The difference between t'ai chi and qi gong 

T'ai chi and qi gong are mind-body practices that are beneficial for both cancer survivors and caregivers. 

Cate Morrill, CTCI, a t'ai chi and qi gong instructor at Cancer Wellness, shares a brief overview of the difference between the two practices. 

What is t'ai chi? 

“T'ai chi is a system of exercise and movement developed long ago as a martial or training art that is now widely used for health and wellness,” explains Morrill. “It can be practiced by almost anyone and in almost any situation.” 

Often known as “moving meditation,” t'ai chi is a series of slow, gentle motions that are patterned after movements in nature. Most of the work is performed while standing and taking small steps, though it can be modified for seated practitioners as well. 

“Through continued and dedicated practice, t'ai chi offers many health benefits to the body, mind and spirit,” she says. “In many cases, participants will see benefits after just a few lessons or classes.” 

What is qi gong? 

Pronounced “chi gong,” qi gong is an internal process that has external movements. Qi means “life force,” the energy that powers our body and spirit. Gong is the term meaning work or gather. Qi Gong together means a form of movement and mind using intention and mindfulness to guide qi to make qi work. 

“Qi gong is often referred to as the ‘internal’ portion of t'ai chi,” explains Morrill. “Its physical expression is characterized by stationary movements that are repeated a certain number of times, such as three, six or nine times.” 

Practicing the same move over and over stimulates muscle, bone, heart, respiration and other functions in the body as shown through qi gong theory. 

What is the difference between tai chi and qi gong? 

“Qi gong can be thought of as a movement you do for a certain situation, as opposed to t'ai chi form, which is a series of movements that work on the entire body in a flowing sequence,” says Morrill. “For example, qi gong can be one move that helps open the lungs. The practitioner will repeat that specific move until he or she has felt the benefit begin to emerge.” 

T'ai chi classes always include the concepts and theories, and usually movements of qi gong, but a qi gong practice won’t necessarily include t'ai chi. 

Read Full Article here Piedmont Hospital Better Living

Health Benefits of t'ai chi and qi gong

T'ai chi has been shown to provide benefits with: 

  • Balance and fall prevention 
  • Blood glucose levels 
  • Blood circulation 
  • Blood pressure 
  • Bone strength 
  • Cardiac function 
  • Flexibility 
  • Function in arthritic joints 
  • Immune function 
  • Lymphatic fluid circulation 
  • Metabolic syndrome 
  • Muscle strength 
  • Pain from some chronic conditions 
  • Posture 
  • Range of motion after surgery 
  • Respiration (breathing)

Qi gong physical benefits (as well as many of the t'ai chi benefits above):

  • Builds strength in the muscles and bones 
  • Enhances concentration and deep breathing, which allows more benefits from the movements 
  • Encourages cardiovascular and respiratory fitness 
  • Stimulates the lymph system, which can help with lymphedema 

Mental and emotional benefits of t'ai chi and qi gong 

  • Better sleep 
  • Improved mood 
  • Increased physical energy 
  • More complete rest 
  • More clarity and focus 
  • Reduced depression, stress and anxiety

If you have experienced cancer treatment, you might have been told to expect a “new normal.” Morrill says the goal of her t'ai chi and qi gong classes is to help students thrive in their new normal and even return to their previous normal as closely as they can, or to create their own version of their “new normal”. 

“When we see the people come in and if they feel like they’ve been beaten down, we wish to give them the knowledge and practices that can help them turn that around. They say, ‘I might have been there, but now I see where I can be,’” says Morrill.  "Not only does it give them light at the end of the tunnel, it illuminates their path.” 

After just a few classes, Morrill says many students tell her, “I can’t believe how much better I feel.”

Read Full Article here. from Piedmont Cancer Wellness


Some comments from our students:

"I couldn't walk fast or run any more due to knee pain. I have gone back to running again and my knees are doing great!" 

"This work has changed so many aspects of my life, physically, emotionally..." 

"I can focus on the feeling of the movements and the energy when I am stressed at work, and I am then more productive and effective." 

"I have learned to relax when I want, get full of energy when I want, and share that great balance with my family." 

"My restless leg syndrome has stopped completely!" 

"I was practicing in line at the bank, it helped with back strain." 

"I did T'ai Chi walk downhill on slippery driveway and did not slip." 

"I am feeling so much more flexible." 

"I have better balance and awareness of movement." 

"Most times I remember “shoulders down” to relieve stress." 

"My back feels better, balance is better, all around, I feel like a new me!" 

"Usually I practice in the morning, and I can tell my legs are getting stronger."

"Very helpful for calmng and relaxing flexibility."

"Thank you, thank you thank you. Love how I feel after this workout. 68 years old and feel so much more balanced and flexible now. It also makes me feel proud each day after I complete your work out. I love the gracefulness of T'ai Chi and the affirmations at the end."

 "I needed to find this!! Thank you!! AAHHh."

"I work for an assisted living and memory care facility and this is so very inclusive and easy to follow. I really appreciate the work you do."

 "Tai Chi is new for me. I feel invigorated and energized and ready to take on my day! I will recommend this!!"

"This was so fun, thank you! Love how gentle it is on my joints."

"I really enjoy this class, no pressure. Relaxing and gentle stretching. Your voice is amazing encouraging and so friendly."

"Absolutely brilliant first introduction, thank you from Worcestershire, UK."

"I’m new to this and suffer from nerve damage this helps me thank you so much , I owe you a hug."

"Wow; I've been practicing t'ai chi for years now- recovering from leg being crushed for 2nd time - searched for seated t'ai chi; and so glad I found your class! Your teaching is powerfully soothing to my mind, body, and spirit. Thank you so very much for this. As I needed it."

"Easy, encouraging and relaxing. Thank you so much."

"Many kind thanks!!! This is excellent for me as I've had physical therapy for rotator cuff problems and frozen shoulder in the past two years. I've been looking for something easy like this to help me as I continue to do PT exercises at home. Your video has immediately helped me with my shoulder pain and range of motion in both shoulders!"

"Great program. Perfect for anyone with limited mobility that wishes to improve their Life. Gentle movements. Breathing. Getting the Chi moving."

"Very nice. Gentle and safe exercise. I like it. Got to do it myself to feel better and on to better health."

"This is an EXCELLENT class!!! I direct activities at a senior community. Thank you so much for considering those who need to be seated during exercises. I will personally promote this class to other activity directors. Thank you so much!"

"Hi thanks again for your class. The best that I have felt in a long time, on day 14 already. Big difference. Thank you for your explanation. Many blessings again. This has helped me relax even more."