In Chinese, Qi (氣) refers to any kind of energy in general. In Qigong terms specifically, it is the vital energy or life force, and the energy of the universe. The Heaven Qi, Earth Qi, and our own Human Qi, are the 3 common energy manifestations that Qigong practitioners aim to tap into and refine.
In Chinese culture, Qi (or Chi), is an integral part of any living thing in the Universe. When translated literally, it means "breath" or "air." The Traditional Chinese character for Qi (氣) is composed of 2 parts: the top part (气) means steam, rising from rice (米), the bottom character.
The alternative ancient way of writing Qi stems from Taoist tradition, and was created to express the meaning of the Qi of breath, related to the cultivation of Qi, as in Qigong. The literal meaning of this way of writing Qi is "no fire."
Qi provides energy to run the functions of our body and is affected by the quality of air you inhale, the kind of food you eat, your lifestyle, and your emotional wellbeing. Qi can be divided into 2 main categories based on its function: the Ying Qi, and Wei Qi. Ying Qi manages and controls the functioning of the body, and Wei Qi, or Guardian Qi, protects you from negative outside force by forming an energy shield close to the surface of the body. In the human energy system, Qi flows through 12 major pathways in the body, called Meridians, and is stored in 3 major energy centers, called Dantians.
When your Qi energy is strong and pure, your body is naturally vibrant and healthy.