Health Benefits of Qi Gong and Tai Chi
Qi Gong and Tai Chi are forms of Oriental exercises designed to enhance your mind and body. Recent scientific studies have confirmed the claims of long-term practitioners: these soft, flowing movements can significantly improve your health. While they do not bear much resemblance to the exercises we remember learning in high school, Qi Gong and Tai Chi are increasing in popularity and can be seen all over the country as people are embracing these ancient forms of Oriental health exercise.
Western scientists have observed that a Qi Gong and Tai Chi practice activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which functions in opposite action to the sympathetic nervous system – our fight or flight response. When activated, the body relaxes and increases the production of endocrine-activating neurochemicals causing the release of hormones that enhance our vitality and boost immunity.
Long term practitioners of Qi Gong and Tai Chi often report greater flexibility than their peers, less pains and aches associated with aging, fewer colds and seasonal allergies, improved breathing and management of asthma conditions, and most importantly: less stress.
Here are health benefits you can achieve through a Qi Gong and Tai Chi practice:
- Cardiovascular Benefits: Lower Blood pressure and greater aerobic capacity
- Immune-Support: studies show Tai Chi practice increased T-cell production
- Psychological: Decreased anxiety and negativity
- Muscular-Skeletal: Improved strength and flexibility through safe exercise
- Decreased Stress: the most significant cause of modern illness
While Qi Gong and Tai Chi cannot really turn back the clock and make us younger, they can make us feel younger and live healthier.
Origins and Theory
Originating in China several thousand years ago, Qi Gong is literally translated as energy work, and includes thousands of different styles of movements used to cultivate increased health and awareness. Tai Chi is a common style of Qi Gong, and is made up of several Chinese family-lineage styles that have become very popular over the last few decades in the US. While Qi Gong exercises are commonly short specific movement performed in a repetitive sequence, Tai Chi is generally longer sequences of choreographed movements of 22 to 108 unique postures. Both Qi Gong and Tai Chi are often performed in groups under the direction of a qualified teacher or practiced solo by individuals seeking a deeper meditative state.
Regardless of which style you find available in your area, both Qi Gong and Tai Chi are based in the same principles: rooted balance, correct posture, deep breathing, and a relaxed mind and body.
The slow fluid movements of Qi Gong and Tai Chi are designed to increase the flow of energy in your body, relieving blockages that cause pain and other health problems. While Qi Gong and Tai Chi movements appear to be easy, a little practice will show you that they are able to provide a moderate level of cardiovascular exercise and increase your strength and flexibility.
In addition, both Qi Gong and Tai Chi are styles of moving meditation. The deep abdominal breathing massages our internal organs to increase the circulation and health of these organs. The rhythmic movements lead to a relaxed mind and body. This combination develops a deeper connection to one’s mind and body over persistent practice leading to an increased control of one’s internal energy. Under the theories of Oriental Medicine, this increased energy from Qi Gong and Tai Chi can replenish your health and extend your mind’s focus and awareness.
Who can benefit?
We often associate Qi Gong and Tai Chi practice with elderly Asians grouped together at dawn. However, the practice of Qi Gong and Tai Chi can be helpful to those of all ages and ethnicities. Qi Gong and Tai Chi can be practiced in groups or individually. The increased flexibility, strength, and mental clarity can even enhance the training of athletes. It is best to start young and stay healthy for a long life.