Guest Author - Karen Huber
Qigong and tai chi are both meditative practices that use different movements to tap into inner energy. Tai chi is a practice of qigong, but it is performed with movement, and sometimes, a partner. Tai chi exercises are performed in sets that take longer to learn, but qigong can be learned more quickly because exercises are performed repetitiously.
Qigong is part of traditional Chinese medicine and has five main types for health, medical and religious purposes, martial arts, and folk arts. In the religious type, a goal for Buddhists is to reach enlightenment, for Daoists to increase longevity, and for Confucionists, the goal is to improve the self. The folk type of qigong, also known as peasant quigong, is an adaption that is still practiced today. Among the many quigong techniques are five major styles of Tai Chi Chuan: Chen, Yang, Wu, Hao & Sun, Lee.
The practice of Tai Chi Chuan, or tai chi, helps relax mind and body and develop awareness of balance, posture, strength, agility and rhythm. It is low impact and is based on eight energies: peng, lu, ji, an, leigh, tsai, kao, zhao. Most tai chi sessions will start with warm up exercises, often qigong exercises. Examples are “Awaken the Chi,” “Bridge over Water,” and “Wild Goose Looks for Food.” When the warm up is over, you can do tai chi exercise or longer qigong patterns. There are twelve health tai chi forms that can be repeated over 15 minutes when practicing the movements without a partner. When practicing with a partner, there are different movements for “pushing hands.” Other forms of tai chi include weapons training, sparring, and breathing exercises. Cool down of health tai chi sessions can include moves like “Stomping on the Tigers Tail,” “Three claps of Thunder,” and “Quieting the Chi.”
Included in meditation practices are mudras, or hand positions, which are used to bring energies into the body. The easiest and most well-known are having the tips of the thumb and index finger joining, other hand resting in lap, and the Hakini mudra, where the tips of the fingers from the right hand touch the opposite fingertips on the left hand. These can either be done alone for around 15 minutes, while sitting in lotus position, or as part of other meditation exercises. There are nine other mudras, which can be found with an Internet search for “mudras.”
Mantras are a part of many meditation forms and help the mind to empty of extraneous thoughts. single sound sounds like: "ohm" or “aum” are useful because they are uninterrupted. sounds. You can choose your own mantra or use longer mantras that consist of one or more sentences, as are used in various forms of meditation. Chanting is often used as a mantra, rhythmic speaking or singing of words or sounds on certain pitches. They can form a simple melody or more complex music that includes repetition of phrases. As with mantras, you can choose your own chant or listen to ready-made chants widely available on CDs.
Berkers, Ewald. “Introduction to Mudras.” Eclectic Energies. http://www.eclecticenergies.com/mudras/introduction.php
Harrison, R. Everyday Tai Chi: A Passport to Better Health & Lifetime Fitness. http://www.everyday-taichi.com/index.html
Massaro, Bentinho. “Mantra Meditation.” Yoga Mind Control: Enlightenment through Yoga and Meditation. http://www.yoga-mind-control.com/mantra-meditation.html
Monteith, Anthony. “Qi Gong: The Art of Ten Thousand Styles.” Ezine Articles. http://ezinearticles.com/?Qi-Gong:-The-Art-of-Ten-Thousand-Styles&id=6513468