Tai Chi and Qigong are exercise systems used to promote health, healing and vitality. The exercises you help can you to become revitalised, relaxed, more self-confident, stronger and healthier in both mind and body. Even with a small amount of practice, you will find your health and fitness improve, and your mind and body relax, helping to combat the stresses and strains of modern living. Unlike most forms of exercise and sport, Tai Chi and Qigong do not rely on strength, force or speed, making them ideal for all ages, at any fitness level. Neither Tai Chi or Qigong require special clothing or equipment and both can be done in a small space, sitting on a chair, in a wheelchair or standing.
What is Tai Chi Chuan?
Tai Chi Chuan is the full name for what most people refer to as Tai Chi (or Tai Ji). Tai Chi means ‘The Supreme Ultimate’ and encompasses both philosophical and spiritual concepts. The term ‘Chuan’ means ‘fist’ or ‘boxing’ and Tai Chi is an extremely effective form of self defence.
Tai Chi is a series of slow, continuous and flowing movements you see performed in the parks, especially in China, early in the morning. It is sometimes known as moving meditation. With practise you can become revitalised, relaxed, more self-confident, stronger and healthier in both mind and body.
Tai Chi can also:
- Increase energy levels yet improve the quality of your sleep.
- Increase flexibility and coordination, and improve posture and balance (helping to reduce the risk of falls).
- Improve quality of life and range of motion in breast cancer survivors.
- Improve circulation, lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
- Condition and strengthen the bones, which can help to prevent the onset of osteoporosis.
- Improve some medical conditions, e.g. arthritis, cardiovascular, respiratory and digestive disorders.
Although beginners perform the movements slowly at first, as their general health and ability improve, these can then be performed in a more dynamic manner. This provides the same positive effects on the cardiovascular system as jogging or high-impact aerobics, but without the stress and strain.
What is Qigong?
The word Qigong (or Chi Kung or Chi Gung) is made up of two Chinese words. Qi is pronounced chee and is usually translated to mean the life force or vital-energy that flows through all things in the universe. The second word, Gong, pronounced gung, means accomplishment, or skill that is cultivated through steady practice. Together, Qigong means ‘energy work’ or cultivating energy, and it is essentially a system practised to promote health, healing and vitality.
This ancient Chinese exercise system aims to stimulate and balance the flow of qi along the acupuncture meridians, or energy pathways. Qigong is used to reduce stress, improve blood circulation, enhance immune function and treat a variety of health conditions. Tai Chi is a form of Qigong.
Note - certain physical injuries, particularly of the back and neck, may prevent you from practising. If you’re in any doubt, ask your doctor if you should be attending classes and make sure Karen is aware of your condition.