A guide offers exercises for the mind, body, and spirit.
Mixing Western medicine with Eastern traditions, Kuhn (Tai Chi for Depression, 2017, etc.) introduces the reader to two worthy “internal energy workouts”: taiji and qigong. Both blend meditation and exercise and are, according to the author, excellent ways to counter the damages of aging that affect bodies and minds. Taking a holistic approach to health, Kuhn advocates a regimen of simple exercises that will keep the body in balance, sharpening memory and holding diseases at bay: “If you move your body in an energetic way every day,” writes Kuhn, “you can change your life and your health.” Following an explanation of the history and philosophy of qigong and its younger offshoot, taiji, the author describes the positive effects of these practices on the cardiovascular, respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems, as well as how they increase stamina, bolster the immune system, and correct chemical imbalances. She then goes through the various exercises, providing photographic examples and paragraphs explaining the goals and payoffs of each one. The author also advises the reader on other activities—such as singing and socializing—that supplement these exercises. Excerpts from the Tao Te Ching and a list of recommended reading round out this primer for anyone embracing these Chinese workouts. Kuhn writes in a clear prose that is simple to follow. She makes a compelling case for the exercises and the philosophy behind them. Even those who are unconvinced of the validity of traditional Chinese medicine should find sound advice for healthy living in these pages. But some chapters feel redundant, repeating information—such as the benefits of taiji—found elsewhere in the book. Similarly, a vague mystical language permeates the volume (“Shen refers to our spiritual energy, our highest consciousness, a reconnection with universal energies”), which may put off more skeptical readers. But those curious about traditional Chinese exercise or interested in a holistic program of health with a philosophical bent should find much of value in this work. As Kuhn likes to remind the reader, these are exercises for all ages, and the younger one starts, the better.
An informative manual for explorers of taiji and qigong.