Beneficial Moves from Tai Chi, Qigong & Chinese Yoga

Beneficial Moves from Tai Chi, Qigong (chee gung) and Chinese Yoga
By Larry Cammarata, PhD

Imagine a free, natural medicine that is as healthy for you as pristine mountain air and organic food. Further imagine that this medicine is reputed to strengthen your immune system, prolong your life span, increase your energy, uplift your spirit, vitalize your sexual functioning, enhance your general health, relax your body and calm your mind. Does this sound like another far-fetched health claim? Well, for thousands of years, millions of Chinese have highly valued this “medicine,” known as qi (or chi, pronounced chee), which can be activated through the practice of qigong and tai chi.

Qigong (pronounced chee gung) is an ancient Chinese exercise and healing system that is over 2,000 years old. The word qigong derives from the Chinese words qi, meaning “energy,” and gong, meaning “work” or “practice.” The term can be translated as “energy cultivation.” The practice of qigong is used to promote the free flow of energy through relaxation of the mind, body and emotions. By circulating and balancing this energy, qigong harmonizes mind and body, nourishes the internal organs and enhances the functioning of one’s immune system.

The movements of qigong are similar to those of tai chi chuan (or tai chi), although usually simpler in form and therefore easier to learn. The relative simplicity of qigong makes it very accessible to virtually anyone who would like to learn an authentic, comprehensive mind-body practice.

A Moving Meditation
Although qigong cannot be reduced into one simple category, I’ve found it useful to introduce this system to new practitioners as a “moving meditation.” Everyone interested in fitness and health knows about the benefits of physical movement. Meditation is also finding its way into the mainstream, becoming widely accepted for its contributions to health and healing. As a moving meditation, qigong can be regarded as a mindfulness practice combining concentration and present-centered awareness. A mindful approach to movement helps to lower stress, increase energy, improve concentration, raise body awareness, promote relaxation and decrease the incidence of injury. A mindful approach to qigong practice cultivates a refined awareness of energy flow, along with the ability to direct energy to various parts of the body for the purposes of healing emotional and physical traumas, reducing stress and pain, and rejuvenating mind, body and spirit.