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Trying Tai Chi & Qi Gong for the First Time

Posted May 04 2011 6:00am

Tai-Chi-Qi-Gong-Basics Sure, I dig yoga and meditation . And most would probably consider me to be a little crunchier or more hippity-dippity than your average gal. But despite these things, I had never tried the Chinese martial art Tai Chi—let alone Qi Gong. Heck, I could barely spell the former or pronounce the latter. But after spending about 40 minutes trying each of these martial arts in the new Acacia DVD Tai Chi & Qi Gong Basics (and learning how to properly say “chi gōng”), I have to say that I kind of wondered what the hold up has been.

Both martial arts are like yoga and Pilates in that they combine focus and controlled breathing with movement. In both types of exercise, you move slowly and deliberately,and you’re definitely not worrying about what craziness is left on your to-do list (or at least you shouldn’t be after a few minutes as it’s hella relaxing). Through a series of standing poses, you move gracefully, moving your energy or your “chi” with you. Sure, at times it seems hokey, but it’s also somewhat beautiful, and I can see how with regular practice, it could truly become your go-to happy place.

In this beginner DVD , martial-arts master Matthew Cohen gives you two programs: Tai Chi and Qi Gong. In Tai Chi, Cohen teaches you the basic poses, including form and intention. Then you begin to move through the postures a little more, eventually putting them all together for more of a “workout.” (More on that later.) The second program runs you through about a dozen Qi Gong postures (my favorite being the one where you bend forward moving your head back and forth like an elephant with a trunk), ending with seated meditation. While Tai Chi is taught in a somewhat boring studio, the Qi Gong section is taught outside in front of a beautiful mountain range. Seeing that alone helped me to zen. The DVD also features an interesting and informative Q&A with Cohen about the benefits and history of both programs.

Now this is a bit of an unusual review in that neither one of these programs are “workouts” by our usual definition. Sure, you’re moving, but you don’t get your heart rate up, there is really no focus on upper-body strength (both programs do include some lower-body squats and lunges, along with balance work), and I guarantee you won’t sweat unless your AC is out. Also, from the reviews on Amazon , it’s clear that this is the basic of the most basic DVDs, designed for people like me, who have never tried either Tai Chi or Qi Gong before. So definitely don’t buy this one thinking that it’ll help you fit in your skinny jeans. Instead, think of it more as an addition to your fitness or, better yet, your life.

FBG Rating (Out of 5):
Instruction: ★★★★
Long-Term Likeability: ★★
Music: ★★★
Fun Factor: ★★★
Meets Expectations: ★★★
Overall: ★★★

Fit Bottomed Line: If you’re interested in learning more about Tai Chi or Qi Gong but aren’t sure where to go or how to start, this DVD would be your get-started guide. Just don’t expect anything but a moving meditation mental workout (which is totally awesome, in our opinion)!

Want to try this DVD for yourself and get your zen on, too? Comment below to enter to win. Winners will be picked randomly in a week! U.S. residents only, please. And, please, if you’ve tried Tai Chi or Qi Gong before, tell us all about your experience in the comments! —Jenn

 


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