What is tai chi?
Taijiquan, usually known in the West as tai chi, is an internal Chinese martial art, usually done today for its health and relaxation benefits. Taiji means "supreme ultimate" and quan means "martial art". It is suitable for people of all ages and levels of physical fitness. You might not recognise it as a martial art because of its slow, gentle movements.
The way we move and breath, stand and walk, and even sit, can have a positive effect on our general health. There are very few of us today who do not spend much of our time feeling tense. The hectic pace of modern living and lack of exercise leaves us tired and exhausted. Tai chi gently and steadily relaxes the body, and most importantly refreshes the mind.
A highly beneficial health care programme best known for its unique body and mind relaxing, stamina building, internal as well as external health enhancing effects, tai chi can help you achieve wellbeing and life balance.
This video shows mass demonstrations of tai chi and qigong, organised by the British Health Qigong Association.
You can watch lots more great demonstration videos at the Deyin Taijiquan Institute website.
What is qigong?
Qigong is an internal Chinese meditative practice with over 3000 years of history, which often uses slow graceful movements and controlled breathing techniques. The Chinese believe that this gentle exercise, which incorporates the mind, breathing and body, helps to cultivate and promote circulation of qi within the human body, thus enhancing a practitioner's overall health.
The Chinese character for qi, in qigong, can mean air, breath or life force. Gong means work, so qigong is therefore the practice of working with one's life force.
My teacher, Master Tary Yip, explains in a little more detail here: