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Read part one of our interview with instructor John Crowl.

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Holistic Healing: Tai Chi and Qigong, Part II

FoodFit founder and CEO Ellen Haas recently sought out an opportunity to take a much-needed deep breath. During a getaway to El Monte Sagrado, an eco-spa and resort in Taos, New Mexico, she and her daughter unearthed a new passion for the practices of tai chi and qigong. These ancient Chinese practices promote healing, relaxation, physical health and spirituality.

For a better understanding of tai chi and qigong, FoodFit spoke to John Crowl, an instructor and devotee of traditional Chinese medicine at El Monte Sagrado.

FoodFit   Can tai chi and qigong enhance cardiovascular and muscular fitness, as well as mental fitness and stress reduction?



Absolutely. Tai chi and qigong enhance all of these. Meditative practice of any kind reduces stress across the board. The exceptional added benefits of tai chi and qigong practice are its basis in physical movement. These exercises are performed actively with the intention of being perceptive, healthy and balanced.

The beautiful, graceful nature of the movements calms the heart fire of emotional distress; centers and frees the mind of distractions and obsessions; strengthens external muscles, tendons and ligaments; massages and strengthens internal organs; and increases flexibility and range of motion. The multitude of breath work exercises strengthen respiratory muscles, oxygenate maximally the blood and cell tissues and increase blood flow and red and white blood cell production in the marrow of the bones. They also deepen and lengthen the breath, re-centering it in the belly (neonatal breathing) and controlling its cycle through the body.

FoodFit   Tai chi's beginnings and theory are rooted in a culture that is very different from our own. What inspired you to practice and study tai chi? What difference has it made in your own life?



Tai chi and qigong have had a profound effect on my life. I have been involved in the study of the martial arts since a young age. After a life-changing personal event in my late twenties, I discovered I had no spiritual basis for my life. I knew of tai chi and sought out a master who was living in Taos at that time. He instructed me in qigong and its universal benefits and history. Needless to say, I was hooked.

I began practicing daily, soaking up the practice. However, several years later I got sick from a combination of poor health habits and working with chemicals. I suffered from a cross between chronic fatigue and environmental illness. I had to change my diet and work environment drastically. After that, I dove into my qigong and tai chi practice with renewed vigor and belief in its healing and revitalizing capabilities. I now have incredibly good health—rarely do I even get allergies, let alone a cold. Qigong and tai chi, along with other good self-care habits, have completely changed my life.

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