Qi Gong / Taichi
What is Qigong?
Qigong is an ancient Chinese health care system that integrates physical postures, breathing techniques and focused intention.
The word Qigong (Chi Kung) 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 (Chi Kung) means cultivating energy, it is a system practiced for health maintenance, healing and increasing vitality.
Qigong is an integration of physical postures, breathing techniques, and focused intentions.
Qigong practices can be classified as martial, medical, or spiritual. All styles have three things in common: they all involve a posture, (whether moving or stationary), breathing techniques, and mental focus. Some practices increase the Qi; others circulate it, use it to cleanse and heal the body, store it, or emit Qi to help heal others. Practices vary from the soft internal styles such as Tai Chi; to the external, vigorous styles such as Kung Fu. However, the slow gentle movements of most Qigong forms can be easily adapted, even for the physically challenged and can be practiced by all age groups.
Like any other system of health care, Qigong is not a panacea, but it is certainly a highly effective health care practice. Many health care professionals recommend Qigong as an important form of alternative complementary medicine.
The gentle, rhythmic movements of Qigong reduce stress, build stamina, increase vitality, and enhance the immune system. It has also been found to improve cardiovascular, respiratory, circulatory, lymphatic and digestive functions.
Those who maintain a consistent practice of Qigong find that it helps one regain a youthful vitality, maintain health even into old age and helps speed recovery from illness. Western scientific research confirms that Qigong reduces hypertension and the incidence of falling in the aged population. One of the more important long-term effects is that Qigong reestablishes the body/mind/soul connection.
People do Qigong to maintain health, heal their bodies, calm their minds, and reconnect with their spirit.
When these three aspects of our being are integrated, it encourages a positive outlook on life and helps eliminate harmful attitudes and behaviors. It also creates a balanced life style, which brings greater harmony, stability, and enjoyment
There are a wide variety of Qigong practices. They vary from the simple, internal forms to the more complex and challenging external styles. They can interest and benefit everyone, from the most physically challenged to the super athlete. There are Qigong classes for children, senior citizens, and every age group in between. Since Qigong can be practiced anywhere or at any time, there is no need to buy special clothing or to join a health club.
Qigong's great appeal is that everyone can benefit, regardless of ability, age, belief system or life circumstances.
Anyone can enrich their lives by adding Qigong to their daily routine. Children learning to channel their energy and develop increased concentration; office workers learning Qigong to reduce stress; seniors participating in gentle movements to enhance balance and their quality of life; caregivers embracing a practice to develop their ability to help others; midwives using Qigong techniques to ease child birth.
After teaching and leaning certain style of Qigong, if you find the style feel comfortable with, you develop a consistent daily practice. It is highly recommended to stay with a form for at least 100 days and longer. A consistent practice is the most important asset you can develop.
When beginners ask, "What is the most important aspect of practicing Qigong?" The answer is always..."just do it."
What is TAICHI
Tai chi, which originated in China as a martial art, is a mind and body practice. Tai chi is sometimes referred to as “moving meditation”—practitioners move their bodies slowly, gently, and with awareness, while breathing deeply.
The Chinese characters for Tai Chi Chuan can be translated as the 'Supreme Ultimate Force'. The notion of 'supreme ultimate' is often associated with the Chinese concept of yin-yang, the notion that one can see a dynamic duality (male/female, active/passive, dark/light, forceful/yielding, etc.) in all things. 'Force' (or, more literally, 'fist') can be thought of here as the means or way of achieving this ying-yang, or 'supreme-ultimate' discipline.
Tai Chi, as it is practiced in the west today, can perhaps best be thought of as a moving form of yoga and meditation combined. There are a number of so- called forms (sometimes also called 'sets') which consist of a sequence of movements.
For many practicioners the focus in doing them is not, first and foremost, martial, but as a meditative exercise for the body. For others the combat aspects of Tai Chi are of considerable interest. In Chinese philosophy and medicine there exists the concept of “Qi” pronounced as ‘Qi’, a vital energe that animates the body. One of the avowed aims of Tai Qi is to foster the circulation of this 'Qi' within the body, the belief being that by doing so the health and vitality of the person are enhanced. This 'Qi' circulates in patterns that are close related to the nervous and vascular system and thus the notion is closely connected with that of the practice of acupuncture and other oriental healing arts.
Another aim of Tai Chi is to foster a calm and tranquil mind, focused on the precise execution of these exercises. Learning to do them correctly provides a practical avenue for learning about such things as balance, alignment, fine-scale motor control, rhythm of movement, the genesis of movement from the body's vital center, and so on. Thus the practice of Tai Chi can in some measure contribute to being able to better stand, walk, move, run, etc. in other spheres of life as well. Many practitioners notice benefits in terms of correcting poor postural, alignment or movement patterns which can contribute to tension or injury. Furthermore the meditative nature of the exercises is calming and relaxing in and of itself.
Because the Tai Chi movements have their origins in the martial arts, practicing them does have some martial applications. In a two-person exercise called 'push-hands' Tai Chi principles are developed in terms of being sensitive to and responsive of another person's 'Qi' or vital energy. It is also an opportunity to employ some of the martial aspects of Tai Chi in a kind of slow-tempo combat. Long-time practitioners of Tai Chi who are so-inclined can become very adept at martial arts. The emphasis in Tai Chi is on being able to channel potentially destructive energy (in the form of a kick or a punch) away from one in a manner that will dissipate the energy or send it in a direction where it is no longer a danger.
The practical exercises of Tai Chi are also situated in a wider philosophical context of Taoism. This is a reflective, mystical Chinese tradition first associated with the scholar and mystic Lao Tsu, an older contemporary of Confucius. He wrote and taught in the province of Honan in the 6th century B.C. and authored the seminal work of Taoism, the Tao Te Ching. As a philosophy, Taoism has many elements but fundamentally it espouses a calm, reflective and mystic view of the world steeped in the beauty and tranquillity of nature.
Generally, People practice tai chi by themselves or in groups. In China or in Chinese community oversea, people commonly practice tai chi in nearby parks—often in early morning before going to work. There are many different styles of Tai Chi, such as Chen style, Yang style. But all of them involve slow, relaxed, graceful movements, each flowing into the next. The body is in constant motion, and posture is important. The names of some of the movements evoke nature (e.g., “Embrace Tiger, Return to Mountain”). Individuals practicing tai chi must also concentrate, putting aside distracting thoughts; and they must breathe in a deep and relaxed, but focused manner.
According to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey, which included a comprehensive survey of CAM use by Americans, an estimated 2.3 million U.S. adults had used tai chi in the past 12 months.
Research indicated People in US practice tai chi for various health-related benefits, such as:
• For benefits associated with low-impact, weight-bearing, aerobic exercise
• To improve physical condition, muscle strength, coordination, and flexibility
• To improve balance and decrease the risk of falls, especially in elderly people
• To ease pain and stiffness—for example, from osteoarthritis
• To improve sleep
• For overall wellness.
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