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MOVE

Two exercises to heal your mind, body and soul

Our modern lifestyles are becoming increasingly more hectic, frantic and chaotic. We seem to put more demands on ourselves and those around us in an effort to accomplish and achieve more. We live under the assumption that speeding up allows us to live fuller lives, but this assumption comes with a price. What if what we actually need is to slow down and find more balance and meaning in our daily lives? What if slowing down actually gives us the resilience to meet the demands of our lives in a more graceful and peaceful way?

The wisdom of ancient China: Tai chi and qi gong

Tai chi and qi gong are two types of mind-body breathing practices that can help you meet the demands of modern living in a more graceful and gentle way. Both forms of gentle physical exercise help you relax and improve circulation while promoting healing and well-being. These practice can help you discover where you're holding your stress and tension, and teach you to soften that tension. This can be physical, mental or emotional tension that, over time, impedes the healing process. Tai chi and qi gong also can be modified for people of any ability. Beyond physical exercise, this form of meditation allows you to become more present with each moment of your life, helping you let go of unnecessary stress and tension that can deplete your precious energy.

Tai chi

Pronounced "tie chee", this unique form of self-healing incorporates slow, soft, gentle movements, breathing and mindfulness. Originally taught as a martial art, today tai chi is practiced primarily as a form of moving meditation. When I was in China, I was amazed how often I would see large groups of people practicing tai chi in parks across Beijing. People of all sizes, shapes, ages and abilities would gather daily in parks to practice this beautiful form of movement. There have been numerous studies about the health benefits of tai chi, including relaxation, stress reduction, improving balance, flexibility and coordination and reducing risk of falls in the elderly. 

Qi gong

Closely related to tai chi, qi gong (pronounced chee gong) is another form of gentle exercise and self-healing. Often translated as "cultivating the energy of life" qi gong is a soft, dynamic form of movement that combines choreographed, fluid movement with coordinated breath, and mindfulness or guided imagery. There are many different styles of qi gong including practices that can be helpful if you are dealing with chronic pain or the effects of cancer treatment and chemotherapy.

Because there are many styles of tai chi and qi gong, it's important to find a style and qualified instructor that works well for you. I always recommend you go and watch a class to determine if it is a good fit for your particular needs and abilities. In my many years of practice and teaching, one thing remains clear to me: slowing down and softening up areas of tension makes me feel better.

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