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You've heard of Tai Chi, but what is Qigong, and why should you care?

Actually, Qigong (chee-gung) is the ‘mother’ of Tai Chi, pre-dating it by thousands of years. It was originally developed in China for health and wellness, and it is still practiced today for the same reason. There are two main differences between Qigong¬† and Tai Chi. Tai Chi includes significant choreography. Qigong does not. The Qigong movements are done mostly standing in one spot. The Tai Chi movements flow one into the other, often with no repetition. In Qigong, the movements are repeated typically 3, 6 or 9 times before moving into the next movement. Some think balance and fall prevention improve just a little faster with Tai Chi, others think health benefits emerge just a little faster with Qigong. Perhaps there is some truth in these opinions, but it is likely of little significance. The really important matter with both, is the extent of home practice. The health benefits will flow from both, if a student is serious about accumulating at least two hours a week (120 minutes or 20 minutes on each of 6 days) of home practice, including class time.

Since Qigong has survived for at least two millenia, perhaps it is time for western folks to sit up and pay attention….the stuff must work….the Chinese are intelligent people and we just might learn something of great value for our health and wellness. Since Tai Chi is based on Qigong, and has also been around for a long time….seven hundred years….it is reasonable that it too might have something to offer. Most everyone knows that Tai Chi is that exercise the Chinese and a few weird natives are doing out in the park in early morning. They are out there every day, waving hands, moving slow and gracefully, some even smiling. What’s going on? Every westerner knows that it takes huffing and puffing, and ‘no pain, no gain’ to improve health, right? Are they just wasting their time? How could something so easy be good for you?

Well, I’m gonna tell you. It used to be a secret, guarded by a few wealthy Chinese families that originated different styles and programs, but the word is now out! They DO WORK. Harvard says so, the National Institute of Health says so, Arthritis Associations all over the world say so, and that is just a scratch on the surface. The mass of peer-reviewed, scientific clinical studies that have accumulated over the past 20 years have removed all doubt. How can that be?

First, we agree that it is irrational to think that the easy, flowing Tai Chi and Qigong movements are responsible for all the benefits that flow from practicing both. It takes more. It takes the most powerful organ in you body…your brain. Plus, breathing gets into the act too. All three work together to produce the wonderful results. Western medicine seems to be waking up to the fact that the brain has a profound effect on the health of our bodies. Everyone knows what terrible effects severe stress can do to our health. That’s the brain in action. Most have heard of the placebo effect, where an ill person is given a sugar pill and they get well anyway. That is the brain in action too. Wow, what if we could harness that brain power as part of an exercise regimen and realize all the benefits that might flow? Well, we can! And we do it three times a week at the Legacy Dance Center in Clyde, and the Laurel Ridge Country Club Fitness Center in Waynesville. Check our Classes page for details.

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