Qigong: mindful movement made in China

Mon Feb 7, 2011 10:43am EST
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - If yoga is all the rage, can Qigong be far behind?

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's star rises in the west, devotees believe this 5,000-year-old energy cultivation system is poised to become the new kid on the block among rat racers hungry for a more serene form of fitness.

"As China becomes more of a player in the world, Chinese practice is becoming more mainstream," said Matthew Cohen, creator of the Tai Chi & Qi Gong Basics DVD, "just as yoga became popular when the Beatles went to India."

Cohen, an instructor at Sacred Energy Arts in Santa Monica, California, said unlike in India, yoga in the west has come to favor 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."

Tom Rogers, president of the Qigong Institute, a nonprofit educational organization, 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   Continued...

<p>Matthew Cohen demonstrates Qi Gong. Alabama Hills, California, 2006. REUTERS/Handout/AcaciaLifestyle.com</p>