"Qigong Illustrated" by Marietta resident Christina Barea provides an in-depth view of the exercise. Certified in qigong in 2003, Barea said she became aware of exercise through tai chi, which she had been practicing for 12 years. "It's been a journey," she said.
At first glance, the exercise might resemble yoga. Barea says core concepts are similar in the sense that there is an integration of the body with a moving pattern and visualization. However, she says the difference between the two is constant movement.
"We go into a posture and hold that posture for a certain amount of time while breathing, and then move on into the next posture (in yoga)," she said. "Qigong tends to be more dynamic."
Barea said "thousands" of types of the exercise exist. She said, "We want to move the body in harmony with a specific breathing pattern while holding on to a visualization.
"If you think of qi (pronounced "chi"), (it) is the energy," she continues. "If you think of qi as water, you want that water to be constantly moving."
She said where qi flows, disease does not set in. "We want to have that water essence flowing throughout the body," she said.
Barea teaches classes at The Rising Lotus Qigong, located at 4360 Georgetown Square, Suite 814, in Dunwoody. She said she has nearly 100 clients. She said they have claimed various health benefits from the practice of qigong, including lowered cholesterol and being able to breath on their own without an oxygen support system.
She notes one client, a smoker, had open heart surgery and was told she would have to use an inhaler for the rest of her life. Barea said qigong classes were recommended to her client. After four months of the qigong, the client no longer had to use an inhaler.
"(The client) said to herself, 'I am determined. I am not going to be dependent on this inhaler and I am going to get strong again.' And she did," Barea said, who added that her client never missed a class. "In four months, she was feeling better than she did before she went to surgery."
Of the health benefits, Barea says it doesn't take long to make a difference in one's health. "It's very accessible and easy to tailor to different body types and conditions," she said.
Personally, Barea said she has no health concerns, is rarely sick and does not have to take medicine regularly. She leads an active lifestyle but said, "I really have to credit my overall health to the practice of qigong and tai chi. Its just amazing."
As a Daoist priest, Barea says the religion and exercise are closely related, as they are both based out of China. "The development of qigong is, or was, very closely related to people who were practicing Daoism," she said.
Barea says Daoism balances the richness of qigong. She says the exercise has a martial, spiritual and health application. "What I feel right now is that I have a global perspective of the richness of this practice of integrating the body, the breath and the mind - all areas and levels at the same time," she said.
For more information, visit www.therisinglotus.com or contact Barea at (408) 220-4923 or Christina@therisinglotus.com.