Although tai chi is a martial art, it has many therapeutic qualities. This is because the emphasis on performing the movements of tai chi is not on exertion or strength, but on concentration, balance and relaxation. There are basic principles in tai chi irrespective of which style is practised. These include relaxation and extension of the body with an awareness of trunk alignment. The knees are kept bent and movement is achieved through shifting weight slowly from one leg to another. The sequence of movement begins in the waist and upper hips and progresses to the distal limbs which make careful and gentle circling and pushing gestures.
When tai chi is performed for health, it is a form of qigong. The collective term ‘tai chi / qigong’ is used to represent this type of practice. While tai chi and qigong are similar, they are not synonymous. Tai chi is a slow, flowing exercise often practiced as empty hand or weapon form, or paired practice known as push hands.
Qigong is energy cultivation through exercise, meditation, breath control and self-massage with origins in Chinese medicine. ‘qi’ (or chi or ki) means life energy. ‘gong’ means dedicated practice.
The essential components of these exercise arts are; dynamic movement, static standing and sitting postures, breathing regulation, meditation and self-administered massage.
Tai chi as an exercise activity can improve fitness, and with regular application can lead to an increase in functional abilities of coordination and joint mobility, as well as improve self esteem and confidence. Studies show potential for tai chi to help prevent and treat many conditions associated with ageing, for example loss of balance and strength (frailty), and cardio-respiratory function (emphasis placed on correct breathing) as well as psychological factors associated with the ageing process.
Furthermore, like all eastern movement therapies, tai chi and qigong incorporate a mind-body approach in rehabilitation of disorders, which distinguishes it from most western methods of rehabilitation.
This beginners course will introduce you to the foundations of tai Chi and qigong. We will be practicing the Yang style (Cheng Man-Ching) short form and the 18 Stance Taji Qigong Shibashi form.