Taiji Qigong is the practice of gentle movement, breathing and intention (mindfulness), using the mind and body with the goal of balancing life energy, called qi in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) or chi in the West.
Qi is often described as a universal or energetic “force.” Grasping energetic forces is challenging for many Western minds: We tend to trust only what we can see, touch, or measure. Still, according to TCM, qi drives all our biological processes. It’s considered the body’s dynamism, moving blood, prompting organ function, and changing food into energy. Ted Kaptchuk, OMD, professor of medicine at Harvard and the author of The Web That Has No Weaver, defines qi as “the fundamental quality of being and becoming.”
The qi flows along channels of energy in the body called meridians. Envision the body as a house wired for electricity, but instead of cables, meridians carry the electricity. When the meridians are blocked or out of balance, pain arises.
Taiji Qigong might sound 'woowoo', especially for Westerners taught to seek healing in medication and procedures. But Taiji Qigong is not a New Age fad. It’s been around for 5,000 years and is based on ancient understandings of the body as both a physical and energetic entity.
Taiji Qigong unblocks meridians using gentle movement which opens specific points along the energy lines, called acupoints. In response to the enjoyable mindful movement, the brain produces endorphins, chemicals that muffle pain signals and invite pleasurable feelings. In the absence of pain, muscles relax and blood flows more freely. As tension recedes, the body finds balance.
Taiji Qigong isn’t just a remedy; it’s also a preventive measure. When practiced daily the body is able to resist stressors and illness. When the body’s energy flows smoothly and harmoniously, it sustains life, nourishes the organs, and maintains health and vitality. Quantum physics shows us that solid matter, including our bodies, is the outermost shell of a multilayered energy body, that beneath the physical surface are levels of cells, molecules, atoms, and subatoms. We also know that subtle levels are more powerful than surface levels. The theory beneath energy-based modalities, like Taiji Qigong is that practitioners impact the whole by manipulating the subtle. That is why it is important, when learing Taiji Qigong, you are taught the subtlties of how the qi/energy is working.
The body has hundreds of acupoints. Imagine them like electrical plugs. Each is a place where the underlying meridian’s electrical charge runs close to the surface and is easy to access.
An expample of how using Taiji Qigong for a healing purposes, practitioners can move, breathe and use intention to an affected area. For instance, movement that reaches the head is helpful for ailments of the mind, like anxiety and stress. But equally when moving the whole body the opposite end of the meridian or opposite part of the body from the affected area of pain or discomfort are stimulated too. This then opens the entire channel of energy. If a person comes to class with a migraine, moving the feet usually helps release the tension. Every point has its own personality, its own use.
Taiji Qigong is therefore effective for so many conditions, especially for people with tough-to-treat conditions such as fibromyalgia, Parkinson's Disease, chronic fatigue, chronic pain, anxiety and depression.
Taiji Qigong is safe for almost everyone, and basic techniques are easy to learn. Whether you are looking for a basic tune-up or hoping for something more, give it a try.