Ai Chi — A symphony for the mind, body and spirit

The soft and flowing movements of Ai Chi, done with a profound, inwardly directed focus, help integrate the mind, body and spirit, and bring them into harmony.

by Jane Copper — 

Ai Chi, a simple water exercise and relaxation program, is performed using a combination of deep breathing and slow, broad movements of the arms, legs and torso in a flowing yet powerful progression.

Ruth Sova, author and founder of the Aquatic Therapy Rehab Institute, says, “Ai Chi, flowing aquatic energy, is one of the fastest growing relaxation and therapeutic modalities performed in the water. It is a total body-strengthening and relaxation program that bridges East and West philosophies. Ai Chi integrates mental, physical, and spiritual energy.”

Originally created by combining t’ai chi concepts with shiatsu and qi gong techniques, Ai Chi is an efficient exercise program that increases oxygen and caloric consumption simply, with correct form and posturing. It is performed standing in shoulder-depth water.

The physical movement principles include roundness, continuity and slowness. Movements must flow and be of equal force throughout the move, and performed with softness, grace and, at the same time, strength. Proper alignment is crucial.

The Ai Chi postures are ideal for promoting relaxation and improving range of motion, balance, strength, mobility and coordination. They also increase blood circulation, metabolism and caloric consumption. The yogic or diaphragmatic breathing massages vital organs, thereby improving liver efficiency.

Done in groups or one-on-one, Ai Chi has successfully helped with pain management of many chronic conditions and diseases such as diabetes and cancer. It has been helpful for MS, eating behaviors, immunodeficiency disorders, cardiac and pulmonary rehab, menopausal therapy and much more. Additionally, people with balance deficits, neurological and orthopedic difficulties, and even paraplegics and amputees have seen great benefits, as have healthy persons of all fitness and age levels.

Music and immersion in water are utilized to locate and free the body of stress and to encourage a state of relaxed awareness. This helps with insomnia, depression, anger, fatigue, anxiety and confusion. The slow, flowing movements improve kinesthetic sense. The yogic or diaphragmatic breathing assists in balance and improving immune function.

Many students comment how wonderful it feels to use their bodies with grace and strength, how they enjoy the feeling of the water on their skin, how relaxed they become and how much energy they feel in their bodies. The postures or movements have names such as Contemplating, Accepting, Freeing, etc. The instructor may talk to the students about how each of these concepts applies to their physical, spiritual and emotional life and well-being.

The soft and flowing movements of Ai Chi, done with a profound, inwardly directed focus, help integrate the mind, body and spirit, and bring them into harmony. Ai Chi is moving meditation; it is healing; it is waterdancing.

 

Jane Copper is an AEA-certified aquatic fitness professional, an ATRI-certified Ai Chi instructor and a Red Cross-certified water safety instructor. She is president of S.E.A. Fitness (Safe Energizing Aquatics). 480-947-4733 or Mermaid776@aol.com.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 26, Number 4, August/September 2007.

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