The "Right" Age for Tai Chi or Qigong

 By Peter Harrison from Auckland, New Zealand - Tai Chi Young and Old, CC BY 2.0,

By Peter Harrison from Auckland, New Zealand - Tai Chi Young and Old, CC BY 2.0,

One of the greatest things about tai chi and qigong is that they bring together people of different generations. People of all ages, from small children to centenarians, do tai chi and qigong.

These arts are accessible to people at all stages of life. They are gentle on the body, so they can be practiced into old age. In fact, regular practice can help people to stay healthy, flexible, and strong.

But these practices are not just for older people. They have also always attracted the interest of younger and middle-aged people. They confer benefits that are very useful at every stage of life.

Younger people may get interested in qigong and tai chi for martial arts or to improve their performance in other activities, such as sports, theater, music, sex, and even intellectual pursuits. Qigong has been used to support such activities for thousands of years.

Another reason younger people get interested is meditation. Qigong has been used since ancient times to keep the body healthy and the energy channels open during sitting meditation. At its basic levels tai chi is a form of meditative movement, and some very high-level practitioners have evolved the art into a profound Taoist spiritual practice.

Students, workers, performers, and people in general are bound to encounter stress. Long hours of work and study, giving your all to raising a family, and the pressure to perform can all take a toll on us. Qigong and tai chi are renowned stress management systems. Practicing these arts can wash away the stress that accumulates during the day, before it has a chance to settle into your body. Regular practice can make you more resilient and better able to handle stressful situations without getting "stressed out."

Illness and injury can happen at any time in a person’s life, and the healing effects of qigong and tai chi are perhaps their biggest draw. They can help to alleviate a wide range of health conditions, have no side effects, are complementary to many conventional therapies, require no equipment, and best of all, they empower you to take your health into your own hands.

How often do a 25-year old and a 75-year old take a class together? There is so much to learn this way. Spending time in the multigenerational environment of tai chi and qigong classes has broadened my perspective and given me more appreciation for the arc of life. To me, this is a great gift.