There is no doubt that most people prefer in-person classes but there are many benefits to online exercise programs such as:
- Saving time for not having to commute to the exercise studio
- Not worrying about the dress code
- Saving money as most online programs are more affordable
There are of course many disadvantages to online classes, so in choosing an online exercise program we want to minimize the drawbacks. To help you discover why we think Qi Gong is the best exercise to be done online, we have put together the top 3 reasons.
In general any exercise is good for our health, but any workout also comes with the risk of injury. The most common workout injuries include:
- Back injuries
- Knee injuries
- Pulled or sprained muscles
- Other joint injuries like shoulder, elbow, ankle
- Injuries caused by falls
Without an instructor to keep an eye on proper techniques, online classes can increase your chances of injury. So it is important to choose an exercise that is inherently safe. Here are the reasons why Qi Gong is by far the safest exercise that you can do on your own:
- It is low impact; moves are done mostly in a standing position, no jumping or running. It can also be adapted to be done sitting down.
- It is slow; movements are slow and stretches are held only for a few short seconds.
- It is well-designed; each set is designed to start with moves that are simple enough that anyone including beginners can follow along. As the complexity of the moves increases, it will require better hand-eye coordination but still safe and within the capability of almost anyone.
Regardless of whether it is an in-person or an online class, a good Qi Gong instructor will lead the exercises at a safe pace and let students know to always work within their own limits.
You do not need any special dress code, equipment or much space to practice Qi Gong. Some of the movements may take a few steps forward, backward or sideways, so a space of about 8 feet by 8 feet is sufficient. Certain Qi Gong sets do not even take any steps at all.
If you have really limited space and cannot even take more than one step in either direction, the moves can be easily adapted to step on the spot or take very small steps.
One of the most difficult things about learning online is trying to discern LEFT and RIGHT. If the instructor is facing the camera, his or her right side is your left side. It is not fun at all trying to follow the instructor and having to figure out which is right and left at the same time.
A good instructor will be able to perform the mirror image while facing the camera; or the studio will have full size mirrors so you can follow easily as if in-person.
The good news with Qi Gong is that the exercises are always symmetrical, i.e. it does not matter left or right; or each move is done left AND right. That means you do not need to follow the instructor exactly left versus right – you just repeat the move in alternating directions.
3. A BALANCED EXERCISE
With so many different exercises to choose from and not enough time to do them all, we can optimize our time by choosing exercises that strike a good balance on the different aspects of health.
Being healthy can mean different things for different people, but here are a few common exercise goals:
- Improve strength
- Improve range and mobility
- Improve balance and body coordination
- Reduce stress
- Improve endurance
Each Qi Gong set has its own unique characteristics and focus, selecting the right combination of Qi Gong exercises can help achieve all the above goals.
Strength training in Qi Gong covers the entire body, they include moves like lifting your heels, squatting down low, circling your torso, clenching your fists, glaring your eyes, etc.
Range and mobility is achieved through flexion and extension of our body and limbs including fingers and toes; twisting and turning of our hips, torso and neck. When we reach the end point of a movement, the stretch and tension is held in place for a few seconds. This is an effective way to improve our flexibility and can also help in our recovery from injuries.
The obvious moves that improve our balance include one legged poses or standing on the balls of our feet, while the less obvious ones involve turning, bending or twisting our body while keeping balanced. Complex moves in qi gong typically require all four limbs moving differently, in combination with head and eyes looking at a specific direction; they are designed to improve our overall coordination.
All qi gong exercises require a calm and quiet mind; this is achieved through slow breathing, good posture and mental focus on the specifics of the move, breath or sound. The conditions are very similar to meditation and can help relieve stress, anxiety, sleep loss or concentration issues.
Finally with endurance, you need to find a qi gong class that runs for at least 30 minutes, preferably more. Each Qi Gong set typically takes 10 – 30 minutes to complete. So practicing just one set is not enough. To maximize the benefits of practicing Qi Gong, you want to practice at least 2 sets of qi gong back to back.
QI GONG IS GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH
One additional health benefit that comes with Qi Gong practice is improved “qi” flow in your body. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, removing blockages and allowing our internal qi to flow unimpeded strengthens our immune system and is the basis of good health.
There are many types of exercises that call themselves qi gong. If you want to learn more about qi gong in general, you can read the blog “What is Qi Gong?”.
The Qi Gong exercises described here are primarily classified as Dynamic Qi Gong or sometimes referred to as Health Qi Gong (for more details read “What is Health Qi Gong?“). Try a class and find out for yourself how Qi Gong can be a really good online workout.