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The term Tai Chi has become more familiar than Qigong in the west, with both being seen to comprise of slow flowing movements however though there are many overlaps and connections there are also differences. They are both sequences of movements combined with breath work and the sequences are called ‘forms’.

The Chi/ Qi both sounding like chee or jii mean different things. In Qigong the Qi is “energy” from “life energy work (or skill)” and in Tai Chi Chuan the Chi means “ultimate” from Grand ultimate fist.

Qigong

Qi is the animating power that permeates the universe and all living things. It is the basis for Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) -- Qi flows throughout the body’s energy pathways, or meridians, to help maintain essential health by gently unblocking, where there may be blockages and facilitating free flowing and balanced qi to energise the organs systems and cells.

Qigong has a rich history dating back 5000 years with developments from China, India, Japan and continues to be practised, researched and developed in both the East and the West.

There are three main paths of Qigong, which of course can run parallel or overlap. These are:

• Use for healing in TCM or health and well-being through balancing the flow and reducing stagnation of energy in the body.

• The cultivation of qi for increasing power for use martially

• Qigong Meditation for integration of mind and body, emotional and spiritual fulfilment, qi cultivation and healing.

Qigong has many forms that can be performed whilst lying down, sitting or standing through breath work, slow gentle movements and an internal focus.

In Qigong forms the movements tend to be short in sequence and repeated several or more times before moving on to the next.

The Qigong breath work and forms in the classes are not merely a warm up for the Tai Chi but support health/healing and the development of deep relaxation of the mind and body in working with the life energy which can then be carried forward through to enrich the experience of the tai chi forms.

Tai Chi

Tai chi also has many forms in various styles (theme for another blog!) all stem from a martial art thought to be developed by the founder of Chen Style tai chi, Chen Wangting (1580–1660) from which all the other styles developed.

Tai chi consists of continuous, usually slow, circular, relaxed and smooth flowing movements that has numerous health benefits for people of all ages and health conditions.

All of the movements in tai chi without exception relate to, potentially, a martial application and the forms tend to be made of several to many movements that follow on from each other, rather than repetition of short sequence of movements as in Qigong.

Practising Tai Chi one works with the fundamental principles in the forms involving grounding (rooting), alignment, integration, coordination, connection, precision and unity which in time and practise will in itself bring about a healthy flow of qi.

In Chen style tai chi, along with the longer forms which can take some time to learn, but are indeed very rewarding, there are also shorter ‘exercises’ called “Silk Reeling” and help to stimulate and circulate Qi through the body whilst developing a felt understanding of the fundamental principles of movement in Tai Chi.

Chen Style is also one of the only styles to include fast movements woven into the forms and where any number of movements can be practised at high speed, though in our classes the main, but not all, focus is on taking time to develop the form and awareness through slow movement.

Although classes at West Norwood Therapies the focus is on the health benefits of Chen style tai chi and, though not teaching martial tai chi, we refer to some of the martial applications at times to give a deeper understanding of the origin and 'intention' of the movement so as to be able to exercise the movement with greater focus and deliberation.

The classes at West Norwood Therapy work with both Tai Chi and Qigong.

We work primarily with the shorter Tai Chi forms with a focus on the deepening of the quality rather than the quantity of movements from the outset of one’s journey with Tai Chi and Qigong.



Spring into Action Gently

Many of my students find themselves surprised at the end of a gentle calming session they also feel as if they have “done a good workout”!

It is often thought that Tai Chi is so slow and so gentle that it could not possibly offer anything like the cardiovascular benefits of other more vigorous exercise. However in the programme “Trust Me I’m a Dr” a beautifully clear experiment was conducted between a group of adults doing 12 weeks of Tai Chi and a group doing 12 weeks of Zumba!

Watch this 2 minute film to see the results!


Look at Classes and workshops with Hannah at West Norwood Therapies and FullcircleQi



Fascia and Qigong

Qigong (pronounced chigung) directly translated means energy skill/ training.

Qigong can be practised as a series of flowing movements or practised without movement other than breathwork and mind focus.

There are obvious musculoskeletal benefits alongside developing internal awareness, sensitivity and a calming of the mind.

Practising Qigong can lead to deep relaxation that brings benefits in itself. This also allows for the freeing up the of flow of bodily fluids through the systems we are aware of in the West, circulatory, lymph and digestive but also the flow of Qi through the chinese meridian system as used in acupunture.

Ba duan Jin (eight silk brocades) and Wu Xin Xi ( Five Animals) are both ancient qigong forms that work with all the meridians facilitating balance and promoting health and self healing.



In China qigong is part of the national health plan with it being practised in Hospitals, schools and workplaces. Currently tai chi, better known in the West, is popular in China but many more have Qigong as part of their daily practise.

Interestingly, the relatively new research in western medicine into fascia and myofascial trains run very closely along the same routes as the ancient chinese meridians.

The following documentory explores the fascia with regard to the musculoskeletal system, the impact of stress, and the experience of pain.This opens up a whole new world of understanding of the body and , I hope, help to promote how the body can heal itself.

There is a long way,however, to catch up with the knowledge of the fascial realtionship to the internal organs, its potential as a trainable sense organ and its interralationship with both the internal and external stimuli.

The video I am sharing mentions, physiotherapy, yoga and acupunture but not Qigong.

In time…..

So I let you draw your own conculsions from the programme and invite you to to experience qigong for yourself!

Watch The Mysterious World Under The Skin documentary