Tai Chi and Qi Gong, the disciplines that help keep the body in shape and purify the skin

Tai Chi and Qi Gong, the disciplines that help keep the body in shape and purify the skin

di Maria Serena Patriarca

The Christmas period: often a tough challenge for our scales and for the skin. There are many sweet and food temptations in general, and there is an increasing need to resort to wellness practices that help purify the body and skin of toxins, facilitating our state of physical fitness and beauty.

Tai Chi Chuan is an ancient Chinese martial art with many beneficial effects for the body and mind: it gives a sense of inner peace, improves concentration, promotes balance, strengthens muscle tone and body elasticity.

Practicing Tai Chi regularly is a panacea for our health as a whole, and makes the body stronger in the face of disease. That’s why it is an ideal winter activity. Suffice it to say that the Chinese government has been encouraging and spreading its practice since the 1950s and since 1999 the World Tai Chi Day, the World Tai Chi Day (last Saturday in April), has been recognized by the WHO and by the UN.

Tai Chi combines the theories of the five natural elements with the Taoist philosophy of the opposites Yin and Yang. It is a meditation through movement: but beware, it is much more than an energetic gymnastics, as it was born as a martial art in all respects and each movement can be used for personal defense: all in the name of fluidity and sweetness. The sequence of movements is controlled and harmonious.

A Tai Chi Chuan master first explains to the students the practice of the “ supreme art of fighting “, to transmit the technique, the form and the breathing. Stretching exercises, energy work, meditations make up a Tai Chi lesson, of which numerous tutorials can also be found online. In this ancient discipline there are various styles: for the Chen there are explosive gestures and accelerations, while for the Yang almost spherical movements are contemplated, with compact and slow steps. Everyone chooses the style that best suits their physical preparation and personality.

Qi Gong also comes from the Far East, a practice that is based on the awareness of breathing and slow movement, and on the flow of vital energy (Qi, in Chinese) that circulates in our body. Qi Gong is characterized by a series of gentle sequences made through movements that are repeated several times, stretching the body and expanding our feeling of presence in space. Relaxation and revitalization of the body’s energy channels are the goals of this practice. At the level of the nervous system, Qi Gong relieves anxiety and stress and “fights” insomnia. The sequences of Qi Gong also allow cleaning from the stagnation of toxins. This is why one of the benefits of this workout is an intense detox action on the epidermis, and over time, even the skin of the face appears more relaxed and radiant.

Qi Gong literally means “work on Qi” and in recent years studies have multiplied in the Western world, including at universities and health facilities, which demonstrate the psychophysical and emotional effectiveness of this ancient technique.

Also in the case of Qi Gong there are various schools and tendencies: they range from the more “martial” ones, as a setting, to those of a Buddhist or Taoist mold, up to schools with a “medical” or transcendental orientation.

For both activities, Thai Chi and Qi Gong, loose and comfortable clothing is recommended. The ideal is to sip a spicy infusion at the end of each lesson: in these winter months, make use of herbal teas based on spices such as ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, star anise, turmeric, cardamom.

The practice can be accompanied by soft oriental-style music, and on the web there are soundtracks to download about it.

These oriental practices can produce different effects depending on the time of day in which we choose to dedicate ourselves to them: if carried out in the morning they usually have a recalibrating and energizing effect. In the evening, however, they are excellent as a “decontracting” and relaxing moment, for example when returning from work before dinner.

The interesting thing is to train in an environment that is as quiet as possible, without excessive noise, and with a brightness that does not tire the eye.

There is no age limit and there are no particular contraindications for experimenting with Tai Chi or Qi Gong, but if you are new to it, at least at the beginning, it is always better to rely on an experienced teacher. Then, with the acquisition of experience, you can have fun in the sequences even at home, alone.