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Digital Subscriptions > Healthy Food Guide > September 2018 > FIND YOUR FLOW and improve your health

FIND YOUR FLOW and improve your health

The gentle art of QI GONG

Eastern-inspired exercise techniques are now as mainstream as legs, tums and bums classes at local leisure centres. So what are the benefits? This month, Hannah Ebelthite takes inspiration from the ancient Chinese practice of qi gong

YOU MAY HAVE SEEN THEM in the park or at your leisure centre: groups of people wearing loose clothing making gentle, slow, sweeping movements in unison. They were probably practising qi gong (pronounced chee-gong), an extensive set of ancient exercises that originated in China and which includes the more well-known tai chi.

Sometimes incorrectly lumped into the ‘sport-for-the-elderly’ category, the benefits of qi gong are relevant at any age and its popularity is growing.

‘I describe qi gong as a toolkit for self-care,’ says Claudia Cahalane, who teaches the practice in Brighton and Hove. ‘It’s easy, intuitive and accessible for everyone, whatever your age, health or fitness level.’ And with benefits including stress relief, strength building, flexibility and memory improvements, it could be the gentle exercise you’ve been looking for.

What’s the idea behind it?

Qi, sometimes known as chi, means energy or life force. Gong (also kung) means work or practice. So qi gong describes any type of movement or martial art where you’re harnessing and working with your body’s own energy flow. But you don’t need to be into the philosophy to reap the benefits.

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About Healthy Food Guide

We help you identify when your body's trying to tell you something, and give diet advice for protecting your eyesight in future years. Troubled by teens? We’ve got the ultimate survival guide for parents and teenagers, including focused nutrition info. We also take inspiration from the healthcare professionals battling their personal weight demons – and winning. And don’t miss the winning line-up of our Best of Health Awards to help you shop healthily into the new season...