Fitness Friday: Chi What?

water-dropletI’m not going to lie, when it’s cold and rainy for the better part of a week, I get a little grumpy. I miss the outdoors, the sunshine, walking, jogging, the not getting sleet pelted against my eyeglasses. It makes me want to curl up under a blanket and sulk. But I’ve found a better way of coping, not just with the bad weather, but also with my negative attitude and the resulting tendency toward lethargy it generates. This coping method is a gentle form of exercise that’s also part meditation, so it’s a good way to get up off the couch and moving when you don’t feel like it, and it’s an excellent stress reliever. I’m talking about Qigong (sometimes spelled Chi Gong, and pronounced chee-gong).

Qigong is an ancient form of martial arts that doesn’t involve fighting. The practitioner moves through a flowing sequence of postures in a kind of slow dance intended to maximize the flow of energy throughout the body. Qi is Chinese for “life force” or “vital energy” and Gong means “accomplishment” or “skill.” Specifically, it’s a skill developed through repeated practice (so it would probably be good if I did it more often than once every three months; I’m working on it). Qigong is very similar to Tai Chi, another Chinese movement exercise. The main difference between the two is really the postures and movements used in each. As a total newbie, I’ve found the sequences used in beginner Qigong to be a bit easier to pick up than those used in Tai Chi. Like yoga, a major focus in Qigong is the breath and mental focus. It is essentially a moving form of meditation.

Since I am far from being a Qigong master, I won’t give you a written guideline or post a video of me showing you how to get started (though that would be amusing). Instead, I’m sharing one of the videos that I enjoy following along with. Qigong is extremely low-intensity and very adaptable to many physical conditions, so it’s safe for nearly anyone to practice. Why not check out the video below and give it a try? It might even make you feel better about the bad weather.

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