Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese discipline that integrates mind, body and spirit. Practitioners use meditation and deep breathing as they move through a series of continuous exercises, called ‘forms’, which resemble slow-moving ballet. Tai Chi is a component of Traditional Chinese Medicine(T.C.M.) that works to improve the flow of internal energy (Qi) throughout the body. The central element of practicing Tai Chi focuses on Internal Discipline. That is, how a movement should be made from the internal core of the body – the abdomen and back – rather than from the external parts of the body – the limbs.
Benefits of Tai Chi
Tai Chi, although a martial art, is now mainly practiced for its therapeutic benefits, which include reducing stress, promoting balance and flexibility. Tai Chi can also be used to help Arthritis, Balance, circulation problems, High Blood Pressure, Multiple Sclerosis and stress. Tai Chi can be taught in a class setting or from books and videos. You must wear something comfortable to move around in and it can be done with shoes or bare feet.
What is Qi Gong?
There are four main divisions of Qi Gong, depending on the goal of the practitioner – spiritual, medical, martial, and athletic. However, there is some overlap between the branches. Medical Qi Gong is a branch of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Qi is life energy and TCM says that the health of the body relies upon a smooth flow of Qi within the body. Disease is the result of poor Qi circulation. Balancing the flow of Qi allows the body to heal itself. Gong means work or hard task, and it is the task of learning how to control the flow of Qi through the body using breath, movement, and meditation.
Finding the Right Qi Gong for you
Literally thousands of styles of Qi Gong exist – it is a matter of the student finding the one that is right for them. Some styles are designed for general health and wellbeing and need to be practiced everyday. Others have therapeutic purposes and are designed to treat specific issues. Qi Gong can be practiced by just about anyone, whether they are young or old, active or sedentary. Even disabled people are able to practice it. While there are many styles, they are all based on similar principles: a relaxed, grounded posture; a straight, supple spine; breathing from the diaphragm; fluid movement without excess effort; and tranquil awareness. The quality of the Qi Gong practice is far more important than how often the practice is undertaken. It is far more beneficial to learn one or two styles well than to learn many superficially. It is also important to find a good Qi Gong teacher, or lao-shi. This is because the Qi Gong training is not standardised, and as such the quality of the teachings as well as the qualifications will vary from teacher to teacher.
Benefits of Qi Gong
Qi Gong, as a health practice, has numerous benefits. These include:
- cardiovascular benefits such as a lower resting heart rate, improved blood pressure, and improved cholesterol levels
- respiratory benefits such as a slower rate of breathing, and improvements in asthma and bronchitis
- a stronger immune system
- improved circulation and microcirculation
- improved blood flow to the brain
- lower incidence of stroke
- a reduction in the frequency and intensity of seizures
- improved posture, balance, strength, endurance, and flexibility
- significant reduction in chronic pain
- decrease in stress levels and anxiety
- improvements in memory
- improved kidney function
- higher bone density
- destroys free radicals in the body
- improves digestion
- improves vision and hearing