Chi: The Fundamental Mystery and Miracle

Chi is the life-giving, vital energy that unites body, mind and spirit.

Having its origins in early Chinese philosophy, chi has been likened to the yogic concept of prana, and Chinese health practitioners refer to it as “life force” because when it leaves your body, your life is over.

ChiRunning, ChiWalking and ChiLiving follow the basic principles of the ancient Chinese martial art of T’ai Chi, drawing heavily on the use of chi to create power and movement in your body. Proper body alignment, combined with relaxation in your joints and muscles, allows chi to flow freely through your body, making movement powerful, yet effortless at the same time. We use these principles to reduce the effort of moving forward, whether you’re running, walking, working, parenting or just living your life.

The good news is, you don’t need to know anything about T’ai Chi to take advantage of this incredible body-wisdom used for millennia to increase the flow of chi through the body.

Chi in Health and Healing

In Traditional Chinese Medicine one of the causes of ill health is the stagnation or blockage of chi. When your chi is strong, balanced, flowing and focused you exude energy and good health.

Great strides can be made to direct and improve the flow of chi with simple exercises and practices. For instance, when your posture is well-aligned and your muscles and joints are relaxed, chi energy flows through your body in an unobstructed way. And, it’s amazing how quickly and positively your body responds to the flow of chi even if it’s been through years of neglect or abuse. Health and longevity are two of the greatest “side effects” of the unobstructed flow of chi.

In the best-selling book, Between Heaven and Earth: A Guide to Chinese Medicine, authors Harriet Beinfield and Efrem Korngold write,

“That which animates life is called Qi. The concept of Qi is absolutely at the heart of Chinese Medicine. Life is defined by Qi even though it is impossible to grasp, measure, quantify, see or isolate. Immaterial yet essential, the material world is formed by it. An invisible force known only by its effects, Qi is recognized indirectly by what it fosters, generates and protects.

Matter is Qi taking shape. Mountains forming, forests growing, rivers streaming, and creatures proliferating are all manifestations of Qi. In the human being, all functions of the body and mind are manifestations of Qi: sensing, cogitating, feeling, digesting, stirring, and propagating.… It is the fundamental mystery and miracle.”

Moving from Your Dantien

Your dantien is the home for your Chi and the best place to focus your mind, so that all your movement comes from a balanced, whole place in yourself. Your dantien is located just below your navel and a few inches in toward your spine. Master George Xu, our T’ai Chi teacher, taught us to focus on our dantien and allow all movement to originate from that place.

Why? Because chi is stronger than muscles, and movement driven by chi is more deeply powerful.

More powerful than muscles? Absolutely. In the West, muscles are almost akin to a god, in the way we worship them, and what they represent. Covers of magazines and TV commercials extol rock hard abs and buns of steel.

In T’ai Chi we quickly learn that muscles are no match for the power of chi. Like the flow of water that created the Grand Canyon, the power of chi will move your body much farther and faster than muscles, where energy is limited and relatively short-lived.

In ChiRunning, ChiWalking and ChiLiving we encourage all movement, all action, all choices to come from this center – that deep place in yourself that is home to your greatest potential and power.

Posted in Inside Chi

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"Running doesn't hurt your body. It's the way you run that causes pain" -Danny Dreyer, author and founder of ChiRunning

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