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Is Qigong the new kid on the fitness block?

Published: Tuesday, February 8, 2011, 17:10 [IST]

Wellington, Feb 8 (ANI): Just as yoga became popular when the Beatles came to India, a 5,000-year-old Chinese energy cultivation system is poised to become the new kid on the block among rat racers hungry for a more serene form of fitness.

Sometimes called Chinese yoga, Qigong is a mind-body practice that melds slow graceful movements, mental focus and deep abdominal breathing to boost and balance a person's vital energy, or 'qi'.

"As China becomes more of a player in the world, Chinese practice is becoming more mainstream," Stuff.co.nz quoted Matthew Cohen, creator of the Tai Chi and Qi Gong Basics DVD, as saying.

Cohen, an instructor at Sacred Energy Arts in Santa Monica, California, said unlike in India, yoga in the west has come to favour the athletic at the expense of the meditative.

"The world is getting more crowded, cars and computers getting faster," he said.

"Qigong is about going slower, so internally you create space," he added.

Tom Rogers, president of the Qigong Institute, a non-profit educational organisation, said Qigong is the precursor to all Chinese energy practices.

"Tai Chi is the most well known moving form of Qigong. Kung Fu is also a form of Qigong," Rogers said from his home in Los Altos, California.

The slow, spiral exercises of Qigong, such as Rolling the Ball or Wave Hands in the Cloud, require no equipment, can be done anywhere, and are easy to learn.

"I call it getting an MBA: Movement, Breathing and Awareness," said Rogers.

"One is adjusting your posture so energy flow is better; two is slow, deep, abdominal breathing; three is awareness, or trying to get thoughts out of your head," he added.

Balance, posture, breath control and relaxation are among the benefits of Qigong, according to Jessica Matthews, an exercise physiologist with the American Council on Exercise.

She said some research trials have also reported statistically significant decreases in the incidence of stroke, decreased blood pressure, and increases in bone mineral density and improved effectiveness of cancer therapy among practitioners. (ANI)

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