Thursday, August 10, 2017

You’ve Heard of Tai Chi, but What About Qigong?

By Richard Lund, M.S.
Integrative Health Associate

For those of you that haven’t heard of Qigong, or not sure of what it is, I’ve seen a growing awareness and interest in Qigong, as well as Tai Chi. But what is Qigong? And how is it different from Tai Chi?

Let me first start with the definition of Qigong. Qi is the Chinese word for energy, and Gong refers to knowledge or skills developed through consistent practice and experience over time. Therefore, Qigong literally means training or working with your vital energy. Its purpose is to gather energy, circulate it smoothly and continuously throughout your body, and nurture it to promote health and improve your quality of life.

Qigong, like acupuncture, is part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which teaches that the best way to promote health and healing is to balance and circulate your energy smoothly and continuously, like your blood flow before physical symptoms develop, and thus preventing illness and injury. This is done by calming your mind, relaxing your body, and breathing slowly and deeply. Qigong exercises can be done sitting, standing, or lying down, remaining still as in meditation, or while moving, more like Tai Chi as seen in parks and peaceful natural settings.

There are several main categories of Qigong:
  • Medical Qigong, which improves functioning of our internal organs 
  • Qigong for health 
  • Spiritual or contemplative Qigong, which is more like meditation 
Tai Chi is the martial art form of Qigong. Both having the same principles, but is practiced more for health. Both Qigong and Tai Chi are excellent forms of meditation.

Most often Qigong involves practicing a single movement repeated over and over again before moving to another movement, while calming the mind through awareness on posture and relaxing your breathing. This allows your energy to circulate smoothly and evenly throughout your body.

Tai Chi is practiced as a series of movements linked together, like a dance sequence, following one after another with no breaks in between, done slowly and evenly. Both Tai Chi and Qigong are often called moving meditation, whereas Qigong is a set of simple, repetitive movements that are much easier to learn than the Tai Chi form while also developing correct posture, stability, balance, and whole body coordination. Both promote relaxation and well-being and manage stress. These benefits eventually spread into all of our activities of daily living. Most Tai Chi classes begin with practicing Qigong like warm up exercises. Furthermore, one can first learn Qigong to develop a solid foundation for good Tai Chi.

To learn more or attend a class, please call 732-324-5257.

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