Have Qigong and Tai Chi Evolved to fit Contemporary Lifestyles?

Have Ancient Practices evolved to fit into Contemporary Lifestyles?

The ongoing joke among Qigong teachers is: “What happens when you ask a room full of 100 Qigong teachers what’s the right way to do a specific exercise?  You’ll probably get 100 different answers.”

Tai Chi evolved from Qigong, and today there are many forms and styles of Tai Chi, including the 108 Yang Long Form style, 35 Chen short style and numerous other variations. These all didn’t happen in my lifetime.

Qigong, by its very nature, tends to flow in different ways; dependent on the teacher, we all don’t move or step the same way or at the same pace. Regardless of style, tempo or extension, there are recognizable, identifiable exercises and forms in Qigong and Tai Chi.

It’s the Qi, t he cultivation of Qi / Energy/ Chi that binds our practices . . . plus both disciplines share similar benefits! I’ll get to the differences. First Breathe deeply, imagine the Qi filling your cells, relax let the tensions go – now read on.

Are Tai Chi and Qigong related?

As one of the main rivers of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Qigong is an ancient practice whose history goes back a few thousand years. Tai Chi is one form of Qigong but there are many others.

Qi and Chi (two different spellings of the same word) both translate as Energy, the  invisible life force energy that flows through our bodies.  When the body’s energies are balanced and flowing freely, there is vibrant health. This is accomplished, encouraged and cultivated through deep breathing exercises ( remember why we breathe deeply? YESSSSS Exhale out the tension), gentle body movements, focused intention and visualization in both Qigong and Tai Chi.

Both disciplines also understand and cultivate an intimate mind-body connection. There is a rhythm and flow, yin and yang of two complementary but opposite forces that create balance, harmony and health. Just as day follows night and night follows day, there is a continuous creation and flow of complementary energies.

These ancient disciplines understand that every aspect of a person affects one’s whole body, there is an intimate mindbody connection.  If you get a stomach ache, you feel pain in your belly; but the effects of this pain may also transfer into other areas of your life and mind. Modern research in several disciplines is investigating how these ancient practices, such as deep breathing, can relieve pain.

Qigong and Tai Chi emphasize cross-body exercises, improving balance and coordination by shifting weight from one side to the other. Both practices teach your body to let go, relax and release tensions effortlessly so that you and your energy can move effortlessly. Both help lower blood pressure and  lessen inflammation. Your brain benefits too. Noted Neuroscientist Dr. Lara Boyd says, “Nothing is more important than practice in helping you learn.” As your practice  evolves, your own preferences and sensitivities deepen and develop.

 Tai Chi is currently better known in the West. However, Qigong is rapidly gaining popularity as more research is done on Qigong’s healing benefits and complementary medical applications. It’s a fact more people now recognize and can pronounce the word Qigong.

So what are the differences?

Qigong requires little space and no extra props, so it’s ideal for practicing in small spaces, especially suitable while traveling or in your office (even in that cramped apartment or tiny house you squeeze into).  A short series of Qigong exercises can target specific areas of your body. Qigong can be done standing, in a chair or lying down. You build flexibility into a routine within the time you have to practice, what your body needs, and how much space you have. You can do a single Qigong exercise multiple times, or combine several movements together as a flow, which is a moving meditation. Practice time varies from 2 to 40 minutes. As little as seven minutes a day can produce multiple benefits.

Certain Tai Chi forms include a set series of postures and moves done once in a specific order. These can vary in length from about 15 minutes to one hour. You need lots of open space to do a Tai Chi series. It is magical to practice with others in a park, at the beach, or in an empty gym.  

Experience Tai Chi and Qigong’s magic this April 29. at WTCQD, World Tai Chi  Qigong Day. Find a celebration in your area here  http://www.worldtaichiday.org/ABOUTwtcqd.html     

One of the things I continuously enjoy about energy work is that there is a lifetime of learning to do and the rest of my life to become more proficient! This practice definitely contributes to active, healthy longevity! I may not be “old” yet, but I am getting older every day. So keeping flexible with a healthy happy heart and great people with whom to practice these ancient Eternal Arts is a natural high! I enjoy embodying the Qi;  having my feet grounded on this good earth and my mind expanding with universal energy. Try it – the feeling is free and available to everyone who breathes. . . remember WTCQD motto: One World, One Breath!

Spread the energy, bring a friend to WTCQD and Qi-fully enhance your good health.

 My practice is energized when you subscribe and comment below. I am grateful for you and your good Qi!

About Cynthia Niermann

Cynthia Bell Niermann, M.A. is a Certified Qigong Teacher who specializes in the Energetic Arts and Wellness Education. Cynthia's goal is to share tools and experiences for vibrant health and inner development. Keep Qi Moving and ENJOY being fully alive!