What is Qi? (1)

Qi is the vital energy that circulates in our body. It is the life force, the stamina, that propels our actions. It is the impetus that powers our thoughts and feelings. It is the aura around us that affects how we appear to other people. It also stands for the gases found in the atmosphere as well as the scents and vibes of our surroundings. (qì) is all-pervasive and therefore deserves our special attention.

Physical Qi

As a tangible physical substance, (qì) refers to gases, smells, odours and breaths.

氧气 (yǎngqì) is oxygen, and 氮气 (dànqì) is nitrogen.
体操 (tǐcāo) are physical exercises. Therefore, 有氧体操 (yǒu yǎn tǐcāo) are aerobic exercises.

毒气 (dúqì) means a poisonous gas.
蒸气 (zhēngqì) is steam.
气缸 (qìgāng) is an air cylinder.
气动 (qìdòng) means air-powered.

Do not confuse (qì gas) with (qì), which has the water radical on the left side and refers to a fluid, such as 汽水 (qìshuǐ soda drink) and 汽油 (qìyóu gasoline). Cars, being gasoline-powered, are called 汽车 (qìchē).

So, which character would you fill this blank with? ____球 (qìqiú) balloon.

Our sensation of the gases is called 气味 (qìwèi), which are smells, odors or flavors.
香气 (xiāngqì) means good smell, aroma, or fragrance. 臭气 (chòuqì) is a bad smell or a stench.

When you come across an adjective, such as (xiāng fragrant), you will naturally wonder what the opposite word is. In the book, “Learn chinese through Songs and Rhymes”, many commonly used adjectives are presented alongside their antonyms.

Ambient Qi

(qì) also refers to the air, the atmosphere, the weather and the environment.

空气 (kōngqì) is the air we breathe.
大气 (dàqì) is the atmosphere.
天气 (tiānqì) means the weather.
冷气 (lěngqì) means cold air, or air conditioning. Cold air is construed as unfavorable.
冷气机 (lěngqì jī) is an air conditioner.

他倒抽一口冷气.
Tā dào chōu yī kǒu lěngqì.
He gasped.

景气 (jǐngqì) refers to the economic environment. There are no gases or steams involved here. 景气好 (jǐngqì hǎo) describes prosperity and boom. 景气不好 (jǐngqì bù hǎo) describes poor economy.

Physiological Qi

元气 (yuánqì) means vitality or stamina. The Chinese believe that vital energy circulates in the human body along paths called meridians. Think of the acupuncture points as waypoints on a route, at which one could attempt to influence the flow of vital energy via stimulation. Where there is a deficiency, we seek to augment the energy; where there is an excess, we seek to release it; where there is a blockage, we seek to remove it.

气色 (qìsè) refers to one’s facial appearance, which is believed to reflect one’s health or emotional status.

你今天气色很好.
Nǐ jīntiān qìsè hěn hǎo.
You look great (in the sense of being healthy and vigorous) today.

年轻人血气方刚.
Niánqīngrén xiěqìfānggāng.
Young people are full of fresh vigor.

力气 (lìqi) is one’s physical strength.

他的力气很大.
Tā de lìqi hěn dà.
He has great muscular strength.

气功 (qìgōng) is a system of exercises that emphasizes deep breathing techniques.

气管 (qìguǎn) is the windpipe. 气喘 (qìchuǎn) is asthma, but 喘气 (chuǎnqì) means to pant, as when one runs out of air.

嗳气 (ǎiqì) or 打嗝 (dǎgé) means to belch.

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