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Tai Chi and Qi Gong Practice Benefits Well-Being

Updated on July 3, 2018
janshares profile image

Janis has been a student of tai chi and qi gong for 14 years. It has become a major outlet for finding peace and serenity in her life.

The Benefits of Tai Chi and Qi Gong Include Peace and Serenity

Janis enjoys her morning qi gong exercise at the 2011 SkyValley Taiji Retreat in Canaan Valley, West Virginia.
Janis enjoys her morning qi gong exercise at the 2011 SkyValley Taiji Retreat in Canaan Valley, West Virginia. | Source

Discovering the Benefits of Tai Chi and Qi Gong Practice

My introduction to tai chi began in October of 2003, offered at a local wellness program by my instructor Laoshi Taj (Thomas Johnson, founder of SkyValley Taiji).

My study consisted of 2-hour Saturday morning classes and some 1-hour Wednesday evenings that primarily included Yang style tai chi and qi gong breathing exercises.

I chose to take tai chi as an outlet to decrease stress that I encountered on the job as a counselor providing crisis intervention services and therapy to police officers and their families.

Little did I know the larger role that the practice of tai chi would play in my life and the unexpected journey of self-discovery and wellness benefits.

World Tai Chi Day 2016

Practicing my tai chi for the camera at our annual World Tai Chi & Qi Gong Day at the Greenbelt Recreation Center, Greenbelt, MD.
Practicing my tai chi for the camera at our annual World Tai Chi & Qi Gong Day at the Greenbelt Recreation Center, Greenbelt, MD. | Source

Learning Tai Chi Forms

Class content has since expanded employing intense training in the Wudang Neijia tradition to include several styles of tai chi (Yang, Chen, Wu, Xingi, Bagua) and qi gong. I have also learned more advanced forms such as Liuhebafa.

It can take several months or even years of study before one can truly appreciate the benefits of tai chi with full understanding.

You're so focused on trying to follow the basic principles, hold correct stance, breathe, learn the forms, and correctly execute the movements, that you cannot fully grasp the essence of the art.

Laoshi Taj often says, "Tai chi is simple but not easy." He strongly suggests using a journal to record our frustrations and progress. Below is an excerpt from my very first journal entry:

My First Tai Chi Journal Entry

"I started tai chi classes today. It was harder than I thought it would be, physically and mentally. I have a hard time retaining the sequences in movements. I figured out that I'm trying to learn tai chi in 'parts' instead of learning the 'whole.' I'm missing the forest for the trees."

Tai Chi Wu Style Form

Wu Style Form at 2015 Wong People Tournament/Washington, DC.
Wu Style Form at 2015 Wong People Tournament/Washington, DC. | Source

Tai Chi Styles

What is your favorite style of tai chi?

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Teacher Leading Student in Qi Gong Meditation

Laoshi instructs student at tai chi retreat in 2011.
Laoshi instructs student at tai chi retreat in 2011. | Source

Taiji 5 Body Principles and Energetic Path

Over time, I was able to incorporate the five body principles Laoshi drilled into us regularly, as the foundation upon which all else falls into place:

  • Body straight and centered; mind straight and centered
  • Cultivate 'sung', including a breath that is long, slow, fine, and deep
  • Sit upon a tall stool - including hip, knee, and toe alignment
  • Allow all movements to be lead by the waist
  • Discern between full and empty in all movements

Since tai chi is classified as an internally focused martial art, progress is achieved by engaging in extensive periods of discerning introspection.

According to the teachings of Laoshi, once the physical, emotional, and intellectual alignments are nurtured and refined, the proper execution of the movements emanate from deep within the student, allowing "jing" or essence to manifest visibly in the world.

This is the foundation upon which Laoshi emphasizes the next set of principles referred to as the Energetic Path:

  • Taiji is conceived in the mind
  • Manifests first in the waist
  • Expressed in the legs
  • Then the arms
  • All as directed by the heart, which in turn calms the mind

Tai Chi Practice Helps Tournament Performance

2009 First Tournament/ 24 movement form/  Luo Kwang Lu Heritage All Kung Fu Championship in Washington, DC
2009 First Tournament/ 24 movement form/ Luo Kwang Lu Heritage All Kung Fu Championship in Washington, DC | Source

Applying the Principles With Practice

During my first few years of incorporating the basic principles and learning the forms, I slowly began to understand what "practice" really meant. It takes a lot more than just learning and memorizing a form to maximize your tai chi experience. I thought it might be time to consider entering a tournament.

As a spectator at tournaments, I was intrigued and felt that one day I would like to share in such a forum. It took six years before I felt ready to enter.

About five months before my first tournament in June of 2009, I started to take the "practice" of my tai chi more seriously by reading the classic books of tai chi study and searching for resources online. I practiced more frequently in my backyard, my living room, and my office at work. I occasionally went to a local park to practice in a public place with nature which I found contributed greatly to my preparation.

I also scheduled additional lessons outside of class with my shifu.

Tai Chi Fan Form

2009 First Tournament Fan Form
2009 First Tournament Fan Form | Source

Sharing My Tai Chi

I did well for my first tournament. My best accomplishment was a decrease in my anxiety and an increase in my confidence level. The medals were not as significant as you would think.

It is all relative, depending on the number of entrants, categories, age groupings, style and school, experience level, and the judges.

The point was to share my tai chi, not to compete against anyone but myself. Getting feedback and critique from the judges was more valuable than the medal itself.

I have since shared at other tournaments in 2010 and 2011, receiving first place medals for my fan form in Other Weapons category. The best way to express my experience at tournament is through my poetry. This poem was written about my second tournament showing in 2009:

"Like Water Flowing" (JLE 2010)



Like water flowing, music moving at one speed,

Underneath the flow is a current of anxiety,

Rushing like waves, moving too fast.

But from the spectator's eye, it flows lovely at one pace,

As waist turns and limbs spread out,

Rounded and extended to the tips of my fingers.

I push my hand through the air,

My body flows as I take a gentle step,

As I create forms in sequences of full and empty.

My jing is good as it flows through my hands,

Everything moving together in sync,

As I balance on one leg, shaking slightly.

I breathe to stay calm and steady,

As I try not to observe the observers,

And gracefully share with them my best tai chi.

Tai Chi Increases Focus and Concentration

Tai Chi Fan Form/2011 Wong People Tournament Washington, DC
Tai Chi Fan Form/2011 Wong People Tournament Washington, DC | Source
Tai Chi Fan Form/2011 Wong People Tournament Washington, DC
Tai Chi Fan Form/2011 Wong People Tournament Washington, DC | Source

Regular Tai Chi Practice

My weekly classes, personal study, and participation in tournaments have given me a better understanding and respect for the practice of the art of tai chi and the discipline required to pay homage to this ancient tradition.

As a result, I have been able to maximize my experience as I continue to train and grow as a student.

Regular practice is essential which I still need to improve upon. I've learned that tai chi cannot just be considered a mode of stress reduction as I naively thought in 2003.

That minimizes and disrespects the art and the masters who so generously passed it down through the generations.

The practice of the martial art of tai chi must be incorporated into the daily life in order for full benefits and growth to be attained.

For this I strive, as I continue to cultivate inner peace and stability, and express my "jing" through my tai chi experience, and reach new levels of mastery.

Closing Qi Gong Practice

Qi Gong is for warm-up and relaxation.
Qi Gong is for warm-up and relaxation. | Source

© 2012 Janis Leslie Evans

Comments

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    • janshares profile imageAUTHOR

      Janis Leslie Evans 

      3 years ago from Washington, DC

      Thank you, Mitchell.

    • Mitchell Coleman profile image

      Mitchell C. Coleman 

      3 years ago from Bronx, New York

      Good JOB!

    • janshares profile imageAUTHOR

      Janis Leslie Evans 

      4 years ago from Washington, DC

      Oh yes, all forms of tai chi are presented in the competitions. Tai chi is a small component of the larger martial arts tournament, which includes all types of martial arts. Thank you for reading this hub. I'm happy you enjoyed it.

    • The Examiner-1 profile image

      The Examiner-1 

      4 years ago

      Hello Janis,

      I have looked at various exercises, tried a few and only practice one - tai chi. I do it for relaxation and because the exercise is easy to do. I enjoyed reading your article but I was surprised about the tournaments. I have never read, nor heard, about tai chi being competitive.

      Kevin

    • janshares profile imageAUTHOR

      Janis Leslie Evans 

      5 years ago from Washington, DC

      Great! Thanks for stopping by and reading this hub.

    • Arielqiao profile image

      Arielqiao 

      5 years ago

      I also practice Yang style Taichi, and I benefit a lot from it.

    • janshares profile imageAUTHOR

      Janis Leslie Evans 

      5 years ago from Washington, DC

      OMG, Laurinzo, not at all. I'm honored that you liked it that much. Thank you so much.

    • Laurinzo Scott profile image

      Live To Write 

      5 years ago from Phoenix, Az.

      I hope you don't mind this one is so informative...i linked it to one of my hubs...

    • janshares profile imageAUTHOR

      Janis Leslie Evans 

      5 years ago from Washington, DC

      Thanks. It does take a lot of focus but it is very relaxing. Thanks for reading and for vote up.

    • 2besure profile image

      Pamela Lipscomb 

      5 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      I looks like this takes a lot of focus and discipline. When I went to Beijing years ago, I used to see people doing this in the park in the morning. Very interesting topic. Vote Up!

    • janshares profile imageAUTHOR

      Janis Leslie Evans 

      5 years ago from Washington, DC

      Your comments are so very much appreciated. I'm so glad you were "directed" here and now will follow your friend's suggestion. He is correct, tai chi will help. Thank you for stopping by.

    • Backwater Sage profile image

      Backwater Sage 

      5 years ago from Old Elbow Creek

      What coincidence. I am an old washed up surfer. My friend was bugging me to join him at Tai Chi, get back in shape, and start surfing again (used to be good).

      "What about my old busted up knees, back, and everything else I messed up playing football and getting into car wrecks?"

      He says, "Trust me. This will help, and you will love it."

      Your article, and photos have convinced me to give it a try.

      I never knew there were competitions. Aren't ancient traditions cool? Too bad we have mostly trends to follow.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 

      5 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Thanks, Jan. If I can just get the proper sequences, it will all come back to me.

    • janshares profile imageAUTHOR

      Janis Leslie Evans 

      5 years ago from Washington, DC

      Certainly. "The Complete Book of Tai Chi" by Stewart McFarlane, published by Barnes and Noble, 2001

      I also recommend the two books listed on this hub. There is explanation of basic movements in both.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 

      5 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Wonderful ! I forgot to ask you something. I have been looking for a long time for a book or site that would show the movements. I once had the instruction sheets and illustrated step by step movements and over the years they got lost. Can you recommend a good book that I can refresh my memory with?

    • janshares profile imageAUTHOR

      Janis Leslie Evans 

      5 years ago from Washington, DC

      You're so welcome, Phyllis. Thank you sooooo much for stopping by, I really appreciate your taking the time to read and comment. That fact that you liked it and will use it for inspiration is icing on my cake!

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 

      5 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      This is a hub I will return to often, Jan. Very well-written and helpful. I practiced Tai Chi many years ago and have forgotten the order of movements, but never forgot the body, mind, and spirit connection that needs to flow.

      Thank you for writing this.

    • janshares profile imageAUTHOR

      Janis Leslie Evans 

      5 years ago from Washington, DC

      Thanks so much, greeneryday. Im so happy to receive your comment and hear that you learned more about tai chi. I appreciate that very much.

    • greeneryday profile image

      greeneryday 

      5 years ago from Some tropical country

      this is really interesting subject and great to know that not only it makes you healthier but tai chi helps you to fight stress too. I knew a little about tai chi before but not this much, thanks to you! voted up and more!

    • janshares profile imageAUTHOR

      Janis Leslie Evans 

      5 years ago from Washington, DC

      Thanks so much, glad u enjoyed it. I hope it does inspire!

    • profile image

      Rosetta 

      5 years ago

      J. this is a most inspiring article and truly reflects the advantages which the body receives through the practice of this amazing form. This article should encourage those who are not students to try it and those of us who are to definitely continue.

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