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Tai Chi
Tai Chi vs. Qigong (Chi Kung)

28 Jul 2011
Having announced the beginning of my first round of pure qigong (chi kung) classes in two or three years, I am surprised to hear so many students ask what is qigong? Surprised and amused, since they have been practicing qigong with me in class from the beginning.

Qigong is the cultivation of qi (chi) the fundamental energy of our life force  through external exercises. In other words, movement to cultivate qi. Another branch of exercises, neigong, is devoted to cultivating qi without moving at all  such as the standing post meditation I offer on my new CD, Tai Chi Meditations. Neigong is purely internal, while qigong is internal work with an external component.

Most qigong movements are simple and straightforward, though not always easy; some will challenge you as much as the most torturous yoga asanas. All in all, qigong has most of the same pleasurable qualities as Tai Chi, without the long, complex forms that are the hallmark of most Tai Chi styles.

Qigong is a health practice, pure and simple. Tai Chi Chuan, as a martial art, is healthy because martial arts require extreme fitness, but the martial component is key; some (such as Dr. Yang Jwing-Ming) even call Tai Chi a martial qigong, though that is clearly a modern spin on an ancient art.

Qigong exercises are often prescribed, just as medication is prescribed, for handling specific ailments. Heart, lung, liver, kidney, digestive, and sexual problems all have exercises intended to help. These exercises work by moving qi through the meridians (as in acupuncture meridians) associated with the organs in question.

Everyone who is alive has qi, but the strength of your qi determines your health. As the strength wanes, so does your health and vitality. You can cultivate the strength and power of your qi through qigong exercises.

Sometimes our problem is with stuck qi: due to tension in our bodies, our qi is stuck partially or completely, so that it cannot pass from one part of the body to another. To understand how this works, just think of a garden hose running at full blast: even a small crimp is enough to reduce the flow to a trickle. So it is with qi flowing in a tense body.

When we are relaxed, qi flows smoothly and easily from one area to another. It is not too thin in one spot, so that an organ is deprived of energy; it is not too thick in another spot, so that an organ is not poisoned from too much energy.

Qigong allows us to cultivate relaxation with smooth, flowing motions. As we relax, our energy balance improves, and overall energy increases. The exercises are easy and enjoyable. The new classes are posted on the schedule. Why not try it?


You may also like this related article: Moving From the Waist (140)
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