject, and there are a great many excellent books and other resources now available to help the Westerner with an interest in finding out more about it.
The books reviewed below will give you a philosophical grounding and general overview of Qigong – its history, science, many styles and applications. These are suitable for beginners and those who simply want to find out what Qigong is all about. I have included a short description of each, which I hope will help you to select the right book for you!
1: Kenneth S. Cohen: The Way of Qigong
Ballantine Books, 1997
Kenneth Cohen’s book is nothing short of a classic! Subtitled “The Art and Science of Chinese Energy Healing”, it provides a comprehensive overview of the core concepts and applications of Qigong, including the use of Qigong as a healing art and an in-depth look at sitting Qigong mediation.
The book includes instructions for many simple Qigong forms, and places Qigong firmly in the context of other Daoist practices, including diet, massage, and advanced breathing techniques. [428 pages]
2: Daniel Reid: A Complete Guide to Chi-Gung
Shambhala Publications, 2000
An alternative (or supplement!) to Kenneth Cohen’s book, again giving a comprehensive overview of the history, core concepts and practices of Qigong, Daniel Reid takes a slightly more populist approach in his writing, providing a highly readable account of the subject.
The book includes plenty of practical advice, and is easy to follow. Highly recommended! [326 pages]
3: Chris Jarmey: The Theory and Practice of Taiji Qigong
Lotus Publishing Ltd (3rd Edition, 2011)
The bulk of Chris Jarmey’s excellent introduction is taken up with detailed instructions for the 18-step Taiji Qigong Shibashi form, which also provides many of the exercises included within Piano Qigong, making it a particularly good supplement to the material provided here on Pianodao.
In addition to the detailed instructions for the set, the book includes a superb explanation of Qigong practice and concepts, including some of the clearest guidance I have found anywhere. Essential reading! [192 pages]
4: Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming: Eight Simple Qigong Exercises for Health
YMAA Publication Centre, 1988
Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming is a renowned writer and teacher of Qigong, with thirty five years experience and a large number of publications and videos available from his in-house organisation YMAA Publication Centre. This particular book includes a very good and fairly easy Qigong set popularly known as “Ba Duan Jin” or “The Eight Brocades”.
Dr. Yang’s books are characterised by providing an in-depth theoretical background, and there is a huge amount of information within this slim volume. The videos originally produced to accompany the practical instructions are now available as a multi-platform app, which I would highly recommend alongside the book itself. [96 pages]
5: Master Waysun Liao: Chi – Discovering Your Life Energy
Shambhala Publications, 2005, 2009
This is a little book that you will read in an afternoon – but I think it is brilliant, and that it is one to come back to again and again! In a popular writing style, the author explains in simple terms (no theory or technicalities here!) what Qi – or Chi – is, and how to connect with yours.
The book also includes a photographic introduction to a simple Qigong set. Great stuff! [156 pages]