Learn more about the practice and benfits of tai chi and qigong
By Faye Baker
Counter Changes Movement Arts
Practices help to regenerate the body, reduce stress, calm the mind, and soothe the central nervous system
Tai chi and qigong have become more prominent in America as effective methods of reducing the stresses and strains of everyday life. The exercises are recognized by the slow meditative movements and now more interest has been generated in the health benefits, how it works, and what the movements mean.
Tai chi chuan (taijiquan) and qigong (chi gung) are gentle but effective exercise regimens that have been practiced in China for thousands of years. Tai chi was developed from qigong, a health care system integrating relaxation, natural, easy postures, and breathing techniques with mental focus. The movements of each may look similar but tai chi chuan has self-defense applications and is usually practiced for its many proven health benefits.
Qigong, the parent of tai chi, is a healing art and takes less time to learn. It can be practiced at any age and ability and is easily adapted to injuries and various health conditions. Simply, qigong is practiced to heal and regenerate the body, reduce stress, calm the mind, and soothe the central nervous system.
Both arts are based on traditional Chinese medicine which emphasizes the importance of balanced chi or energy flow. Qi (chi) translates as ‘life energy or breath.’ Gong (gung) means ‘practice’ so qigong can be translated as ‘energy or breath practice.’ Both tai chi and qigong are practiced to help the body maintain or regain overall health and vitality.
Tai chi and qigong use gentle exercises to move the bodily fluids and bio-electrical energy (chi) along the energy pathways, the same as used in acupressure and acupuncture. The postures of tai chi and qigong are designed to energize these pathways, align the body for maximum efficiency, oxygenate the blood, and stimulate the immune system by using the breath with focused attention to relaxed movements.
Breathing, relaxation, body structure and alignment are integral in these practices. This fundamental training can then be applied in everyday life situations as the breath and body movements naturally become synchronized. This helps the calm the nerves and allows one to move with more ease and fluidity.
Tai chi and qigong attune the body’s internal systems. Some of the other benefits realized through the practice of tai chi and/or qigong are improved: relaxation, breathing capacity, range of motion, flexibility, balance, awareness, endurance, circulation, strength, memory, and enjoyment. The exercises are easy to learn, easily integrated into daily life – at work, sports and any other health regimen – and qigong can be done in small spaces and practiced standing, seated, or lying down.
The National Institute of Health, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Harvard, Mayo Clinic, Stanford, UCLA, and other health organizations, after impressive results in their group studies of balance, strength, bone density, shingles, blood pressure, immunity and memory, are continuing research to further determine the benefits of these ancient Chinese arts as health exercises and healing modalities. Tai chi and qigong provide some things we can all use – relaxation, improved breathing and better postural alignment – essential elements in these ancient arts. Tai chi and qigong are truly dynamic arts for a lifetime of health and vitality.
Paso Robles Class Schedule
- Body in Balance Qigong – on-going classes Wednesdays at Centennial Park 5:30-6:30 pm
- Body in Balance for Active Aging – on-going classes Wednesdays at Paso Robles Senior Center 10:00-11:00 am
- Tai Chi for Health – Centennial Park – new sessions starting soon
For more information about Faye Baker, Body in Balance Qigong, Tai Chi for Health, and Workplace Wellness Programs, visit www.counterchanges.com.