1. Newland, Jamesetta RN, PhD, FNP-BC, FAANP, FNAP

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April 25, 2009 is World Tai Chi and Qigong Day, which is recognized by numerous government institutions in all 50 states, world leaders, and the United Nations World Health Organization. Individuals from over 65 nations will participate in events that occur at 10 a.m. local times throughout the world on the last Saturday in April. The official Web site states that the purpose of the day is to advance personal and global health and healing using the motto, "One World [horizontal ellipsis] One Breath."1 The concept for the day originated in a school of traditional Chinese medicine in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

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Health in slow motion

I needed some enlightenment, so I searched and found the following definitions on Wikipedia, the popular online encyclopedia. Tai chi [chuan] is "an internal Chinese martial art often practiced for health reasons" using slow motion routines.2 Qigong encompasses "a wide variety of traditional cultivation practices that involve methods of accumulating, circulating, and working with qi." Qi is breathing or energy within the body practiced for health maintenance purposes, as a therapeutic intervention, as a medical profession, a spiritual path, or component of Chinese martial arts.3


Further investigation on the official site led me to a link featuring a free demonstration of qigong breathing exercises. I smiled because I could definitely identify with the other name given for the exercise, "After-Birth Breathing." The animated demonstration was clear: the diagrammed figure's chest and abdomen moved with each respiration, arrows showed the movement of air, and I could hear the sound of rhythmic breathing as air flowed in and out of the lungs. How relaxing!! I wanted to join a class right then. I have always associated martial arts with fighting. I now stand informed about the gentler perspective of martial arts, where combined breathing and movement is key.


What does the research say?

I looked at the site's section on medical research. The standard disclaimer was there advising individuals to consult with their provider before beginning any new exercise, herbal, diet, or health program. One can select from a list of common ailments, including insomnia, anxiety, depression, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, asthma, weight loss, and many others. I chose osteoarthritis, which returned results from several research studies, mostly randomized clinical trials, which supported tai chi as an effective therapy. I then perused a research database for two of the articles, and upon review, found that the content for the osteoarthritis article reported on the site was indeed accurate.


A place for holistic practice

One of my patients suffers from severe chronic neck and shoulder pain, and recently started studying qigong with a master teacher. Physical therapy had failed on two different attempts to relieve her symptoms. She does not believe in taking Western pharmaceuticals, will not consider surgical intervention, and has always eventually relied on some form of alternative or complementary therapy for whatever ailed her.


As a provider, I must acknowledge and respect her choice and do what I can to help her improve the quality of her life. Complementary/integrative therapies are popular options for patients. Within our profession, we have nurses trained as advanced practice holistic NPs. I admire the additional knowledge and management skills they bring to any healthcare situation. I am still learning. Join me this April 25th to promote "a healing wave of calm"1 on this National Health Observance day.


Jamesetta Newland, RN, PhD, FNP-BC, FAANP, FNAP

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1. What is world tai chi & qigong day? [Context Link]


2. Tai chi chaun. [Context Link]


3. Qigong. [Context Link]