A regular practice of Qigong or Tai Chi brings numerous health benefits to body, mind and spirit and here are 5 reasons why.
Qigong and Tai Chi movements:
1)Prevent stagnation in the body
The exercises are done gently and slowly, thereby promoting the smooth flow of blood, body fluid and Qi throughout the body. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, where there is flow there is healing and life. Adequate circulation is essential for the removal of toxins and dead cells, for the delivery of essential nutrients and blood to the tissues, and for growth and repair. When the flow is disrupted for any reason (injury, illness, stress, for example), then fluids and Qi in the body can become stagnant or sluggish resulting in poor health over time.
2) Maintain the suppleness of muscles and sinews
Movements in Qigong and Tai Chi are intended to be performed in a smooth manner, with emphasis on relaxing the muscles as the body moves. Muscles cells contain within them 'spindles', which act as a protective mechanism against injury when a muscle is being elongated. If a muscle is over-stretched too suddenly or forcefully, the muscle spindle sends a message to the muscle cell to "contract". This is known as the 'stretch reflex'. If this protective mechanism is triggered continually over time, a reduction in flexibility will become evident. In Qigong and Tai Chi, muscles relax within a natural range of movement, allowing them to stretch innately, enabling an increase in blood circulation and a reduction in the 'stretch reflex' being triggered in the muscle. With nourishment from an unimpeded flow of blood, the muscles and sinews are able to work more efficiently, reducing the chances of injury.
3) Cultivate and teach mindfulness
Mindfulness refers to the mental involvement in the movements being performed and full engagement in the present moment. Mindfulness has many layers during a practice of Qigong and Tai Chi, ranging from complete absorption in mastering the technique of a movement and notation of physical sensations in the body, to awareness of thought patterns and an awakening to the external and internal environments. According to principles taught in Qigong and Tai Chi, the more we become aware, and WHAT we become aware of, plays a significant role in preventing injury, warding off illness and living a healthier lifestyle.
4) Engage the breath
In a Qigong and Tai Chi practice, students are taught to breath from and into the diaphragm in a deep relaxed manner. This style of breathing ensures that tight muscles release, that the Qi and blood flow freely through the body, and that the mind becomes clear and focused. The breath is what connects the upper and lower halves of the body, unifies movements and thoughts, and calms the emotions. As there can be no breathing without movement, and no movement without breath, we learn of the power of life contained in each breath we take.
5) Reduce stress and enhance feelings of well being
What do you achieve when you enhance the flow of Qi, blood and body fluid throughout the body, improve the suppleness of the muscles and sinews, become more mindful in everything you do and in each moment, and breath in a manner that is calming and healthful? You get a healthier outlook on life as the effects of stress on the body are minimized! Enhanced feelings of wellbeing have a domino effect on a person. As the body moves and feels better, the emotions become more stable, thought processes become more positive and our heart-spirit (shen) becomes more balanced. What could be better?
May you find health and joy in your Qigong or Tai Chi practice!