Yin and Yang of QigongAccording to the Chinese healing arts, Qi (chee) is an energy or life force that to runs through the body. By awakening Qi through the breathing, movement, and meditation in Tai Chi and Qigong, overall health is improved.
As Gord Muir takes his pupils through their weekly Qigong class, he interjects philosophical words of wisdom between the moves.
Unlike the aerobics class down the hall at the Monterery Centre, he doesn’t need a microphone and cranked music, yet the Qigong (pronounced chee-gung) class is just as vigorous.
The moves are gentle, yet deliberate. Muir speaks quietly, yet purposeful. The loudest sound is the participant’s deep breaths.
Muir refers to Qigong and Tai Chi as an “internal martial art” because the art builds inner strength as well as exterior.
Once practised almost exclusively in China for 2,000 years, Chinese healing techniques and exercises have recently gained in popularity in North America.
Qigong’s popularity has swelled much the same way that Tai Chi classes did 10 years ago.
According to the Chinese healing arts, Qi (chee) is an energy or life force that to runs through the body. By awakening Qi through the breathing, movement, and meditation in Tai Chi and Qigong, overall health is improved.
In addition to encouraging the flow of Qi, staying active is important for maintaining health. As a result, the Chinese developed systems of medical gymnastics such as Tai Chi and Qigong to help cure and prevent disease.
They are holistic forms of exercise that benefit the body as well as the mind, says Muir. The exercises combine intense mental focus with deliberate slow, sequential movements. Muscles, ligaments and tendons gently stretch and lengthen while practicing. Balance and aerobic capacity enhances and blood pressure decreases.
Tai Chi and Qigong are based on the Chinese theory of yin and yang. Everything, including the human body, consists of yin and yang. Disease and illness are a result of an imbalance between the two forces.
Tai Chi and Qigong work to balance yin and yang, and as a result, optimize the body’s ability to heal or guard its self from disease or illness.
“Every time I go to China and I see the people practising Tai Chi in the park. I am always impressed with how strong they are at such an old age,” says Norrie Buckler.
Despite the lack of speed and aerobic activity, participants receive an intensive workout.
People with back pain, arthritis, or creaking joints are able to keep active without increased risk of injury. Participants do not need special equipment or prior experience.
“You come as you are,” Buckler says. “I can let go and not have to worry about competition.”
Buckler says in addition to feeling stronger, she feels a calm sense of inner peace that gives her confidence and helps her cope with life.
“I can relax without medication. I focus on parts of my body that are stressed, like tension in the shoulders blades, and learn to let it go.”
Michael Sampson, 64, said he feels his body re-awake while practising Qigong.
“It tells my muscles they are still working,” he says. “At the same time it gives me an inner calm.”
Sampson and Buckler are among a dozen pupils who gather every Monday morning at the Monterey Center to practise the gentle, yet effective art.
The expression Tai Chi translates to “supreme ultimate,” referring the internal power each individual holds. Qigong means to refine through practice one’s life force.
Qigong includes many Tai Chi principles and benefits, but without as many stepping patterns. As a result, participants can practise the movements standing, sitting down or even lying down. Tai Chi and Qigong allow people who are bedridden or in wheelchairs to participate in the art.
“It’s nice to see alternatives work,” Buckler says. “No matter your situation, everyone can benefit.” Saanich News
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