Qigong and Tai Chi Chuan

Qigong and Tai Chi Chuan

Qigong (or Chi Kung) is the ancient Chinese practice for health, therapy, and longevity thought to balance one's life force and promote healing. It is a self-healing art that combines movement, relaxation, mind-body integration, breathing and meditation. "Qi" means vital energy of the body, and "gong" means the skill of working with, or cultivating, self-discipline and achievement. There are thousands of different forms of Qigong exercises, each varies in degree of difficulty.

The Qing Dyansty printing of the Weisheng Jieyao, a manuscript of qigong. One of the seated postures of Baduanjin (Eight Pieces of Brocade) Qigong

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, all forms of life have a source of "chi" or "qi" (energy or life force). When this flow of Chi is blocked or impeded, imbalance and dysfunction in the body's systems can occur. To restore a healthy physical and mental state, the Chi must be shifted back into balance. Having developed awareness of Chi flowing throughout the body advanced practitioners can use their mind and/or yi (intent) to guide the Chi.

Qigong seeks to cultivate the "three treasures": chi (vital energy), jing (essence), and shen (spirit). Done regularly it activates the flow of the intrinsic life energy along the meridians (interconnected energy pathways) and therefore strengthens the internal organs, exercises the joints and muscles, promotes relaxation and stress management, prevents occupational physical stress diseases, improves posture, and provides the essence and base for many internal and external martial arts such as Tai Chi Chuan.

Tai Chi Chuan Berkeley teaches and practices “The 8 Brocade” (one of the oldest Qigong exercise systems) at the beginning of each class to warm up and calm mind, body and spirit before proceeding to forms practice. Other Qigong "flow & sensitivity" exercises and standing meditation are also part of the class schedule.

This integration of Tai Chi and Qigong helps students experience the meditative aspects of Tai Chi Chuan very early in their practice.

Benefits of Qigong exercises:

  • Stress and anxiety release
  • Improved overall hormonal balance in the body
  • Improved sleep quality
  • Lowered blood pressure levels
  • Greater range of motion in the body
  • Increase of positive thoughts and attitudes
  • Better posture and overall body alignment
  • Counter repetitive stress and movement injuries
  • Increased health of the nervous system
  • Respiratory capacity expansion
  • Strengthens important joint and muscle groups