I love the idea of yoga. The stretching, meditation, calm all sound good to me. And I’ve tried. I got my mat, my yoga pants; I went to class. Turns out, I don’t think I bend that way. I know, I know. Before you yogis yell at me, a little practice and some discipline, and I probably could bend that way. But, I’m stubborn. Besides, what I really want is an exercise that has all the amazing benefits of yoga (de-stressing, internal and external balance, self-awareness, improved health) with a touch more movement. Those poses are great, but I want something different. And I’ve found it. Qigong!
Pronounced chee gung, it is, much like yoga, an Eastern practice that focuses on using self-discipline to center your vital energy and improve your health. According to the Qigong Institute, the exercise is a combination of meditation, relaxation, breathing, movement, mind-body integration and intention. What does that mean? Basically, you meld deep-breathing exercises with slow, graceful movements, allowing you to focus on your body and its needs. Still sounds a little confusing? Well, if you’ve ever practiced Tai Chi or Kung Fu, you’ve practiced Qigong. Both are martial arts forms of the exercise. And all of the different forms out there, from the simple to the advanced to the martial arts, make it an exercise for all ages. Anyone from the young to the old can do it, and the benefits are plentiful. You not only burn calories, you reduce stress, improve your flexibility, ease pain and develop an overall better quality of life. Could this get any better? Absolutely! Researchers at the University of Illinois have found that Qigong may help older adults fight the flu. The practice helps improve the magnitude and duration of the flu vaccine, enabling the body to build more antibodies against the illness. So what are you waiting for? Mix up your exercise routine and balance your Qi!