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"What is Tai Chi and Qi Gong (say ‘chee gung’)?

It is a natural, holistic, stress-relieving relaxation and exercise, working deep into tissues and organs. 

It stops the fight/flight response by switching off stress hormones.  Qi Gong re-sets your immune system (often suppressed during stress), improves circulation and has many other benefits. 

It uses movement, circulation of blood and qi (life energy), specific breathing practices, visualisations, meditation and mindfulness practices, self-acupressure and internal self-massage through movement to improve and maintain your health without putting stress on the body.

It takes its inspiration from the natural world, imitating the movements of animals such as the lion (for strength), snake, bird (for balance), fish or monkey. 

By getting qi to move smoothly, the body's ability to remain healthy is improved.

What is the difference?

Tai Chi is the most well-known and popular moving form of Qi Gong, or Daoyin, with more complex forms (sequences of movements), less internal breath work, focusing more on body alignment and direction of force (as it is a soft martial art often done for health purposes).

Qi Gong is part of Traditional Chinese Medicine, like acupuncture and herbs.  It aims to adjust any imbalances of the body essence (Jing), your vital energies (Qi) and your spiritual/moral self (Shen).  It activates acu-points, meridians, channels, blood flow, blood oxygenation (up to 100%), self-massages organs, and more.

What are the benefits?

The most immediate effect is to calm the mind and breathing in order to reduce stress and help the mind and body back into its natural state of balance and hence good health. 

Students of Tai Chi and Qi Gong have found the following benefits:

  • improved balance and co-ordination
  • improved blood and lymph circulation
  • improved breathing (eg in asthma)
  • greater strength from whole body movement
  • more flexibility through relaxed joints, muscles, tissues and even blood vessels
  • vitality and mental focus increase
  • emotional stability, reduction in anxiety and improved self-confidence
  • improved organ function through internal massage
  • better immune system function through relaxation response
  • better sleep through meditative practices

    Research is now looking into the many positive benefits of Qi Gong and Tai Chi, including mild to moderate help with keeping balance in Parkinsons’, better breathing in asthma, better balance for older people, reduced symptoms of depression, beneficial effects on osteoporosis, beneficial effects for high blood pressure and low blood pressure and some pain management.

  • What is Qi?

    Much has been written and argued about the nature of Qi, whether it is to be translated as ‘life force’, ‘breath’ (as in ‘Qi Gong’ meaning ‘breath work’), or ‘bio-electricity’.  The discussion continues.  (The Japanese word for it is 'Ki'.)

    Whatever it is, Qi is that which makes you alive.  Cultivating it, moving it smoothly through the body, is that which makes you healthy.  In the West, Qi is best known in connection with Acupuncture and Shiatsu.  It can be directly experienced by the practitioner, and directed through practice.

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