If you haven’t seen it, there was a wonderful article in Time last week.
I keep saying that a revolution is brewing in the world of qigong and tai chi, and this article is yet another sign. I’m thrilled to see an article like this in such a big publication.
Click the link below to go straight to the article, or scroll down to see some excerpts, and to hear my thoughts.
(Note: don’t bother watching the video. There’s no tai chi in there.)
Here are my thoughts on this article, and the state of tai chi and qigong revolution…
Is it Really Tai Chi?
Whenever I see an article like this, the first thing I ask myself is as follows:
“Is it really tai chi they’re talking about?”
Often, when articles and research studies refer to tai chi, they’re actually referring to a mix of tai chi and qigong.
For example, when this article says that tai chi is as good as jogging for lowering the risk of death in men, it’s probably not just tai chi that they’re referring to.
If you look at the study itself (as I always do), there’s very little detail about the kind of tai chi used. There’s no mention of the style, the teacher, or the routines used.
After decades of looking at the fine print of research studies on tai chi, I’ve concluded that they’re usually referring to a mix of tai chi and qigong.
At the very least, the participants are using some qigong to “warm up” before doing a tai chi form.
So when you see “tai chi” in an article like this, think “tai chi + qigong”.
Is it Really As Good as CrossFit?
Whether they’re doing tai chi or qigong or both in these studies — is it fair to say that it’s as good as CrossFit?
Yes and no.
If your goal is to look good naked, then CrossFit is undoubtedly a better choice.
But if your goal is to improve fitness and endurance in the heart and lungs without intense workouts…
…or if your goal is to reduce arthritis pain…
…or if your goal is to improve heart and kidney function…
…or if you want some of the many health benefits mentioned in the 600 academic papers referenced in the The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi…
..then tai chi and qigong are probably a better choice.
Another reason I’m thrilled about this article is because of quotes like this:
“But maybe the most compelling reason to give tai chi a shot is its ability to strengthen the connections between your mind and body, which can help you move through life with greater awareness and pleasure.”
We all know that mindfulness is all the rage right now. And that’s a good thing. Mindfulness is magic, and the world needs more of it.
When publications like Time talk about mindfulness and the mind-body connection — people listen. The research has been there for years now, but most people (and most doctors) tend to be 10-20 years behind the research.
An article like this may inspire people who otherwise might never think of tai chi to go give it a try. And that’s a good thing in my book.
Tai Chi vs. Yoga
Another quote that intrigued me was this one:
“Even with yoga, you can do it and have your mind be somewhere else,” Irwin says. “It’s very hard to do tai chi and not be present.”
I’m sure that yoga fans will disagree with this, and I think they may have a point.
Although I firmly believe that qigong will one day be bigger than yoga, people can ABSOLUTELY do tai chi without being present and aware.
The same goes for qigong.
Mindfulness has more to do with the teacher than the art.
For example, I’ve encountered literally thousands of students who had years of prior experience in qigong or tai chi but who had never been taught to apply mindfulness to these arts.
In my teaching of both qigong and tai chi, I emphasize the importance of mindfulness. Those who have learned from me know that entering into a meditative (or zen) state of mind is critical for both qigong and tai chi.
By doing this, you turn these arts into a flowing meditation.
In fact, you might even call them a flowing form of zen. Hey, that’s catchy! Flowing Zen…
Anyway, where was I? Oh right. Mindfulness!
If you want to get the most out of tai chi and qigong, then you need to learn how to bring your mind back to the present moment even while flowing through qigong and tai chi exercises.
This is called mindfulness.
Try “Tai Chi” Right Now
If you are brand new and you want to give “tai chi” a try, then click here for a free online course.
I put tai chi in quotes because you’re really learning a qigong exercise that is commonly found in tai chi called “Gathering Qi from the Cosmos”.
Whether it’s tai chi or qigong doesn’t matter. What matters is that the video and the guided audio will help you to experience the mindfulness benefits of these arts.
And when it comes to mindfulness, tai chi is undoubtedly better for you than CrossFit! Mindfully yours, Sifu Anthony I’m Anthony Korahais, and I used qigong to heal from clinical depression, low back pain, anxiety, and chronic fatigue. I’ve already taught thousands of people from all over the world how to use qigong for their own stubborn health challenges. As the director of Flowing Zen and a board member for the National Qigong Association, I'm fully committed to helping people with these arts. In addition to my blog, I also teach online courses and offer in-person retreats and workshops.