The Complete Idiot's Guide to T'ai Chi and QiGong

( 15 )

Overview

You're no idiot, of course. You know that T'ai Chi is an ancient Chinese practice that is known to lower stress, reduce the risk of heart conditions, and alleviate chronic health problems. But when it comes to signing up for a T'ai Chi or QiGong class, you get such cold feet you decide to head for your couch and eat Chinese takeout. Don't wear out your cushions yet! The complete Idiot's Guide to T'ai Chi & QiGong gives you step-by-step ways to incorporate a T'ai Chi program ...

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Overview

You're no idiot, of course. You know that T'ai Chi is an ancient Chinese practice that is known to lower stress, reduce the risk of heart conditions, and alleviate chronic health problems. But when it comes to signing up for a T'ai Chi or QiGong class, you get such cold feet you decide to head for your couch and eat Chinese takeout. Don't wear out your cushions yet! The complete Idiot's Guide to T'ai Chi & QiGong gives you step-by-step ways to incorporate a T'ai Chi program into your life at home and at work.

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Editorial Reviews

The Examiner
"Bill Douglas's plan is simple -- to CHANGE THE WORLD!"
The Sun
"A World Leader"
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780028629094
  • Publisher: Alpha Books
  • Publication date: 1/20/1999
  • Series: Complete Idiot's Guide Series
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 7.38 (w) x 9.06 (h) x 0.95 (d)

Meet the Author

Bill Douglas has taught T'ai Chi and qiGong at colleges, medical universities, and many of the world's largest corporations. He has studied T'ai Chi and QiGong for nearly twenty years in the U.S. and Hong Kong, and has studied Traditional Chinese Medicine through Tokyo, Japan's Waseda Acupuncture College. Bill has produced several audio and videotapes. His Web site is www.taichismart.com.
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Table of Contents

Part 1 T'ai Chi: Relax into It 1
1 Why Practice T'ai Chi? 3
2 Let's Get Physical 11
3 Medical T'ai Chi: The Prescription for the Future 21
4 Expand the Mind and Lighten the Heart 33
5 Find Your Center 43
Part 2 Suiting Up and Setting Out 51
6 Know What You Want: Finding the Right Class 53
7 Plan Ahead: Where and When to Practice T'ai Chi 59
8 Be Prepared: Your First Day of Class 67
9 Saddle Up: Horse Stance and Other Terms 77
Part 3 Starting Down the QiGong Path to T'ai Chi 87
10 Introducing QiGong 89
11 Sitting QiGong (Jing Gong) 97
12 Moving QiGong (Dong Gong) 107
13 Warm-Up Exercises 119
Part 4 Kuang Ping T'ai Chi: Walk on Life's Lighter Side 133
14 Introducing the Kuang Ping Yang Style 135
15 Out in Style: Right Style, That Is 141
Part 5 T'ai Chi's Buffet of Short, Sword, and Fan Styles 213
16 Mulan Quan Basic Short Form 215
17 Mulan Quan Fan Style 223
18 Mulan Quan Sword Style 231
19 Getting Gently Pushy with Push Hands 237
Part 6 Life Applications 243
20 T'ai Chi as Therapy for Young and Old 245
21 "Tie"-Chi: Corporate T'ai Chi 259
22 T'ai Chi's Philosophy of Balance and Flow 265
23 Do T'ai Chi: Change the World 271
24 Celebrate World T'ai Chi and QiGong Day 279
Appendixes
A The T'ai Chi and QiGong Yellow Pages 285
B Suggested Readings 315
C Audio-Visual Resources 317
D Glossary 321
Index 325
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First Chapter

[Figures are not included in this sample chapter]

The Complete Idiot's Guide to T'ai Chi & QiGong

- 3 -

Medical T'ai Chi: The Prescription for the Future

In This Chapter

  • Unlocking your healing mind: The T'ai Key
  • T'ai Chi boosts the immune system
  • T'ai Chi slows aging!!!
  • T'ai Chi does an incredible balancing act!
  • What are energy meridians?
  • Acupuncture explains how T'ai Chi heals the mind, body, and emotions
  • T'ai Chi and the future of medicine

The doctor of the future will prescribe no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame...

--Thomas Alva Edison

T'ai Chi and QiGong's medical benefits have been studied for nearly 2,000 yearsin China and for only about 20 years in the West. However, Western medical researchis rapidly discovering what Chinese medicine has long realized, that T'ai Chi providesmore medical benefits than any other single exercise. That's why this ancient Chineseexercise is at the cutting edge of modern medical research.

This chapter will give you both an und erstanding of how Chinese medicine viewsour health and also the emerging Western scientific research that validates theseancient views. The bottom line is we are very lucky to live at a time when thesewonderful tools are available to us in the West. We are also lucky to be able tosee scientific proof that they work because as practitioners of Traditional ChineseMedicine understood centuries ago, our faith is the greatest healer. So, if we knowin our minds that T'ai Chi works, our bodies will allow it to do its magic, and wewill be the big winner.

We live in a stressful world; only recently has Western medical research cometo recognize that stress is at the root of most health problems. Therefore, the healthcrisis that stress is causing in the West has actually created a great opportunityfor us because it is opening us up to the wonders of Traditional Chinese Medicineand tools like T'ai Chi and QiGong. In fact, the list of T'ai Chi's measurable healthbenefits below indicates how this opening to T'ai Chi may save us from our healthcare crisis. T'ai Chi can:

  • Boost the immune system
  • Slow the aging process
  • Reduce anxiety, depression, and overall mood disturbance
  • Lower high blood pressure
  • Alleviate stress responses
  • Enhance the body's natural healing powers such as recovering from injury
  • Increase breathing capacity
  • Reduce asthma and allergy reactions
  • Improve balance and coordination TWICE as well as the best balance conditioning exercises in the world
  • Help to ensure full range mobility far into old age
  • Provide the lowest impact weight-bearing exe rcise known
The Chinese character for "crisis" is a combination of two other characters. One for "danger" and the other for "opportunity."

Ouch

Before adding T'ai Chi to your physical therapy program, consult your physician to see if T'ai Chi might affect your medication levels. For example, many with high blood pressure find their blood pressure lowers. Your physician should know if T'ai Chi can alter your current therapy for such conditions and then can lower your medication safely.


Mind Over Matter

T'ai Chi's artful beauty can make us forget that it is actually one of the mosthighly evolved health technologies on Earth. The Chinese realized that our mind orconsciousness is the root of who we are. Our health and our lives are merely reflectionsof our state of mind. Therefore, T'ai Chi's mindful quality incorporates the mindand body into a powerful healing force.

Interestingly, Western science now sees that Traditional Chinese Medicine's ancientinsights were right on the money. A new science called psychoneuroimmunologyhas found that our mind constantly communicates to every cell of our body.


T'ai Sci

Psychoneuroimmunology is a modern science studying how the mind's attitudes and beliefs affect our physical health. Psycho means mind, neuro means nervous system, and immunology means system of health defenses.


Emotional chemicals, known as neuropeptides, flow throughout our bodi es, communicatingevery feeling to the entire body. So, when hitting every red light on the streetaggravates us or we become anxious in every line we stand in, we walk around in astate of perpetual panic (or as Bruce Springsteen sang, "Yer life is one longemergency"). This negatively affects our heart, brain, and entire circulatorysystem. In fact, those effects in turn affect other organs, which can cause a breakdownof the entire system over time, causing, for example, kidney failure, heart enlargement,and hardening of the arteries.

But, don't fret, T'ai Chi helps us do just the opposite. We can decide to letissues slide right off us, literally breathing fears out with every sigh and yawn.As we sit in QiGong meditation or move in T'ai Chi's soothing postures, we let anourishing healing flow of Qi, or life energy, fill every cell of our bodies.


Sage Sifu Says

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) differs from the Western approach in that its focus is holistic. Holistic means it views the body as an integrated whole. A TCM doctor does not treat only symptoms, but rather tries to discover the root of health problems.
For example, if we have allergy problems, Western pharmaceuticals might send chemical missiles in to dry out the sinuses. This does stop the runny nose, but some medications may result in irritating the surrounding tissue by drying it out, or in other undesirable side effects. Acupuncture on the other hand, or T'ai Chi in the long run, will enable the body's natural balancing to occur, reducing the incidence of sinus problems in a way that nurtures the tissue. This is done by reestablishing the blocked flow of Qi that is at the root of the problem.


To fully appreciate T'ai Chi's medical benefits, it may be helpful to understandhow Traditional Chinese Medicine views the body.

Traditional Chinese Medicine has known for centuries what Western science is onlynow discovering: that our mind and body are two inseparable things. In TraditionalChinese Medicine, there is a joke that "the only place the mind, body, emotions,and spirit are separate is in textbooks." In real life and T'ai Chi, it justisn't so. T'ai Chi's slow mindful movements are the epitome of this union of mindand body.

So, when your body's muscles are rigid, your thinking will likely be more rigid,too. Likewise, if your thinking is harsh and rigid, this will in time be reflectedin stiffness in your muscular frame. This stiffness impedes the flow of Qi, whichdiminishes our health. Therefore, your mind and your thoughts have as much, or maybemore, to do with your health than the food you eat or the exercise you get.


Ouch

Don't try too hard to memorize any of these details on Traditional Chinese or Western medicine. Rather, let the concepts wash over your relaxed mind. The important stuff will stick, and you can always go back to look up details later.


Energy meridians link all the organs and the entire physical body to the mindand emotional systems. This explains how T'ai Chi and QiGong's mind/body exercisesintegrate all aspects of the self into a powerful self-healing system.

What Are Energy Meridians?

What are these energy meridians that T'ai Chi helps to unblock? By now you knowthat Qi flows through and powers every cell in your body, the way electricity powersyour house. Without Qi, the cell would be dead, for Qi is the life force. The meridiansare how Qi gets to the cells. You can't see these meridians; you can only detectthe energy that moves through them, just as you cannot see an ocean current in thewater, but you can detect its motion.


Know Your Chinese

The energy meridians are known as jing luo. Jing literally means "to move through," and luo means "a net." So energy meridians are a network of channels.


There are ancient maps of these meridians, made thousands of years ago by TraditionalChinese doctors. These acupuncture meridian maps show 14 main energy meridians thatcarry Qi throughout the body internally and externally. The names follow, listedfirst by the modern acupuncture abbreviation, then by the English name, and a fewfollowed by the Chinese name in italics.

  • CV = Conception Vessel or Ren Mai
  • CX = Pericardium Channel
  • GB = Gallbladder Channel
  • GV = Governing Vessel or Du Mai
  • HE = Heart Channel
  • KI = Kidney Channel
  • LI = Large Intestine
  • LU = Lung Channel
  • LV = Liver Channel
  • SI = Small Intestine Channel
  • SP = Spleen-Pancreas Channel
  • ST = Stomach Channel
  • TW = Triple Warmer or San Jiao Channel
  • UB = Urinary Bladder Channel

<<B>A T'ai Chi Punch Line

There are also acupuncture maps for animals. In fact, some racing horses have their own personal acupuncturists. Many veterinarians are beginning to use acupuncture as part of their practice.


Acupuncture and T'ai Chi

There are three aspects of Traditional Chinese Medicine: acupuncture, herbal medicine,and T'ai Chi/QiGong. All three share a common premise that Qi pours through the body,and our health is diminished when the energy flow gets blocked.

So, whether an acupuncturist is treating you with needles, an herbalist is prescribingherbs, or you are practicing T'ai Chi, you are trying to balance the imbalances,or unblock the energy that flows throughout your body. Millions of Americans arenow using alternative therapies like acupuncture and herbs. If you practice T'aiChi daily, your relaxed state will help herbs or acupuncture work even more effectively.

The energy meridians, which flow throughout the interior of the body, have 361points that surface at the skin, and these are the most common treatment points acupuncturistsuse. But the whole body and even the mind can be treated with acupuncture becausethese meridians that surface at the skin also flow inside the body, through the brainand organs.


T'ai Sci

Modern acupuncturists often call the Qi meridians bioenergetic circuits.


T'ai Chi and QiGong affect the same energy flow that acupuncture does, althoughacupuncture can be better for acute problems, whereas T'ai Chi is a daily tune-up.Therefore, acupuncturists often recommend T'ai Chi to their patients, a nd T'ai Chiteachers recommend acupuncture to students with chronic or acute conditions, as asupplement to the students' standard medical treatments. T'ai Chi and acupunctureare very complimentary, and each makes the other more effective.

An example of an acupuncture meridian map. This also comes in a three-dimensional model.

Say, "OOOOHHHHHMMMMMM"--OHM Meter That Is

It is mind boggling when you consider that many modern acupuncturists find acupuncturepoints with electronic equipment, not unlike an Ohmmeter. What's amazing is thatacupuncture maps were made long before electronics was developed, some believe over2,000 years ago.

How did they know where those points were back then? They may have felt them.As you practice T'ai Chi and QiGong, you will eventually begin to feel the Qi flowingfrom your hands or in your body.

T'ai Chi Is Footloose and Healthfully

Acupuncture sees the body holistically, meaning that each small part of the bodycontains connections to the whole body. Therefore, an acupuncturist can treat anyproblem in the whole body through, for example, the ears. Likewise, any part of thebody, or even the mind, can be treated through the hands or the feet.

One of the powerful health benefits T'ai Chi provides is a daily acupuncture tune-up.Because T'ai Chi is so slow and the weight shifts so deliberate, with the body veryrelaxed, the feet are massaged by the earth during a T'ai Chi exercise. The bottomsof the feet have acupuncture points that affect the entire body, and yes the mind,too. Acupressure is acupuncture without the needles. So the foot massage is a 20-minuteT'ai Chi session that sti mulates all the acupuncture points on the foot through acupressure,thereby treating the whole body. No other exercise provides this type of slow, relaxedmotion, making T'ai Chi unique in providing you an acupuncture tune-up each timeyou do your daily exercise.

Don't Be Zang Fu-lish

Another profound benefit T'ai Chi provides is a gentle massaging of the internalorgans. Because T'ai Chi moves the body in about 95 percent of the possible motionsit can go through, it not only clears the joints of calcium deposits, but it alsogently massages the internal organs.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), this is a powerful therapy for optimumhealth. TCM recognizes that the body is an integrated whole whereby all the partsare connected by the flow of Qi. In fact, the Chinese system of medicine is builtupon a Zang Fu graph, which shows how organs interact with and depend on one anotherfor good healthy function.

Therefore, because T'ai Chi massages all the organs through its gentle full rotations,it helps to balance all the integrating activities of the Zang Fu systems.


Know Your Chinese

Zang-Fu literally translated means "solid-hollow." Organs within the body considered to be hollow, like the stomach or large intestines, are Fu organs. While the solid organs, such as liver and lung, are Zang organs.



A T'ai Chi Punch Line

The Zang Fu system uses a memory model, applying each organ to one of the five elements of the Earth. The Chinese see the world as made of Earth, Metal, Water, Wood, and Fire. See the Zang Fu chart fo r which organs go with which element.


The energy flow affects different organs through the Sheng Cycle and the Ko cycle. This shows how organs are interactive and interdependent on one another for healthful function.

T'ai Chi and QiGong Benefit Emotions

Acupuncture, herbal medicine, and T'ai Chi/QiGong use the Zang Fu system to understandhow the body, mind, and emotions integrate. A problem with a particular organ mayhave emotional symptoms. Likewise, a chronic emotional state may have a physicalimpact on the organs. The following chart illustrates the Zang Fu connection betweenorgans and emotions commonly related to imbalances with those organs or their energychannels.

  • Liver = Depression, anger
  • Heart = Excess joy (such as manic behavior), excess mental function
  • Spleen = Obsession
  • Lung = Anguish, grief, melancholy
  • Kidney = Fear, fright

Sage Sifu Says

If you go to a Traditional Chinese Physician, he or she may likely ask you about your emotions as well as your physical symptoms because emotional states may help lead them to understand which organ's energy is deficient or in excess.


So, T'ai Chi benefits the mental and emotional states, not only by encouragingus to let go of the day's problems by focusing on breath and movement, but in otherways as well. T'ai Chi stimulates the organs with gentle massage, while stimulatingthe acupressure points on the feet and throughout the body, with its gentle relaxedpostures. The breathing in T'ai Chi is full, yet effo rtless, encouraging internalreleases of mental and emotional blocks that also help the internal Zang Fu systemsbecome less restricted, more free flowing, and healthful on mental, emotional, andphysical levels. Chapter 4 will explain how T'ai Chi and QiGong can provide mentaland emotional healing.

T'ai Chi and QiGong Increase Flexibility

T'ai Chi not only increases flexibility by regularly stretching the muscles verygently, but through the Zang Fu system as well. As we age, especially but not exclusivelymen, we often find a depletion in our kidney energy. The kidney energy is responsiblefor the function of the liquid systems of the body. Therefore, the decrease in kidneyenergy that accompanies aging causes our connective tissue, such as tendons, to becomebrittle. We are then much more likely to tear, or otherwise injure, our bones orjoints when we stumble or fall.

So, the tremendous balance improvements T'ai Chi offers are only part of why T'aiChi practitioners are much less likely than other people to suffer falling injuries.The improved performance of all organ functions enhances the entire physical body'shealth. In fact, in this way, sitting QiGong may also increase flexibility, eventhough it is a nonphysical exercise.


A T'ai Chi Punch Line

Traditional Chinese Medicine sees the body and mind intertwined. So, a rigid body can cause us to think rigidly as well. Or perhaps more accurately a rigid mind can cause us to have a rigid body.


Western Medicine's Research on T'ai Chi and QiGong

After reading this section you should be satisfied beyond a doubt that T 'aiChi works. So when you get to the QiGong and T'ai Chi exercises later in Parts3, 4, and 5, you won't have to think about their benefits. The mind is the greatesthealer. Therefore, if you believe in the value of your therapy, it will be much moreeffective for you.

Stress Is the Symptom

By now you know that stress is the chief cause of illness in the modern world.As Western medicine discovers that T'ai Chi and QiGong are effective stress-reducingexercises, these powerful mind/body health tools are being used in more and morehospitals and are prescribed by more and more doctors.

Studies show that reaction to stress can damage the entire body. It causes chronichypertension (high blood pressure), which can cause the arteries to harden, kidneydamage, and enlargement of the heart. Stress also has been shown to impair our abilityto think and actually shrinks the hypothalamus and the hypocampus parts of the brain.Yikes!!

Who Ya Gonna Call?

T'ai Chi is the stress buster. An article in Occupational Therapy Weekexplains that T'ai Chi's emphasis on posture and diaphragmatic breathing (breathingfrom your diaphragm) accounts for a practitioner's reduction in muscular tensionand the stress it causes. Patients using T'ai Chi report a greater ability to copewith fear and anxiety, as that physical relaxation is reflected in their mental attitude.

Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital in New York City provided T'ai Chi to both staffand patients. Their Activity Therapy Supervisor said, "T'ai Chi is a naturaland safe vehicle to neutralize rather than resist the stress in our personallives, an ability which we greatly need to nurture in our mode rn fast-paced society."

T'ai Chi Is Your Heart's Best Friend

Harvard Medical School's Women's Health Watch Journal reported that, "T'aiChi has salubrious effects," and that "practicing T'ai Chi regularlymay delay the decline of cardiopulmonary function in older adults...T'ai Chi wasfound to be as effective as meditation in reducing stress hormones."

A Duke University study recently announced that managing stress controls heartdisease even more effectively than exercise. Since T'ai Chi provides both powerfulstress management and gentle exercise, T'ai Chi is your heart's very best friend.Now, go out and play nice with your new friend.


Sage Sifu Says

With all these T'ai Chi and QiGong facts swimming through your mind, now is a good time to practice QiGong's mind clearing tools. Take a deep breath from your abdomen to your chest, and on the sighing exhale, let your shoulders relax away from your neck as they sink towards the floor. Repeat this several times, and as you release the breath, imagine that every cell in your body is relaxing as you release each breath. Now as you let go of the breath, let all your cranial muscles release their grip on your skull, and as you let go, allow your mind to release all the facts and figures it is trying to remember.
Ironically, you will find that the more your mind lets go of trying to hold onto facts, the more easily it can absorb information.


T'ai Chi Reduces Mental Stress

A study cited in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research claimed T'ai C histudy subjects reported less tension, depression, anger, fatigue, confusion, andanxiety; they felt more vigorous and, in general, had less total mood disturbance.

The Journal of Black Psychology states that many African-Americans sufferfrom chronic high blood pressure. The article explains that hypertension is a physicalresult of psychological stress. The article proposes T'ai Chi as a holistic way fortreating psychosomatic illnesses, or those illnesses caused by stress.

T'ai Chi may also help us think better. Research has shown that stress can limitthe development of the hypocampus, the part of the brain that deals with learningand memory. So, T'ai Chi's ability to reduce stress responses may actually enhanceour ability to learn and remember.

T'ai Chi Lowers Body Stress

Working Woman magazine's article on T'ai Chi said, "increasingly mind/bodyworkouts are replacing high-impact aerobics, and other body punishing exercises ofthe 1980s. These mind/body workouts are kinder to the joints and muscles and canreduce the tension that often contributes to the development of disease, which makesthem especially appropriate for high-powered, stressed-out baby boomers."


A T'ai Chi Punch Line

I was once studying T'ai Chi and QiGong in Hong Kong. Because of the time difference, I was waking up at 3 am. With nothing else to do, I became a particularly diligent student and practiced Gathering Qi or Standing Post for nearly an hour and a half each morning. After about a week of this, I began to visually see the Qi flowing around people. Especially their heads. I noticed that those who seemed to be enjoying the day had large pluming expanses of energy around them, while those appearing driven and stressed had tiny restricted energy emanating from them.


T'ai Chi Boosts Your Immune System

Prevention magazine reported a study on T'ai Chi's effects on the immunesystem. They found that regular practice of T'ai Chi may increase the body's productionof T-Cells. These T-Cells are T-lymphocytes. "Lympho-whats???" you mightask. It doesn't matter. What matters is that these little T-Cells help the immunesystem destroy bacteria and possibly even tumor cells. If T'ai Chi can make moreof these little buggers, what are we waiting for. Let's T'ai Chi one on!


Know Your Chinese

T'ai Chi and QiGong have long been known to boost the immune system. Ancient Chinese medicine understood the concept of the immune system, which the Chinese called bu qi, bu xue, meaning tonify the Qi and blood. When Qi and blood are strengthened, we are better able to fight off infection and disease.


Cancer, QiGong, and Our Immune System

In China, QiGong is commonly prescribed as an adjunct to chemotherapy and radiation.Studies indicate that when QiGong is combined with standard cancer treatments, favorableresults are obtained, treating virtually all forms and stages of cancer. Part ofthe reason for this success is that QiGong helps patients feel less helpless. Studiesshow that feelings of self-empowerment can have powerful healing benefits on thecourse of almost any disease, including cancer.

Ho w Does T'ai Chi Fight for the Immune System?

American QiGong master Ken Cohen has dubbed a hormone called DHEA the Health Hormone.In his book, Qigong: The Art and Science of Chinese Energy Healing, Mr. Cohenexplains that this hormone is believed to be linked to Qi.

DHEA is short for dehydroepiandrosterone. Yeah, I know, forget-about-it.But don't forget that DHEA is related to youthfulness, less disease, and amore functional immune system.

According to Mr. Cohen, low DHEA levels have been directly linked to cancer, diabetes,obesity, hypertension, allergies, heart disease, and most autoimmune diseases.

When we are under a lot of stress, our body exhausts itself of this importanthormone. Therefore, by practicing T'ai Chi, we can increase DHEA levels, therebyincreasing our immune systems ability to fight whatever steps in the ring with it.Let's RUMBLE!!

T'ai Chi does two wonderful things to help us age healthfully:

  • It maximizes the body's full potential to regenerate healthy cells, which actually slows the aging process.
  • It promotes a deep self-acceptance and self-awareness, so that as our body goes through the challenges of aging, we are much better able to handle and adjust to those changes, both physically and emotionally.

DHEA and T'ai Chi, Back Together Again

DHEA, short for dehydroepiandrosterone, is also involved in the aging process.This hormone's levels tend to decline with age, but the decline is much worse whenunder chronic stress. Add natural aging and chronic stress, and you have an expresstrain to an old body. However, our old friend T'ai Chi once again comes to the r escue.T'ai Chi's gentle movements and breathing techniques promote the serenity that cankeep DHEA from being depleted.

Of course, the increased circulation of blood and Qi also fully oxygenate theskin, which provides nourishment to our outer beauty. The Zang Fu system's beingbalanced by T'ai Chi's stimulation of acupressure points and massage of the internalorgans also moves the liquids and oils of the body to the tissue that needs them,further adding to our external beauty and internal health.

Aging's Radical, Dude! (Free Radicals, That Is)

There is a pesky little free radical atom in your body called "superoxide" that causes the body to age. Not only does it cause wrinkles and agespots, but can also weaken cartilage and joints. In fact, this super oxide may eveninduce cancer or other immune system disorders. Obnoxious little things aren'tthey?

However, regular T'ai Chi and QiGong practice can protect your body from thesepesky free radicals by activating an enzyme called superoxide dismutase (orSOD). SOD is our cellular superman and defends our cells from the ornery super oxidesthat break down our health systems.

A study of those who practiced QiGong for a half-hour a day for one year showedthat their levels of SOD increased dramatically compared to people not doing QiGong.Another study showed a large increase in SOD after only two months of QiGong practice.


Know Your Chinese

Fan lao huan tong means "reverse old age and return to youthfulness." This is what the Chinese believe T'ai Chi and QiGong offer, and of course Western scientif ic methods are beginning to tell us how and why that happens. East meets West.



T'ai Sci

Free radicals are atoms with an extra electron that bounce around wreaking havoc throughout the body. We see this with our eyes as aging. The calming effects of T'ai Chi and QiGong not only affect the mind, but can also reduce the damage done by free radicals, thereby slowing the aging process.


Make No Bones About It, T'ai Chi Does Your Body Good

The National Institute of Mental Health released a study showing that women underchronic stress with depression had weaker bones than those in normal emotional states.In fact, the stressed/depressed women had the bones of 70-year-old women, even thoughthey were only 40 years old.

T'ai Chi lessens the incidence of depression and the body's stress responses,and is a gentle weight bearing exercise. These abilities may make T'ai Chi the bestthing you can do to keep your bones healthy, even into old age.

T'ai Chi Does an Incredible Balancing Act!

For aging Americans, the simple act of stumbling and falling can often be fatal.The sixth largest cause of death for older Americans is complications from fallinginjuries. This costs our country about $10 billion a year and causes tremendous sufferingfor older people. We are all paying for our nation's poor balance in human sufferingand in higher healthcare and health insurance costs.

T'ai Chi was part of a balance study by Harvard, Yale, the Center for DiseaseControl, Washington University School of Medicine, and Emory University. T'ai Chipractitioners fell and injured themselves only half as much as those practicing otherbalance training. This is an amazing finding that can change the lives of older Americans.

Although many of us are not in the age group that is likely to suffer seriousinjury from falling, we can all benefit greatly by having better balance. Betterbalance puts much less stress on the body throughout the workday, and you will findthat you have much more energy as T'ai Chi practice improves your balance.


T'ai Sci

In a university study on balance, researchers were testing a rather expensive computer model designed to improve people's balance. The researchers were stunned to find that a simple inexpensive exercise called T'ai Chi was in some ways nearly twice as effective as the expensive computer model.


T'ai Chi Is Dirt Cheap and Can Be Done on Grass, Too

Compared to the best balance training in the world, T'ai Chi is about twice aseffective. Some of the other balance exercises studied in the Ivy League study onbalance were very expensive computer models that required participants to go intoa lab and practice. The simple exercises of T'ai Chi are therefore not only muchmore effective than the other exercises, but they are very cheap.

You don't have to get a gym membership or an expensive physical trainer, or anyfancy clothes or equipment. All you need are these terrific toys called your mindand your body. Now, go play!

T'ai Chi's Gentle to Arthritis and Your Joints

T'ai Chi is an exercise few doctors will ever tell patients to stop practicing.It provides perhaps the lowest impact weight-bearing exerc ise there is. We all needweight-bearing exercise to help build bone mass and connective tissue, but for thosewith rheumatoid arthritis or some other conditions weight-bearing exercise is a problem.For these people, weight-bearing exercise can aggravate joints, causing tendernessor swelling.

However, a study cited in the American Journal of Physical Medicine andRehabilitation wanted to see if T'ai Chi would harm rheumatoid arthritis patients.To their pleasant surprise, T'ai Chi did no damage whatsoever and provided them withthe safe weight-bearing exercise they seriously needed. The forms were modified forthese patients, and everyone with arthritis or knee problems should be sure theyonly do forms that feel good to them. But this T'ai Chi discovery is good news forall of us because it gives us all a weight-bearing exercise that is safe even intoold age.

T'ai Chi: the Health Care of the Future

Most Chinese hospitals have long integrated Western crisis medicine with TraditionalChinese Medicine. This is now rapidly happening in the United States as well. TheAmerican Medical Association recently recognized acupuncture as a valid treatment,which is causing Western doctors to look at T'ai Chi and QiGong even more intently.

Growing numbers of neurologists, cardiologists, general practitioners, physicaltherapists, hypertension specialists, and psychologists are already prescribing T'aiChi and/or QiGong as treatment, or as supplemental treatment, for many conditions.In Part 6 you will find T'ai Chi prescribed for specific conditions.

As more Western scientific research is completed on the benefits of T'ai Chi andQiGong, this trend will expand, and we all will benefit greatly by lower health carecosts.


A T'ai Chi Punch Line

Studies have shown that if patients "believe" that something can cure them, the possibility that it will is much higher. Cynicism is found to be one of the single most hazardous behaviors for our health. I always tell students, "If I have a choice between being smart enough to realize I'm incurable, or stupid enough to fool myself into curing myself--I'll be the fool any day."


T'ai Chi & QiGong's Healing Powers

When you first hear of the benefits of T'ai Chi and QiGong, it may sound likesnake oil. This is because it is effective for helping to treat all things on alllevels. "How can it do that?" you may ask. It does this by connecting usto the most powerful healing tool there is--the healing power of the mind. It isthe power of the mind that is at the heart of our healing.

It is estimated that placebos can positively treat about 60 percent of our healthproblems. Placebos are sugar pills (or fake treatments) doctors sometimes give tofool patients into curing themselves. This gets the mind/body to trigger its owninternal healing processes, by the mind simply telling itself it's OK for the bodyto heal. This indicates that the body has a tremendous potential to SELF HEAL, ifwe believe in the cure.

T'ai Chi and QiGong are not placebos. They are powerful health tools that cangive us access to the tremendous natural healing power of the body, the power behindthe placebo. Many of these healing benefits are documented, and new research is emergingall the time. I t's important for you to understand just how powerful these toolsare so that your mind will allow them to do their magic.

The Least You need to Know

  • T'ai Chi facilitates the flow of Qi and health to your cells.
  • Narrow thinking squeezes off life energy.
  • T'ai Chi integrates the mind, body, and emotions.
  • By toning our Qi, we tone all our healing systems.
  • Only T'ai Chi provides an acupressure treatment and organ massage, while promoting circulation and centeredness.
  • You don't have to memorize how it works, just relax and do it.
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 15 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 15 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2002

    Although this book is rated 'excellent' by top experts, try the 2nd Edition, even better!!

    Although this book was rated 'excellent' by top experts in tai chi & qigong, the new 2nd edition has 204 ILLUSTRATIVE SKETCHES TO HELP YOU LEARN THE LONG FORM OF TAI CHI. Do a search for the 2nd edition, much more powerful than even this edition was. Also, the complimentary DVD or 3 volume video program 'T'ai Chi & Qigong: The Prescription for the Future' is a powerful addition to the very detailed book instruction of the 2nd edition.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2001

    Excellent Guide to Learning T'ai Chi

    I love your book 'The Complete Idiot's Guide to T'ai Chi & QiGong.' It's one of the best books I've ever read to help introduce people to the benefits of T'ai Chi and QiGong. I recommend it to all my students.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2001

    My Video & DVD Program is now available thru BN.com!!

    My ground breaking Tai Chi & Qigong instructional DVD and VHS video program is now available through BN.com. Search 'Tai Chi & Qigong: The Prescription for the Future' under videos or dvd. This fun, effective, and very user friendly instructional program is based on the same immediately useful and enjoyable approach as my best selling book, The Complete Idiot's Guide to T'ai Chi & Qigong. This program has helped people all over the world find dramatically improved health, mental, physical, and emotional. A Qigong teacher from San Francisco's Beyond Anonymous wrote of my program: 'Douglas has done for Qigong what Apple did for the computer -- he's brought it to the people.' US Tai Chi Forms Grand Champion Sifu Hong Yijiao wrote: 'Sifu Douglas takes the best parts of Tai Chi and explains them simply using American culture, not requiring the reader have a grounding in Chinese culture or history.' My life long goal is to share the magic of Tai Chi and Qigong with as much of the world as I can. My series is sold worldwide, and I get powerful testimonials that leave me convinced that this series can be of benefit to anyone and everyone. I've taught Tai Chi & Qigong for many of the world's largest corporations, university medical schools, health networks, and even prisons. My program is effective, enjoyable, and accessible to most anyone who wants to change their life. Team USA Coach Michael Steward wrote of my book, 'All you ever needed to learn to change your life.'

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2001

    Complete Idiot's Guide to T'ai Chi and QiGong

    If you want a stuffy, rigid, arrogant approach to Tai Chi & Qigong, you won't enjoy this book. HOWEVER, if you want to have some fun, while assimilating huge amounts of information on both Tai chi & Qigong, then you will enjoy this book. The light hearted approach is the very essence of Tai Chi & Qigong. It encourages you to 'relax' into the learning, rather than making Tai Chi or Qigong, yet another 'hard' thing to study or endure in life. It may change your life, if you will breathe and relax into the inspirational messages it imparts.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2001

    Complete Idiot's Guide to T'ai Chi and QiGong

    A beginner's view from the bottom of the mountain I began T'ai Chi with the hope it would calm my Type A personality or, better yet, a way to deal with the daily stress in my life. Of course, being a Type A personality, my patience level with not 'knowing it all immediately' was very short. The book helped me to understand not only the underlying basis of T'ai Chi but also to accept that what I knew and how I executed the moves was perfect for my place in time. Through that understanding, I now look forward to simply moving through the form to a peacefulness I've never known before. I would recommend the book for people like me who have a need to 'know' before you really understand.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2000

    This Book Requires a Certain Personality to Read

    The first part of this book is filled with incessant and repetitive cheerleading - nice if you need it or like that sort of thing; otherwise irritating. This book is really not a good source of general info on QiGong; QiGong is presented as though it is only an adjunct to T'ai Chi rather than an overarching practice. The 'sound bite' style is nice for folks who don't like long passages of text. Great warm-ups, great info on applying T'ai Chi to various life circumstances: seniors, kids, handicaps, and so on. Marvelous explanations of movements. Very Western viewpoint, which some may find easier to relate to. Fantastic info on taking T'ai Chi classes for those who've been too afraid to do so. Unfortunately, this book has enough errors and misspellings, etc. in it that it comes across as very sloppy, and makes me wonder what errors I didn't catch in all of Mr. Douglas' T'ai Chi facts. All in all, a good T'ai Chi book, but not for everyone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2000

    Not Only for Beginners, But a Great Reference for Teachers

    A Tai Chi teacher emailed about this book and said he'd read it 4 times and still found information that was beneficial to his practice and teaching. This book explains the background of the art/sciences of T'ai Chi & Qigong, so that when you arrive at the actual exercises your mind and body are prepared to truly 'relax open' to the benefits they offer. Unlike many Tai Chi books, this one doesn't expect you to learn Chinese culture or history, before allowing you to get the benefits. It explains the power of these amazing Chinese gifts to the world in a very practical and meaningful way to our daily lives. However, for those who truly want to understand the facinating depth of the Chinese sciences that helped create these health tools, this book offers a great deal of information. The book extolls all to look deeper into these fantastic health arts, to discover local classes, and to expand the use of these health tools in our work, health care, and for our kids in school as well. No matter what style of T'ai Chi you decide to learn, this book will be very useful and fun!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2000

    Comprehensive Explanation of the Wonders of Tai Chi and Qigong

    This book explains methodically and clearly how T'ai Chi & Qigong work, how to get the most from your practice, and how to incorporate these powerful health tools into a healthy lifestyle. It explains that to truly benefit from Traditional Chinese Medical TCM practices, which T'ai Chi & Qigong are, you must be able to 'believe' that they work. TCM understood what modern medicine is only now beginning to realize, that the mind powerfully affects the body. Therefore, this books fun, expansive, and wide ranging explanations of the tenants of T'ai Chi and Qigong are as important as the actual expercises it teaches, because the explanations and diagrams unlock mental doors so that when you get to the Sitting Qigong exercise your mind is open to fully experience the powerful benefits of that section. The Sitting Qigong Relaxation Therapy, in turn, opens doors to an 'internal' awareness of self, that is then incorporated into the actual T'ai Chi movements. Ultimately creating a powerful mind/body techniqe of internal observation and stress release that allows the practitioner to daily cleanse the accumulated stress or energy blocks that modern life leaves with us each day. As the book explains, there is no other exercise on earth that can enable you to lessen depression/anxiety, improve sleep, reduce or eliminate many chronic pain conditions, boost immune system responses, increase breathing capacity, reduce allergic/asthma symptomology, improve balance/coordination, and slow the aging process, all in one twenty minute daily routine. This book uniquely enables you to experience the excitement of discovery about medical research that validates the above claims, while actually taking you through exercises to begin to truly experience these benefits. The book is also very honest in its approach by saying that Tai Chi & Qigong are best learned in a class, using books like this as a supplement to expand class benefits. However, for those who cannot get to a class for some reason, a fully instructional 3 volume video set is referred, entitled 'T'ai Chi & Qigong: The Prescription for the Future.' As a package this book and the video set offer a formidable education tool, a very fun journey, and a health program that may change your life.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2000

    A beginner's view from the bottom of the mountain

    I began T'ai Chi with the hope it would calm my Type A personality or, better yet, a way to deal with the daily stress in my life. Of course, being a Type A personality, my patience level with not 'knowing it all immediately' was very short. The book helped me to understand not only the underlying basis of T'ai Chi but also to accept that what I knew and how I executed the moves was perfect for my place in time. Through that understanding, I now look forward to simply moving through the form to a peacefulness I've never known before. I would recommend the book for people like me who have a need to 'know' before you really understand.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2000

    The Book & Video Series Set is a Powerful Instructional Tool

    The Complete Idiot's Guide to T'ai Chi & Qigong is an in depth and extremely unique analysis, introduction, and motivation to make T'ai Chi & Qigong part of your life, at home, at work, and everywhere and anywhere you want to relax, energize, and grow mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. However, if you combine it with the 3 volume video set by the author, 'T'ai Chi & Qigong: The Prescription for the Future,' you will find a very literally unequaled T'ai Chi and Qigong program. As the Olympic Team USA Coach said in his review, 'it will change your life.'

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2000

    AN EXCELLANT COVERAGE. I agree with the Team USA Coach and the University of Texas T'ai Chi Teacher

    The reviewer below may have missed the most important message of the book, T'ai Chi is learned best in a live class, or if that's not possible with a video. Book's can only greatly enhance this process. Books can be great augments for your T'ai Chi progress, and in fact this book may be one of the best you will find. In fact, unlike many books this book doesn't 'pretend' that only a book can teach you T'ai Chi. Having said that though, this book is one of the most comprehensive coverages of the 'the best parts of T'ai Chi' as written by T'ai Chi Grand Master and United States T'ai Chi Forms Champion, Sifu Hong Yijiao. I agree with many of the very best T'ai Chi instructors in saying you'll find this book is truly a powerful addition to your T'ai Chi program, whether it is live or video.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2000

    Complete Idiot's Guide - Reader or Author?

    The book focuses mainly on the supposed benefits of T'ai Chi, and then attempts to give you, and I quote from the cover, 'Idiot-proof steps on performing the major poses'. Like so many things, it must only work right with true idiots, because one picture and poorly written instructions per step do not a T'ai Chi-ist make you. Of course, after the first twelve steps, even the poorly written instructions disappear, and you are left wondering why you bought this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2000

    For Beginning thru Advanced - and FOR TEACHERS TOO

    DON'T Let the Title Fool You . . . This book was written to be a primer for T'ai Chi and Qigong teachers of ALL styles. It provides in depth understanding of what these magnificent health sciences are and how they work (at least as far as we know so far, because science is discovering more benefits every day.) I am happy that T'ai Chi and Qigong teachers in Australia, Africa, Europe, America, and even in Asia are using it as a student primer. Also, many have kindly informed me of how helpful it has been to find 'new' western/scientific ways to explain these powerful ancient eastern tools. Sifu Hong Yijiao, US T'ai Chi forms grand champion wrote to me that she liked the book's 'western' approach, and that it explained all the best parts of T'ai Chi without requiring a grounding in Chinese culture or history. Also, teachers such as Michael Steward, Team USA Olympic Coach, have lauded the vision the book expands of how T'ai Chi and Qigong can be used at all levels of society to not only save a great deal of social costs but to elevate our social quality of life. Chinese teachers have requested it be translated into Chinese, because it may encourage more young Chinese to try T'ai Chi & Qigong. They explained that the Western/science approach of the book may dispell the misunderstanding that many young Chinese have that T'ai Chi & Qigong are a 'superstitious' thing that Grandpa does. My hope is that this book will help expand the use of T'ai Chi & Qigong throughout world society, through health care, education, and business. I have also founded a global health education event 'World T'ai Chi & Qigong Day' to promote ALL T'ai Chi & Qigong teachers and schools worldwide. I hope you enjoy the book. One great focus of the book, is that T'ai Chi & Qigong should be FUN :-) If we enjoy the process we will stick with it, and our lives will be changed forever for the better for having incorporated these wonderful health and life sciences into our busy modern lives. Bill Douglas, Founder of World T'ai Chi & Qigong Day, Author of 'The Complete Idiot's Guide to T'ai Chi & Qigong' (Macmillan Reference 1999), 'Ascent of Consciousness from the Modern Plague of Stress' (Humanics Publishing 2000), 'The Amateur Parent' (2000)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2000

    Join a Global Volunteer Healing Event!!

    I am the Founder of World T'ai Chi & Qigong Day, a global volunteer healing event unlike the world has ever seen, and I invite you to get involved. Tens of thousands of people around the world who have experienced the healing benefits of T'ai Chi and Qigong are coming together each year the Saturday following April 7th, UN World Health Day, to conduct mass T'ai Chi & Qigong exhibitions in public places to celebrate World T'ai Chi & Qigong Day. In 2000, it will fall on Saturday, April 8th, 10 am worldwide. You can get each years date and discover how YOU can get involved by going to www.worldtaichiday.org. With 70% of all illness due to stress, the 6 leading causes of death related to stress, and UNWHO warnings of a global epidemic of stress induced depression, T'ai Chi & Qigong are in many ways a prescription for the future. Research indicates Tai Chi & Qigong practice can alleviate the overwhelming majority of these health problems. IF WE USE THEM. World Tai Chi & Qigong Day is an effort to educate a world public desperately in need of these tools, that they exist, and are proven to be highly effective, very cheap, and extremely safe. Thanks for making world history with us.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 1999

    Videos NOW AVAILABLE by author of 'Complete Idiot's Guide to T'ai Chi & Qigong'!!! On various online bookstores!!

    VIDEOS now available from author of 'Complete Idiot's Guide to T'ai Chi & Qigong'. Available through various online bookstores!!! 'The Complete Idiot's Guide to T'ai Chi & Qigong' is now the BEST SELLING T'ai Chi book. Check it out and FIND OUT WHY? A GREAT TOOL FOR T'ai Chi and Qigong TEACHERS as well as students!! T'ai Chi teachers worldwide are referring students to it as a primer, and using it as a reference for research and simple clear ways to explain complex concepts, to enable EVERYONE to get the MOST out of the wonderful health and personal growth tools of T'ai Chi & Qigong.

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