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Join Ian on Monday’s from 7:15 – 8:15PM ($10/class)
@ Body to Bliss Yoga, 5451 Highway 7, Suite 203 (second Floor),
Woodbridge, Ontario, L4L 0B2
Tai Chi & Qigong are ancient mind/body cleansing exercises designed to process the stress loads we accumulate each day, so that we can release them to enable the mind and body to operate in its highest mode of efficiency and health. Tai Chi & Qigong combine deep breathing techniques, gentle body movement, and visualization techniques.
When combined, they provide the metaphoric equivalent of running your central nervous system through a car wash. The gripping, clutching mind and body you start with on one end of your Tai Chi exercise, is left behind as you exit this mind/body cleansing with a fresh, more sparkly and clear perspective of life.
What is Tai Chi?
Tai Chi originated from ancient China and is now practiced throughout the world as an effective exercise for health of mind and body. Tai Chi is a graceful form of exercise that involves a series of movements, called forms, which are performed in a slow, focused manner combined with controlled breathing. It is a low impact exercise that puts minimal stress on muscles and joints, making it suitable for many older adults.
How Tai Chi Works:
No matter what form of Tai Chi is practiced, if specific principles are incorporated, the result will be better balance and reduced falls. The three basic principles are:
1. Movement control: Tai Chi movements are slow, smooth and continuous; they help to strengthen internal muscles, like the deep stabilizers that support and strengthen the spine. Additionally, Tai Chi practitioners move against a gentle resistance to build full muscular strength. Slow and smooth movements calm the mind, helping to reduce falls resulting from sudden movements that can lead to significant blood pressure drop, especially in elderly people taking medication that can cause blood pressure change.
2. Weight transference: Tai Chi practitioners are mindful of transferring weight with each step, helping to improve mobility, coordination and balance. This, in addition to emphasis on upright and supple posture, further strengthens muscles.
3. Integration of mind and body: Tai Chi is an internal art, which stresses the integration—and balance—of mind and body. Tai Chi practitioners focus, calm their minds, and loosen and relax their joints and ligaments. Practicing a mind-body exercise such as Tai Chi builds confidence, thus alleviating the fear of falling. A number of studies indicate that fearing a fall actually increases a person’s risk.
What is Qigong?
Qigong is an ancient Chinese health care system that integrates physical postures, breathing techniques and focused intention. The word Qigong (Chi Kung) is made up of two Chinese words. Qi is pronounced chee and is usually translated to mean the life force or vital energy that flows through all things in the universe.
The second word, Gong, pronounced gung means accomplishment, or skill that is cultivated through steady practice. Together, Qigong (Chi Kung) means cultivating energy. It is a system practiced for health maintenance, healing and increasing vitality.
Qigong practices can be classified as martial, medical, or spiritual. All styles have three things in common: they all involve a posture (whether moving or stationary), breathing techniques, and mental focus. Some practices increase the Qi; others circulate it, use it to cleanse and heal the body, store it, or emit Qi to help heal others.
Practices vary from the soft internal styles such as Tai Chi; to the external, vigorous styles such as Kung Fu. However, the slow gentle movements of most Qigong forms can be easily adapted, even for the physically challenged and can be practiced by all age groups.
Like any other system of health care, Qigong is not a panacea, but it is certainly a highly effective health care practice. Many health care professionals recommend Qigong as an important form of alternative complementary medicine.
Why do Qigong?
Qigong creates an awareness of and influences dimensions of our being that are not part of traditional exercise programs Most exercises do not involve the meridian system used in acupuncture nor do they emphasize the importance of adding mind intent and breathing techniques to physical movements. When these dimensions are added, the benefits of exercise increase exponentially.
The gently, rhythmic movements of Qigong reduce stress, build stamina, increase vitality, and enhance the immune system. It has also been found to improve cardiovascular, respiratory, circulatory, lymphatic and digestive functions.
Those who maintain a consistent practice of Qigong find that it helps one regain a youthful vitality, maintain health even into old age and helps speed recovery from illness. Western scientific research confirms that Qigong reduces hypertension and the incidence of falling in the aged population. One of the more important long-term effects is that Qigong reestablishes the body/mind/soul connection.
When these three aspects of our being are integrated, it encourages a positive outlook on life and helps eliminate harmful attitudes and behaviors. It also creates a balanced lifestyle, which brings greater harmony, stability, and enjoyment.
Who can benefit?
Qigong’s great appeal is that anyone can benefit from practicing it, regardless of their level of physical fitness, whether they are young or old, what belief system they hold, their level of income, or life circumstances.
There are a wide variety of Qigong practices. They vary from the simple, internal forms t the more complex and challenging external styles. They can interest and benefit everyone, from the most physically challenged to the super athlete. There are Qigong classes for children, senior citizens, and every age group in between. Since Qigong can be practiced anywhere or at any time, there is no need to buy special clothing or to join a health club.
Anyone can enrich their lives by adding Qigong to their daily routine: children learning to channel their energy and develop increased concentration; office workers learning Qigong to reduce stress; seniors participating in gentle movements to enhance balance and their quality of life; caregivers embracing a practice to develop their ability to help others; prisons instituting Qigong programs to restore balance in inmates lives; midwives using Qigong techniques to ease childbirth.
When an individual or group assumes responsibility and takes action for their health and healing, we all benefit.