What do yoga, tai chi and qi gong all have in common? They are all ancient mind-body healing practices and postures that have been used for thousands of years.
Most modern-day workouts, especially extreme forms of exercise that may stress the body and mind over a long period of time, drain the body from the physical exertion. Yoga, tai chi and qi gong do the opposite – they have the power to produce more energy so the body feels more invigorated with more strength, flexibility, conditioning and endurance.
These ancient healing arts also have the power to improve cognitive, emotional, mental and spiritual health. The special breathing techniques, focused attention, stretching, unique postures and meditation practices improve brain fog, focus, attention and memory, and generate an overwhelming sense of calmness.
The key factor with these ancient mind-body exercises is that they not only improve physical health but also cognitive health. All three practices provide an experience of an overall sense of renewal on every level.
Yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong and Kids
Even though kids seem so much smarter today because of technology, their bodies are more unhealthy, they live with so many more toxins, and they have so many more demands and options placed upon them which ultimately creates so much more anxiety with just daily living. Recent research shows an emerging connection between the mind/body practice and:
- Stress reduction
- Improved coping skills
- Less overweight, obesity and other immune related diseases
- Reduced negative behaviors
- More instilled confidence
- Improved focus and concentration
- Better holistic integration of mind/body/spirit
What our kids need is healthy levels of interactive play and a solid connection to nature – what better than yoga, tai chi or qi gong – out on the grass under the sky!
Getting Children to Feel the Chi
One of the most important concepts to understand about yoga tai chi and qi gong is qi or chi energy. Qi is the life force or vital energy that flows through all things in the universe. Having your child hold out their palms and feel the heat/chi/energy without touching is a good initial exercise.
Children always have a lot to say about nature and animals, and this is a good way for them to understand how qi energy works. Yoga, tai chi and qi gong have traditional movements that mimic animals, birds and nature. For example:
- Flying wild geese is a traditional qi gong movement mimicking the slow motion flapping of wings to increase deep inhalation and open up a path of least resistance through the arms and entire body
- Snake creeps down is a traditional yang-style tai chi posture that focuses on power and fluidity in movement
- Mountain pose in yoga centers on stretching towards the sky helping to improve breathing and feeling strength from the ground
- Peaceful warrior is another yoga pose that establishes honor, strength and non-violence by a variety of poses with many variations
- Tree pose is a great yoga pose to quiet focus and teach children how to keep their eyes focused on one point
- Diamond/butterfly pose is another yoga pose with a great stretch and improved deep breathing techniques
Why Do Children Love Yoga, Tai Chi and Qi Gong?
Children love stretching and using their imaginations, so having them do the exercises, postures and poses of yoga, tai chi and qi gong is lots of fun. They will experience multi-dimensional mind/body aspects of qi energy that is found in these creative ancient healing practices and gain many benefits.
Besides being so much fun for children, it is also a way to have children calm down, feel grounded to mother earth, follow directions better, learn to focus more and find their bodies in time and space. Many children with chronic health and developmental conditions respond well to gentle and restorative yoga practices as well as qi gong massages.
These seem to make significant improvement in their lives in such areas as sensory, self-regulation disturbances, mood and behaviors, and fear and anxiety. Check out listings in your area for yoga, tai chi and qi gong for children.
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