The subject of Qigong is a difficult one to come to terms with on many levels though we live in a time in which it has become very popular again, both in the West and in China.
I won’t try to summarize any aspect of this exercise/meditative umbrella of practises except to say that many taiji teachers have said that our discipline is not a form of qigong and that such supplementary exercises are not useful to developing any of the six Family styles of taijquan and their attributes.
One of the exceptions to this is the practise of standing quietly for extended periods of time [5-30 minutes] before and/or after doing any of the traditional Yang solo forms. Since I am, foremost, a Yang style practitioner, I will let one of the acknowledged masters of that art voice his opinion on this from "The Essence and Applications of Taijiquan" by Yang Cheng fu  , translated in 2005 by Louis Swaim and published in 2005. It summarizes neatly the Yang Family approach to standing still as being an integral part of learning and practising that discipline
Standing still seems like a strange idea for many beginners and many practitioners resist the suggestion in favour of practising movement as the latter seems to be more important for health from a Western perspective. From a pragmatic point of view as an aging practitioner, I agree and there is no doubt in my mind that movement is essential to all of us and especially as we age. After all, isn’t that the basic definition of Death — a permanent abscence of movement on a cellular level. I would also suggest that if you are only willing to do one or the other, than choose movement for the sake of your health.
After a period of not having done much of this I find that I am drifting coming back to adding it to my daily routine. However, the methods I use are relatively simple [like the one recommended by Yang Chengfu] and I do them as much for their beneficial effect on posture as for the the mental/spiritual benefits such training can bring when done regularly and moderatly. In addition, any method of standing still from a martial perspective is never about being as physically and mentally still as you can be whether the posture held is difficult or easy; rather, it is about subtle movement of the entire torso in synchrony with the a slow and even rate of breathing.
Ideally, there is stillness in movement and movement in stillness. A more traditional perspective might be that stillness is the Yin to the Yang activity of movement and that both are essential as a way of creating a balanced whole. Like the famous Taiji symbol itself which, incidentally, refers more to the interplay of those two forces than it does to studying either in isolation from each other.
For many years, I did a variety of relatively complex and/or demanding for-health as well as martial standing methods and I don't regret most of what I did in terms of such training -- but I wouldn't recommend or repeat most of it either. Particularly for those interested in the martial side of disciplines like taijiquan and baguazhang; I no longer think that kind of training adds much to martial ability beyond teaching people who are “jittery” the value of breathing deeply while calming the Monkey Mind as it jumps around screaming metaphorically for attention and distraction.
On the other hand, those with experience in meditation of any kind sometimes make very good students of the IMA compared to the unrepentent jittery types who often have done purely physical training that relies on muscle and speed more than on smoothness and applied relaxation [e.g., in regards to the latter imagine the movement of a cat as opposed to the looseness of a bowl of jelly].
I have often wondered if our love/hate relationship with being still has something to do with our millions of years of history as hunter/gatherers. The ability to be still to keep the cave bears from noticing your presence or for enticing a deer within spear range was an essential quality for our ancestors. One that must have seeped into the gene pool as the patient and still hunters would be more likely to survive to breed while the others slowly starved to death or took up scavenging!
Perhaps there is some truth to this theory as, years ago, one of my students was an anthropologist who had spent much time styling shamanism in Canadian aboriginal communities. He had often spent weeks in the bush with elders, hunting and fishing, and he often commented on how how those old men could stay perfectly still and silent -- sometimes for hours -- while waiting for their prey. You can't be that still in body if you can't be still in the mind as well!
Oh, and from what I have seen over the decades, it's also important to remember that even the most quiet and gentle method can be addictive for those with the mental quirks to fall prey to doing any habit to excess and/or can also be physically damaging for the joints if done excessively or without sufficient attention to what your body is doing while trying to be still. As with any method of training, it is important to learn even simple methodologies from a teacher who can actually do the methods in question and who is able to help you do the same.
In addition, any method is not necessarily better because it has a longer genealogy or is wrapped up in an attractive cultural package. Perhaps it would help to remember the words of a long-dead Roman Stoic, Seneca, who wrote "Will I not walk in the footsteps of my predecessors? I will indeed use the ancient road — but if I find another route that is more direct and has fewer ups and downs, I will stake out that one. Those who advanced these doctrines before us are not our masters but our guides.”
Copyright © Michael A. Babin, 2018
43+ Years of Experience Training in the Chinese martial arts; 33+ years experience teaching taijiquan and 24+ years experience teaching baguazhang