Qigong is a Chinese practice that involves various types of physical movement — some borrowed from martial arts — visualization techniques and controlled breathing to improve physical, mental and spiritual well-being. There are several different types of Qigong, and one of them is Guolin Qigong, sometimes spelled Guo Lin Qigong and also known as walking Qigong. Guolin Qigong focuses on deep breathing and visualization while walking and performing different arm, hand and other body movements. The walking and other exercises are thought by practitioners to have beneficial effects, like relaxing the mind and body and improving blood flow and oxygen intake, resulting in improved health. This form of Qigong was developed in the 1960s and 1970s by a Chinese woman named Guo Lin, who based this new practice on older schools of Qigong and claimed that it helped her overcome uterine cancer.
Practitioners of Guolin Qigong can walk at various speeds, from slow to fast, and often walk for up to two hours or more while performing specific visualizations, breathing patterns, and movements. The physical movements are often performed in a relaxed, gentle tempo. There are various types of walking Qigong exercises one can learn and practice, but most share a focus on breathing as well as controlled physical movements and posture. Some common Guolin Qigong exercises are the Wind Healing Walk, which involves deep, forceful breathing and brisk walking, and the Eagle Walk, which involves wing-like arm movements.
Guolin Qigong is sometimes called healing Qigong because of its origins as a therapeutic practice. Practicing this type of Qigong for health is common in China and has increased in popularity in other parts of the world, including the United States and Europe. It is believed that the exercises can help reduce stress and improve physical health. Some proponents of Guolin Qigong also claim that the exercises help blood and vital energy, called qi in Chinese, flow more freely through the body, and that this can cure diseases such as cancer and diabetes.
Not all claims about Guolin Qigong's ability to cure disease and improve physical health have been scientifically proven. It is known that many forms of exercise, including walking and relaxation techniques such as controlled breathing, can be beneficial for the body, improving cardiovascular health and reducing stress and anxiety. In China today, various forms of Qigong, including Guolin Qigong, are used to treat conditions such as back pain, hypertension, and arthritis.