The philosophy that physical motion is a necessity for life is at the heart of the ancient Chinese practice of qi gong (pronounced "chi kung"). When performed consistently, the immediate and long-term benefits are numerous: restored and enhanced health and vitality, increased motor skills, improved mobility, balanced energy and a more focused mind.
Unlike t'ai chi, which has 24 moves set in a specific order, qi gong comprises hundreds of individual exercises that you can mix and match. Though it may take a few tries to get accustomed to moving in such a slow, relaxed manner, with regular practice you'll be pleasantly surprised at how calm, centered and energized you'll feel.
What to do: Perform these six popular qi gong moves daily or even twice a day (morning and evening) as an individual practice or precursor to other activities. Repeat each move 6 to 8 times; the set should take about 15 minutes to complete. Due to the gentle and flowing nature of the exercises, you don't need a formal warm-up or cool-down. There's no equipment required, and you don't need to change your clothes. As you move, place the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth; this helps to induce calmness and focus.
Breathing: Breathe rhythmically and deeply. (Unlike yoga or Pilates, the breath is not connected to each part of the movement.) To enhance your practice, inhale through your nose, expanding your rib cage and belly; exhale through pursed lips, gently pulling your belly in.