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Read part two of our interview with instructor John Crowl.

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Holistic Healing: Tai Chi and Qigong, Part I

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   Tai chi and qigong don't seem to fit into any clear-cut categories, such as martial arts, exercise or meditation. How do you describe them? How are they related to one another, and in what ways are they different?



Tai chi and qigong encompass the physical and energetic body work of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). These profound practices do not fall into a specific category because they transcend individual categories. Tai chi and qigong exercises include increasing flexibility and muscle and strengthening tendons and ligaments, as well as acupressure and internal organ massage. The aim is to draw energy from the universe into the body and refine it, thereby increasing one's vitality and presence. This increase of vitality and energy radiates from the individual.

Tai chi and qigong are moving meditation in that the mind is present in the moment, with thoughts passing through the mind like clouds. Qigong, literally translated as "cultivation of the vital life essence" and pronounced "chee gong," is over 2000 years old and gave birth to the martial arts of China. Tai chi, translated as "grand ultimate," is a combination of qigong movements strung together and performed at three times the speed of qigong, with a more martial sense of enemy. Tai chi is more closely related to qigong than other martial styles today because of its focus on energy cultivation, meditation and low-impact exercise. The faster a martial set, the more qi is expressed rather than accumulated.

FoodFit   These practices embrace a holistic approach to health. What are the principles behind this?



The principles behind tai chi and qigong's holistic health approach are many. A basic medicinal approach difference between Western and Eastern practices and beliefs is that Western doctors attempt to fix existing problems while Eastern doctors take a more preventative approach. Doctors of TCM take a holistic look at physical ailments, diet, mental and emotional health, work and more, and then prescribe accordingly to bring the individual to a clearer and more balanced state.

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