The human body was designed to move.
In all traditional cultures and healing arts, some form of movement is incorporated as part of their healing strategy.
Moving the body creates flow, restores energy, strengthens and heals the body.
If we stop moving for too long, we will fall ill. Both our physical and mental health will be jeopardized.
In Traditional Chinese culture and medicine, two main healing movements exist : Qi Gong and Tai Chi.
But what is Qi (pronounced Chi)?
Qi is an encompassing term that describes the energy we require to be alive and vital. There are several forms of Qi (food Qi, source Qi, internal Qi, external Qi, etc), all of which are required for our health and wellbeing.
Because of its importance, we want to maximize Qi wherever we can.
In state of good health, Qi flows easily and smoothly in our body. When Qi is deficient, stagnant or in excess, we face illness, pain, or some kind of discomfort (physical and/or emotional).
As you can see, we want to keep the Qi moving, flowing and in balance for optimal health!
Besides eating proper foods, getting good sleep, and receiving therapies such as acupuncture, or herbal therapy, Chinese medicine prescribes movement exercises that work to cultivate the Qi, namely Qi Gong or Tai Chi. They are related practices, but different in forms and intentions.
Qi Gong focuses on cultivating, circulating and harmonizing Qi particularly for health benefits.
Tai Chi, although related, is fundamentally a form of martial art. Some forms of Qi Gong do promote physical characteristics useful for martial arts, but in comparison, Qi Gong does not include defense principles contained in the Tai Chi postures.
Most of Tai chi forms include soft, fluid movements that seem to blend into one another like a dance choreography. But there are several types and schools of Tai Chi, depending on their leading masters and teachers.
As for health benefits, studies show that Qi Gong and Tai Chi improve muscular strength, flexibility, fitness, and immunity. They can also help relieve pain which helps improve quality of life.
In addition, these movement therapies emphasize weight transference to improve balance and prevent falls. Just this quality and benefit alone should invite a lot of us (especially as we age and begin to naturally lose balance) to learn and practice Tai Chi or Qi Gong some of the time.
Please join me, Eglé Weiland and Rebecca Rapaport Ness at Bexley Yoga Studios on November 18 for a workshop that will introduce you to both Tai Chi and Qi Gong.
To cultivate even more qi, you will receive a gentle harmonizing acupuncture treatment at the end.