The Trouble and the Fascination
by Chad Roberts
Tai chi and qigong (pronounced chee gong) can be regarded as health practices that have a spiritual bearing, and there seems to be a consistent trickle of people that are interested enough to come and see what it’s all about. Naturally, some peoplee click with it straight away and never look back, while others know it’s not for them and never come back. So for anyone else that’s interested, I’d like to shed some light on it, and offer classes here in Seaford for anyone that remains interested after knowing a little more.
Originating in China, qigong is the art/science of cultivating chi (life-force energy), which stems back over 3,000 years. Then, about 300 – 400 years ago, aspects of this were infused into a martial art and tai chi chuan emerged. Martial artists required good fighting skills, body and mind in optimum condition, and the ability to heal well. With monastic-like practice, tai chi brought the deep conditioning they sought. Over centuries however, it’s been practised far more commonly just as a gentle exercise that develops and maintains good structure and function of the body.
There are many different styles and it’s not hugely important which one you do, that’ll be guided more by what’s available around you. Taught correctly, all genuine styles provide a method for shedding tension and feeling more alive.
But the trouble with tai chi a nd qigong is they’re not as easy as they look. Difficulties include finding the time and inclination to practise most days (a pre requisite for accessing the benefits), wondering if you’re practising correctly, and finding our your body and mind might be more restricted than you’d hoped. Also it can be difficult to see how standing still, moving only slowly and not getting the heart racing, can do anything significant. Basically, the obstructions are in the body and the mind, and for anyone prepared to offer some perseverance, tai chi and qigong provide an effective method to unify and enliven both.
If your initial ember of interest isn’t extinguished by coming away from your first class with only one basic thing learnt, then you’re over the first hurdle. Then if you can knuckle down and come out the other side of a couple of months of reasonable practise (20-30 minutes a day, 4 days out of 7), you could realistically expect to notice some positive, deep setting change in how you feel and/or how you move. The most common early benefits accessed are better balance, improved agility and sense of general vitality.
For many people that’s enough, and due to the gentle nature of these practices, this can be taken well into old age, mitigating aches and pains along the way. It also becomes progressively clearer how relaxed, connected movement can bring an unexpected sense of relaxed power and health.
Then there’s the spectrum of dedication and subsequent access to increasing benefits, right up to high-end masters who practise many hours a day for years on end to achieve what these arts have to offer at that level of dedication – prpbably profoundly deep awareness, health and fascination.
Tai chi and qigong are suitable fo all ages and body types and require nothing except a bit of space to practise and a willingness to do so.
Chad Roberts teaches qigong at Pilates Studio Seaford and during the coronavirus lockdown has moved to teaching online. For information about classes and introductory workshops search ‘movements towards health ‘ on facebook, or email email@example.com