Qigong is a traditional Chinese practice of exercise for health, fitness and well-being.
The emphasis is on keeping relaxed and the repetition of flowing movements. For centuries it has been the favoured exercise in China, villagers gathering in a park or open space to practice together at the same time every day.
There are many health, fitness and well-being benefits in these energising exercises which work on developing and improving the energy flows in the body. Particularly beneficial are increased mobility of the spine, improved flexibility, better balance and posture. I usually include a number of exercises that may help arthritis.
The term Tai Chi is often as a generic term which incorporates both Tai Chi and Qigong.
The main differences between Qigong and Tai Chi is that Tai Chi is also a martial art. Because they are derived from martial art movements, which ensure that you are not vulnerable to attack, the range of movements in Tai Chi is more limited than Qigong. By comparison Qigong movements are more free flowing, expansive and expressive.
Tai Chi is usually practiced as a form, a sequence of movements changing from one posture to another by way of connecting movements. Depending on the form practiced, it may take between six to twenty minutes to perform a Tai Chi, and with regular practice can take a year or longer to learn.
Qigong is easier to learn as it is more exercise-based with a wealth of Qigong exercises available. Each week I select a sequence of exercises supporting a theme, such as top-to-toe, the spine, self-massage, joints & arthritis, stretching, sluggish system, lungs, breathing and strength.
I explain the Qigong principles and health benefits of each exercise. The classes include an exploration of the Qigong way of mindfulness and mind-body exercises. We find out how Qigong influences relaxation, posture and everyday living.
I also include Shibashi 1 and a number of short Qigong forms which are easy to learn.
each class ends with a few minutes meditation. This is an important aspect of Qigong as it settles the mind and energy in the body. The aim of each class is to finish the hour feeling refreshed and invigorated.
The NHS has a guide to Tai Chi which looks at the health benefits, has suggestions concerning whether it is a suitable exercise for various conditions, tips on getting started and how to find an instructor. Their guide uses Tai Chi as a generic term incorporating both Tai Chi and Qigong. See NHS: A Guide to Tai Chi.
You may also be interested in this article: Qigong and Tai Chi: a health journey into your advancing years.