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Boomers and others embrace Qigong and T’ai Chi for stress

By Virginia Harford

Now in many of the posh gyms and sports clubs, classes are combining Qigong and T’ai Chi with yoga. The Chinese peasants years ago used the ritual of Qigong to manage daily stresses such as invading barbarians. Many of the ancients also religiously practiced Qigong and T’ai Chi for rejuvenation and longevity. It was a sacred and secret practice until about the 1960s when much of this information started to become public in the West.

Well known gyms and sports clubs are combining Qigong with yoga and it has been considered the hottest trend in stress relief. Ten percent of Americans over the age of 55 belong to a health club. They are checking into the benefits of doing T’ai Chi and Qigong to help with stress relief and lowering blood pressure.

The participants can feel tingling in their hands and bodies after a single class.  The beautiful movements are circulating the chi throughout the meredians and the entire

body benefits from the relaxation response that can be initated. You have more energy

after a session.

In an article in The Wall Street Journal on May 13, 2003 the writer, Jane Spencer, alludes to the fact that maybe doing Qigong is Tiger Wood’s Secret Weapon? Golf pros are reportedly taking private lessons afer hearing that Tiger Woods practiced it as a kid!

Until recently there had been little scientific research. However, in 2003 the Center for Alternative and Complementary Medicine at The National Institutes of Health earmarked more than US$500,000 in grants to study health benefits of Qigong. Two of the results show that it can help elderly people develop better balance and can lower blood pressure. It has become a common recommendation for terminally ill patients as it has the potential to relieve stress without exhausting the body.

Many studies have also explored the links between the slow, deep breathing of Qigong and yoga. These practices set in motion the body’s relaxation response.

At the Stanford Center for Integrative Medicine in Tucson, Arizona, weekly Qigong classes are offered to cancer patients. Doctors at the University Medical Center in Tucson, Arizona prescribe Qigong to patients with severe heart disease.

T’ai Chi used to be for the lucky ancients in Tibet and actually can take decades to master a form. There are estimated to be over 70,000 different Qigongs. Many of the Qigong and T’ai Chi masters do not want to see it become an industry.

In July 31, 2012, an article in Time Magazine is titled ‘Why Tai Chi is the Perfect Exercise.’ The author, Christine Gorman, writes that T’ai Chi combines intense mental focus with deliberate, graceful movements that improve strength, agility and balance. She cites that scientists at the Oregon Research Institute in Eugene reported that T’ai Chi offers the greatest benefit to older men and women who are healthy but inactive. The regular practice helps reduce falls and the goal is to go at your own pace and that ‘pain is

no gain.’ T’ai Chi plus walking is a good combination. Younger people also need aerobic activity but can benefit from T’ai Chi’s capacity to reduce stress. A big plus is that people enjoy doing T’ai Chi.

Virginia Harford – Health and wellness have held special interest for Virginia for many years. She has studied many different modalities and took teacher training in T’ai Chi Chih twenty years ago. See:


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