Styles and Wonders of Taichi and Qigong

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Information on Styles and Wonders of Taichi and Qigong

These Taichi and Qigong are usually performed in the early morning in the local park by people from all ages ranging from some middle-aged to elderly people moving gracefully in synchronized movement or doing breathing exercises.  The art of Taichi and Qigong has often been mistaken for a New Age exercise.  Taichi is a form of martial arts called Tai Chi Quan ("quan" means fist or boxing) developed over hundreds of years ago by Chinese martial arts expert Zhang San Feng for self-defense.  Since then, many divisions of Taichi have evolved and the art is now practiced for healing as much as for self-defense purposes.  Taichi also means "extreme ultimate," and aptly describes the art as an effective form of self-defense, revealing its deep roots in the martial arts. 


Taichi and Qigong are intricately related.  Each discipline aspires to build Qi, natural internal energy.  To a casual observer, Qigong movements appear to be simpler to perform and involve fewer movements or steps.  Both are practiced to enhance the flow or energy but Taichi is done in standing and moving positions, making it an active form of Qigong.  The major styles of Taichi practiced today are Chen, Yang, Sun, Wu and Hao.  Low, wide stances as well as explosive movements such as punches, kicks, jumps and foot stamps characterize Chen, the oldest of these styles.  On the other hand, Qigong is simply a breathing exercise.  There are literally hundreds of Qigong styles, broadly classified into medical, martial arts, Confucian, Buddhist and Taoist schools.


Connecting the mind and body

Psychoneuroimmunology, which studies the complex interactions between the nervous system, immune system and the psyche, offers a scientific premise to Taichi and Qigong.  Taichi and its related form of Qigong are probably some of the oldest forms of mind-body exercises founded on the fundamental basis that thoughts, emotions, attitudes and behaviors affect physiologic function and vice versa.  A vital component of Taichi and Qigong is an awareness of one's body, thoughts and emotions, and the body's relation to the environment.


Helps in elevating mood

If done correctly, both Taichi and Qigong helps concentration and alertness, relieve stress and depression and improve blood circulation.  There has been some literature that shows the possible mood-elevating effects of Taichi and Qigong martial arts and exercise in general.  The current body of research suggests a combination of factors, mental concentration on the Taichi and Qigong movements, discipline that is, the class setting, social support from other practitioners, as well as the generally slow tempo of Taichi and Qigong and deep breathing which may slow down bodily arousal, can contribute to Taichi and Qigong's calming and potential mood-elevating properties.


Enhanced Coordination and Balancing of the body

As it involves more complicated movements such as left and right hand coordination with the feet, as well as some one-legged movements, the practice of both Taichi and Qigong also greatly improves coordination and balance.  Strain on the lower back is also minimized due to postural alignment, coordination and balance as set out in Taichi and Qigong principles.  Correct practice of Taichi and Qigong also has an effect in strengthening the spine, lower back and waist as Taichi and Qigong principles require all movements to originate from the waist and lower back areas.  A low stance during the practice of Taichi and Qigong will also enable your legs to get a good workout and unlike running, Taichi and Qigong puts less stress on the joints, if done correctly.


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