Updated: Sep 23
When considering mind/body movement, you might think of yoga poses like Downward-Facing Dog, Triangle or Child's pose, but the slow, flowing movements of Tai Chi and Qigong can have a lasting impact on your body and your mind. Deep, rhythmic breathing and mental focus are a centerpiece of this style of movement, and there's strength and beauty in the journey.
Beyond the physical benefit, the ancient Chinese art of meditative movement feels very much like a graceful dance - once you find the flow. Like a dancer, you can learn the steps, but part of the pleasure of tai chi is that you can spend a lifetime exploring them.
Are you curious? Here are just three reasons you should take the plunge and try these forms of moving meditation.
Tai chi and qigong can provide balance and complement your current movement practices.
Do you love yoga, HIIT, cycling or Barre? Try tai chi and qigong for the perfect counterpoint to your regular workout regime! These soft martial arts can restore your energy, or qi (pronounced "chee"), improve your balance, perfect your postural alignment and foster muscular control.
Part of the beauty of these ancient practices are their constant, flowing movements. You will work on grounding, releasing tension, creating flow and mobilizing your joints. As someone who started their fitness journey in a spin class, lifting weights and prioritizing high intensity workouts, part of the unexpected benefit of tai chi to me has been in how it has improved my ability to focus, expanded my patience and introduced me to the beauty of the experience of the tai chi flow state. I can truly say that I now have more appreciation for the journey instead of having more of a singular focus on the destination.
It can reduce your pain.
Tai chi and qigong can bring relief from your pain, without drugs, in a safe, effective and non-addictive way. The rounded, circular motions of these practices are soothing to the joints and calming to the nervous system. Qigong and tai chi can help improve flexibility and range of motion as you learn to move in a focused and relaxed style.
Tai chi has proven to be effective for those with pain from rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA). One 2010 study exploring the benefits of tai chi for those with RA, found that participants reported a reduction in pain, improved mobility and enhanced quality of life after practicing tai chi for 12 weeks.
There is evidence that tai chi can provide improvement in the symptoms of those with fibromyalgia. In one study, researchers concluded that the mind-body approach of tai chi could presents a viable therapeutic option to include in the treatment plan for the management of fibromyalgia.
Chronic pain sufferers are always on the lookout for effective pain relief that is nonaddictive, effective and safe. A 2016 study found that a 12-week program of tai chi resulted in more than 50 percent pain reduction in 39 percent of patients with chronic nonspecific neck pain, compared with more than 50 percent pain reduction in 46 percent of study participants engaging in conventional neck exercises.
Tai chi promotes a healthy sleep cycle.
Do you struggle with sleep? Many of us experience challenges with sleep, whether it's related to a stressful situation or an on-going case of insomnia. If you are looking to catch more Z's, a regular Tai Chi practice may be the answer you've been waiting for.
Research published in the journal Nature and Science of Sleep found that individuals in their sample group, which included 75 adults ranging from 18 - 40 years of age, who practiced Tai Chi had significantly lower levels of anxiety and greater improvements in sleep when compared to the control group. These findings suggest Tai Chi as a possible non-pharmaceutical solution to improve anxiety and poor sleep quality.
Also, a systematic review and meta-analysis published in the Journal of Sleep Disorders and Therapy found nine randomized trials reported that Tai Chi significantly improved sleep with regular practice.
With consistent practice, Qigong and Tai Chi can calm racing thought patterns, decrease cortisol in your body from a stressful day, decrease pain, boost your immune system and focus your mind. No matter your age or ability level, including these meditative movement practices in your week can bring you more peace, balance and vibrant health.
If you'd like to jump right in and give it a try, I've included a Daily 10 practice that's focused on Tai Chi and Qigong-style movement. You'll find more of these quick 10 minute movement practices - cardio, core-focused Pilates, interval training, yoga and more - at the Core Connection Wellness YouTube channel. We'd love to see you there!