Qi Gong and Tai Chi share a common history. They are both
thousands of years old with Qi Gong pre-dating Tai Chi. Tai Chi’s mindfulness
component came from integrating aspects of Qi Gong with the Taoist martial art,
Tai Chi Chuan. Tai Chi Chuan means the “ultimate fist” or
“supreme ultimate force”. In many group classes, they are both
practiced in the same session. Qi gong cultivates and directs internal energy
with deep breathing and slow, open, and flowing movements; Tai Chi builds and
directs energy using deep breathing and precise, choreographed martial arts
Mindfulness in Tai Chi
and Qi Gong
Qi Gong focuses primarily on the indwelling qi (chi) of a
person. It is typically performed standing with the feet connected to the
ground and weight evenly distributed. In one Qi Gong exercise, the practitioner
visualizes energy from within their body and holds it between their hands,
allowing it to expand and contract with slow broad movements of their hands and
arms. The practitioner breathes slowly and deeply but the movements are not
necessarily directly connected to the breath.
Tai Chi is performed in a similar fashion. The breath is slow
and a deep and the movements, slow and focused, but unlike Qi Gong the
movements are intended to provide more physical benefits along with the mental
benefits provided by the practice. Tai Chi utilizes the energy generated
through movement to heal and strengthen the body and mind.
Tai Chi and Qi Gong are often described as meditative movement.
The meditative component of the practices requires practitioners to perform the
exercises with deep intention and concentration. They become exceptionally
mindful of their form as they perform Tai Chi and Qi Gong as prescribed with
their concentration on being aware of their breath, how their body moves and
the associated sensations as well as the purpose of their movements.
Mindfulness Meditation as
a stand-alone practice provides many of the same benefits as Tai Chi and Qi
Decreased Stress and
Improved pain management
Lower blood pressure
Improved immune function
Cultivates mental and
Through the enlightenment
reached in meditative movement one can attain a profound connection to the
universe and gain a deep sense of self-awareness that allows them to improve
their coping skills in stress, enjoy more fulfilling relationships with others,
and the ability to deal with life’s challenges with a calm and focused mind.
Studies show these benefits become permanent with long term and
consistent practice. The brain itself actually undergoes structural change as a
result of the Mindful Meditation aspects of the practice. The part of the brain
responsible for high and reactionary emotional states becomes diminished.
The amount of gray matter in the brain increases building more
extensive connections within the brain accelerating thought processing.
Tai Chi and Qi Gong
provide additional external physical benefits:
Improved range of motion
Improved balance (assists
with preventing falls in the elderly)
Increased muscle strength
Building and maintaining
Some people find it very difficult to start with a sitting
meditation practice. They require more direction and clearly designated and
repeated focus to concentrate.
The pursuit of mindfulness through the practices of Qi Gong and
Tai Chi gives people desiring its benefits an effective and engaging way to do
so because it is a practice that involves constant movement.
Learn more about how Tai Chi can benefit you by checking out our
Tai Chi Course.