What Is Tai Chi?
QiGong and Tai Chi are based on the highest principles of the Tao. Through daily QiGong / Tai Chi practice, we can become as children again, without stiffness or tension. We can relearn how to move freely and naturally with the whole body connected, both structurally and energetically. In this way, we mirror our connection to the larger whole, as part of the universe.
Once one learns the postures, the rest of the work in mastering QiGong / Tai Chi involves learning to use energy in each posture. Working with Chi (energy) is called internal work. The internal work is what makes QiGong / Tai Chi unique and what distinguishes it from external forms of martial arts. The inner structure is what allows the body to move as a whole. Originating in China, QiGong / Tai Chi is an ancient form of meditative exercise used to improve and maintain good health, increase longevity and improve self-defense.
A regular program of QiGong / Tai Chi exercises bestows a number of benefits:
- Relief of neck, should and back pain;
- Rehabilitation for high blood pressure, heart diseases, arthritis, diabetes, etc.;
- Relief from the effects of stress and tension; and
- The development of a frame of mind for overcoming depression.
Tai Chi Forms
- Peking Short Form
- International Long Form
- Hands of Lohan
- Form 6
- Form 24
- Form 42
- Short Chen Form
- Long Chen Form
- Sun Style Long Form
Tai Chi Weapons
- Short Chen Single Fan
- Flying Rainbow Single Fan
- Flying Rainbow Double Fan
- Single Sword
- Double Sword Long Form
- Kung-fu Single Fan
- Green Dragon Sword Form
What Is QiGong?
The word QiGong (pronounced "chi gong") is a combination of two ideas: "Qi" means air, breath of life, or vital energy of the body, and "gong" means the skill of working with, or cultivating, self-discipline and achievement. The art of QiGong consists primarily of meditation, relaxation, physical movement, mind-body integration, and breathing exercises.
For thousands of years, millions of people have benefited from QiGong practice and believed that improving the function of Qi maintains health and heals disease.
In traditional Chinese medicine, good health is a result of a free flowing, well-balanced energy system. It is believed that regular practice of QiGong helps to cleanse the body of toxins, restores energy, reduces stress and anxiety, and helps individuals maintain a healthy and active lifestyle.
- 24 Postures Therapeutic QiGong
- Lin Kong Jing (meditation)
- Zuhang Jing (meditation)
- Walking QiGong
- 9 Postures Chen QiGong
QiGong / Tai Chi - Benefits
"The cure of the part should not be attempted without treatment of the whole. No attempt should be made to cure the body without the soul, and therefore, if the head and the body are to be healthy, you must begin by curing the mind. This is the first thing. Let no one persuade you to cure the head until he has first given you his soul to be cured. For this is the great error of our day in the treatment of the human body, that physicians first separate the soul from the body."
- Plato, in his book The Republic, written in 380 B.C.
Qi Gong/Tai Chi teaches inner strength while toning muscles, increasing flexibility, and boosting immune power. It is also said to reduce stress, store up energy, increase body awareness, and improve balance and coordination. Qi Gong/Tai Chi was the closely held secret of a few Chinese families for nearly 1,000 years...
- Men's Health Magazine - 8 Mar/Apr '93 p. 66-69
Relative to measurement beforehand, practice of Qi Gong / Tai Chi raised heart rate, increased nonadrenaline excretion in urine, and decreased salivary cortisol concentration. Relative to baseline levels, test subjects reported less tension, depression, anger, fatigue, confusion and state-anxiety; they felt more vigorous, and in general they had less total mood disturbance.
- (American Psychological Association) Journal of Psychosomatic Research - 1989 Vol 33 (2)197-206
A study conducted in China indicates that Qi Gong/Tai Chi may increase the number of T lymphocytes in the body. Also know as T Cells, these lymphocytes help the immune system destroy bacteria and possibly even tumor cells.
- Prevention Magazine - V. 42, May 90, p.14-15
BREATHING, ACHES, BLOODPRESSURE
Participants observed a "big increase in breathing capacity", a disappearance of backaches and neckaches, those with high blood pressure claimed a drop of 10 to 15 mm Hg systolic at rest, and all participants claimed to have more energy in their daily work.
- Hawaii Medical Journal - Vol 51 No. 8 August 92
CURES & PREVENTIONS
Proponents claim that Qi Gong/Tai Chi can also:
1. cure illnesses such as hypertension, asthma, insomnia;
2. prevent arteriosclerosis and spinal deformity; and
3. shorten recovery phase from long-term illness.
Results from a study by Chen Munyi (1963) with elderly Qi Gong/Tai Chi practitioners show that this group had RTs, strength, and flexibility superior to non-practitioners.
- (American Psychological Association) American Journal of Chinese Medicine, 1981 Spr Vol 9 (1) 15-22
BEYOND TRADITIONAL CARE
Health practitioners encountering clients who are faced with problems that do not seem to respond to traditional health care may employ some of the health traditions of other cultures and to view the body and mind as a balnced whole. Massage, acupuncture and Qi Gong / Tai Chi focus on the mind/body connection to facilitate healing through relaxation, pressure points, and movement.
- AAOHN Journal, 1993 July, 41 (7) 349-351
Can you Heal Yourself?
Ask most people and the answer would be "no". We think that the healing of our various maladies is outside of ourselves. Everyone else has the answers. There has been a system of self healing around for 5000 years and only now are we, in the west, discovering its power. This system is called Qi Gong (pronounced Chi Kung.) Qi Gong is a series of simple exercises that when practiced correctly and consistently, promotes the free flow of Qi (Vital Life Force) throughout the body. This in turn impacts every cell in the body and improves one's health significantly.
Major medical universities around the world such as Harvard, have been doing research with Qi Gong on various illnesses such as cancer, arthritis, diabetes, stroke, heart disease, sleep, osteoporosis and fall-prevention. In each study "significant" results were attained. Above is just a short list of the ailments studied. The results were so impressive, that Harvard Medical School refers to this as "Medication in Motion".
So how does this all work? The concept of Qi is simple. There must be a free flow of this energy throughout the body. If there is a block in the system, then illness will take hold and the body will start to deteriorate. Qi Gong opens the channels known as meridians, and promotes this flow of Qi from organ to organ and throughout the entire system. As cells regenerate, they become stronger. The immune system improves and the body responds in kind. Simple but dramatic.
One of the great aspects of Qi Gong is that anyone can do it regardless of age or physical abilities. It can be done standing or sitting and you can do it anywhere. No special equipment, clothes or location are required. It is gentle, easy, portable and again, benefits all who practice it.
Exercise is good but not all exercise is equal. There is a difference between "fitness" and "wellness". Qi Gong is a mind-body exercise that impacts not only our physical being, but also the emotional, mental and spiritual aspects of our life. Catharine Garceau a Canadian Olympic Medalist, at the height of her career, suffered from injuries, anxiety and eating disorders. She has been trained and is certified to teach "24 Posture Therapeutic Qi Gong". She now has students of her own in the U.S. and credits Qi Gong as a significant part of her healing journey in her new book "Swimming Out Of Water".
Qi Gong has proven itself time and time again around the world, yet people don't believe it. Of course, many have never experienced it. Many medical doctors still think it's hogwash but the evidence is there. Many medical facilities in the U.S. are now using Qi Gong as an integrative therapy for the overall well-being of their patients.
The key is to make sure the teacher you choose has good lineage and does not change the original posture or the movements. Too often someone will make changes and put their own twist to make their own "brand" and the system loses the true benefits and the original integrity.
In the final analysis, what people think about Qi Gong, or what the research says about Qi Gong, or the experiences of others with Qi Gong, is irrelevant. The only result that counts is your own. The advice would be to take responsibility for your own health and take your life back. Use Qi Gong in conjunction with your doctor's treatment and get better. Simple.