Common Questions – Mind-Body Practices
Here are answers to the frequently asked questions mind-body practitioner Dr. Perez gets about tai chi, qigong and meditation. If your question is not below, please ask Dr. Perez and he will get back to you promptly with the answer.
> WHAT IS TAI CHI?
Tai chi chuan refers to a specific set of movements originally passed down from martial arts tactics that today are used for the benefit of health and wellness. Routines consist of a high-intensity, low-impact series of movements that take the body’s joints through their full range of motion.
> WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF TAI CHI?
A core principle of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is that one should actively maintain physical and mental balance. Tai chi is one method TCM adherents use to maintain their physical and mental balance. Engaging in a regular Tai chi routine increases flexibility, strengthens breathing, sharpens mental focus, and promotes correct balance as well as weight distribution.
> WHAT CONDITIONS DOES TAI CHI HELP?
Multiple studies have found tai chi has favorable effects on the exercise capacity of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, congestive heart failure, hypertension, and osteoarthritis. It also decreases the risk of falls in older people and contributes to quicker recovery times post-surgery. And a regular tai chi practice can help alleviate depression and anxiety.
> IS TAI CHI THE SAME AS TAIJIQUAN?
Yes, they are the same thing. The Chinese language does not use the western alphabet. When Chinese words are translated into English, they are sometimes spelled differently depending on who does the translation. But regardless of the spelling, tai chi and taijiquan refer to the same concept.
> HOW LONG IS A TYPICAL TAI CHI SESSION?
Tai chi only takes between 3 to 15 minutes to do, once you fully learn the solo routine.
> HOW MANY TIMES A WEEK SHOULD I DO TAI CHI?
If a person practices once a day, that is enough to begin to see benefits.
> WHAT IS QIGONG?
Pronounced chee gong, in English qigong translates directly as “energy work”. It describes a collection of physical and mental exercises aimed at strengthening one’s body and mind. One could consider qigong the Eastern medical equivalent to the Western practice of physical therapy or calisthenics, but with a focus on the classical Chinese system of anatomy and physiology.
> WHAT IS MEDICAL QIGONG?
Medical qigong refers to qigong routines that address health concerns of the patient (as opposed to, for example, martial qigong, which increases strength and resilience). This usually amounts to a simple exercise or practice taught to patients as part of their session that will help with their symptoms. Medical qigong at the Yi Guan clinic also includes acupressure point massage. The practitioner will either perform the massage on patients during treatment session or teach the technique to patients so they can perform it at home.
> WHAT DOES QIGONG HELP WITH?
Thinking of qigong as the mindful Eastern medical counterpart to physical therapy, there are qigong routines for just about anything one can think of, such as alleviating pain, increasing flexibility, settling the stomach, reducing blood pressure, and even improving eyesight.
> WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TAI CHI AND QIGONG?
Tai chi refers to a specific set of movements originally passed down from martial arts tactics that today are used for the benefit of health and wellness. Qigong broadly refers to any exercise routine that strengthens or heals the body and/or mind from the perspective of the classical Chinese viewpoint on anatomy and physiology. With this in mind, especially the way it is taught at Yi Guan clinic, tai chi is a specific routine within the concept of qigong.
> HOW MANY TIMES A WEEK SHOULD I DO QIGONG?
It is best to do it every day. But simple practices lasting 3 to 5 minutes are easy to learn. You can do these practices every morning as part of your preparation for the day. Or even do the practices every night as part of your wind down from the day. Other routines can be done when you need them, how often or infrequent that ends up being. Combine qigong with meditation (and tai chi, if it fits your needs), and you will have a solid mind-body practice. You can do all of these practices within a span of 20 minutes. If you don’t know how to start, contact Dr. Perez and he can help design a mind-body practice that is custom for your needs.
> WHAT IS MEDITATION?
There seems to be a lot of mystery surrounding meditation. But simply put, meditation is nothing more than training your focus and awareness.
> IS MEDITATION PART OF CHINESE MEDICINE?
Yes. In Chinese medical theory, the mind is not separate from the body. Meditation is a part of everyone’s road to wellness.
> WHAT ARE ADVANTAGES OF MEDITATION?
While people pursue meditation for spiritual purposes, a practical application is to gain the mental tools for achieving and retaining a calm state of mind in the face of stress. And doing this regularly has been shown to increase focus, decrease anxiety, help with sleep, manage blood pressure, boost energy, and alleviate depression.
> HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU MEDITATE TO SEE RESULTS?
It has been said that the most important part of an effective meditation practice is not how long you meditate, or how deep you meditate, but how often you meditate. Generally speaking, 5 to 10 minutes for 3 to 4 days a week is sufficient to see immediate results. But even a simple breath meditation, taking less than 5 minutes to learn and done when you need it, can instantly reduce anxiety and stress. If you are having difficulty setting up your meditation practice, contact Dr. Perez for help.
> IS QIGONG AS GOOD AS YOGA? / IS TAI CHI AS GOOD AS MEDITATION? / IS QIGONG AS GOOD AS MEDITATION?
It is better to contemplate which routine is best for you rather than which is better in general. Circumstances always matter. What are you hoping to accomplish and what are the tools and practices available to you? This determines what is best. There is a lot out there, so sometimes the beginner doesn’t know where to start. A consultation with Dr. Perez can help sort it out for you.
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