Qigong or Tai Chi?
Qigong is a traditional Chinese practice of exercise for health maintenance, healing and increasing vitality.
There are many health, fitness and well-being benefits in these energising exercises which work on developing and improving the energy flows in the body. Particularly beneficial are increased mobility of the spine, improved flexibility, better balance and posture. I usually include a number of exercises that may help arthritis.
The emphasis is on keeping relaxed and the repetition of flowing movements. For centuries it has been the favoured exercise in China, villagers gathering in a park or open space to practice together at the same time every day.
I explain the Qigong principles and health benefits of each exercise. The classes include an exploration of the Qigong way of mindfulness and mind-body exercises. We find out how Qigong influences relaxation, posture and everyday living.
If you wish to practice at home this will enable you to tailor your own routine to your needs.
There is a wealth of Qigong exercises available and each week I select a sequence of exercises supporting a theme, such as top-to-toe, the spine, self-massage, joints & arthritis, stretching, sluggish system, lungs, breathing and strength.
I also include Shibashi 1 and a number of short Qigong forms. (A form is a sequence of movements changing from one posture to another by way of connecting movements.)
Tai Chi is a branch of Qigong and, although it can be practiced as a martial art, my interest is in its health benefits. Because Tai Chi is martial-arts based it does not have as extensive a range of body movements as Qigong.
I teach the Yang Short Form which is very well known and popular in the UK. It takes up to a year to learn and about six minutes to perform. It is an excellent exercise for memory! You can see a demonstration of the form, performed by the winner of the First Tai Chi World Championship, here: Yang Tai Chi demonstration.
The weekly classes start with Qigong health & fitness exercises (including Shibashi 1) and the last part of the hour is spent learning the Yang Short Form.
Which should I choose – Tai Chi or Qigong?
It is a personal preference whether you choose to join a Tai Chi or a Qigong class.
Some prefer to slowly learn a Tai Chi form, others prefer the greater variety of exercises available in the Qigong classes, drawn to the health, fitness and well-being benefits of Qigong.
If you can’t decide then I suggest you start by joining one of my Qigong classes. You can always transfer to the Tai Chi class later.
I end each class with a few minutes meditation. This is an important aspect of Qigong and Tai Chi as it settles the mind and energy in the body. The aim of each class is to finish the hour feeling refreshed and invigorated.