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Natural Awakenings Northwest Florida

TAI CHI TRIFECTA: Tai Chi and Qigong Produce Synergistic Healing Benefits

May 07, 2012 12:27AM ● By Jude Forsyth

Qigong is known as "the mother of Tai chi," and translates as "working intensely with energy." It was an ancient practice of Chinese monks, used for physical health, mental clarity, a sense of peace and a feeling of harmony with nature. When qigong, the gentle internal art of energy and moving meditation, was combined with the more external art of the animal martial arts, it became known as Tai chi, which translates as "the great ultimate." Tai chi was passed down by oral tradition through many Chinese families, while qigong was still taught primarily in the temples. Qigong motion tends to be a little smoother, as it does not include the faster and stronger martial arts movements.

The Chinese believe that one must have a strong mind/body connection to feel "inside the body" and recognize when chi, or vital energy, is out of balance.

The belief is that when energy flows through the body the way it should, there exists a state of good health. The gentle movements of qigong and Tai chi have many physical benefits as exercise programs. Participants will move every muscle, joint, bone and organ of the body, but in a slow and methodical way. While most people practice these internal arts to sustain good health, improve poor health and promote longevity, many of them come not just for the physical training, but also as a method of stress reduction.

Both practices have mental benefits. This technique of "moving meditation" combines slow, consistent movements with breath and a relaxed focus on the connection of the mind with the body. Many styles of qigong and Tai chi include additional meditation practices that, with continued use, can improve focus and concentration and become a catalyst for change in those that suffer from excessive worry, compulsive behavior and stress-related illnesses.

Another benefit that it is not necessary to change clothes, pack a gym bag or carry a mat. Qigong and Tai chi are standing and moving practices that can be done in any location, in comfortable clothing. The best way to understand this ancient practice is to attend a class and experience the movements and meditations firsthand.

Jude Forsyth is an exercise physiologist and a certified qigong and Tai chi teacher. The owner of Blue Willow Wellness, she teaches classes in Gulf Breeze, Navarre and Fort Walton Beach. For information, call 226-9355 or visit BlueWillowWellness.com.

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