by Keith Sharp, a local experienced and approved Tai Chi & Qigong (TCQ) instructor
Qigong (pronounced Chee Ghun) is an easily accessible mindful movement practice for all ages, good for promoting balance and wellbeing.
Qi is the energy that runs through us all, while Gong means the skill acquired through practicing a discipline. Qigong is therefore an energy skill and offers a system of healing exercises and meditations to enhance all areas of life.
It is some 3,000 years old and forms the basis of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Qi is ‘life force’ with Qigong considered ‘internal energy cultivation.’ The evidence base that Qigong is safe has the potential to become a cost effective and widely accessible holistic practice.
Many of us would benefit from Qigong programmes, where deep breathing, posture, balance, confidence, flexibility and muscle tone is improved, thus reducing falls, strokes and many other debilitating illnesses and injuries, working on the principle that ‘prevention rather than cure, combined with perseverance will prevail’.
Many clinical professionals regard prevention as a form of after care, following illness, surgery or treatment. Implementing simple prevention programmes would reduce problems in the first place. The NHS does not provide real funds for comprehensive prevention. As we age, our healthcare needs become more complex and expensive, resulting in additional strains on the NHS. The possibility of individuals having to fund health care through personal financial resources or insurance will undoubtedly increase. Investing in personal care exercises will therefore reduce the demands on health and social care. Within the wide range of Qigong, Shibashi a set of 18 easy exercises ideally suited for standing, sitting or people in wheelchairs are perfect for the elderly and less able, including visually impaired, blind, Parkinson’s, COPD etcetera and are enjoyed in 45 minutes of a relaxing and social atmosphere. Yi Jin Jing, muscle and tendon strengthening exercises, and other sets are more suitable for improvers.
Tai Chi (TC) is considered to be around 700 years old and was only introduced to the west, along with Qigong in the 1960’s. It is considered to be one of the most beneficial holistic exercise routines for health and wellness.
Whilst the original long form of movements dates back to the mid 1800’s, a shortened Yang form, which consists of some 37 postures, but over 100 movements can be taught, with postures adapted in classes to suit a wide range of ages and abilities. TC can be beneficial for those with a range ailments including Parkinson’s, COPD, Osteoporosis, cancer and sight loss; improving balance so reducing falls, flexibility, coordination, confidence, breathing, recovery from illness and injury, and can help either standing or sitting. Participating in a programme also creates and enhances social engagement.
The gentle and controlled movements can be used by those in wheelchairs, hip and knee replacement people, and anyone with whole range of other symptoms. More people suffer from a range of problems known as multi morbidity, and it is envisaged that the combination of Tai Chi and Qigong will become a major complementary therapy approved by the National Health Service and Social Care as funding challenges place more responsibility on the individual to contribute financially to their own care. The perseverance of the community to commit to their own health and wellness programmes cannot be over stated.
The local alliance, Our Ageing Population and the Role of TCQ, are committed to promoting Tai Chi Qigong for accreditation as the exercises are ideal for those embarking on improving lifestyle and longevity.