As we approach World Tai Chi & Qigong Day on 30 April, Katie Brindle, renowned Chinese Medicine Practitioner, best-selling author and founder of Hayo’u Method and Hayo’uFit, explains what qigong is all about and why it is so beneficial, whatever your age or fitness level.

We all want a beautiful body, a healthy and strong body. But all too often, however hard we strive in the gym or try and stick to our punishing diets, convinced that the more we push ourselves the greater our success will be, we find that it eludes us. We end up feeling defeated and miserable.

Not everyone has the time or the inclination to go and slog it out in the gym, with gruelling exercise routines that further deplete our already exhausted minds and bodies. We might not want to go to a class full of young and lithe bodies. We might be resuming exercise after years of simply being too busy with careers and bringing up families to think about our own fitness needs. We might feel that we are just a little too out of shape or just a little too out of energy to start something new. So, we settle; we put up with feeling stressed, exhausted and out of shape. We tell ourselves that those extra few pounds, squidgy bits or low-level aches and pains are normal “at our age”. But it really doesn’t have to be like that.  Why?

Because we have qigong!


But what is qigong and why is it the perfect self-care practice for the modern 21st Century woman?

Qigong is ideal for people who are approaching, or perhaps already in, their “second spring”.   People like us, who are looking for something to engage with, to keep us as fit, healthy, balanced and relaxed as possible whilst being gentle and nurturing to our bodies. Qigong is the opposite of the punishing and stressful regimes that we usually expect, and probably dread, when we hear the words exercise and gym. It is immensely enjoyable – and it actually works!

Although only recently coming into mainstream Western awareness, qigong is an ancient Chinese practice, the forerunner of tai chi and is sometimes referred to as Chinese yoga. It combines gentle, slow and considered movements and stretches that, together with breathwork and mental engagement, have been carefully choreographed to balance and support the body as a whole.

To sum it up simply, if qigong is the grandmother, kung fu is the parent and tai chi is the child. Tai chi is a stylised martial arts form of qigong. Both tai chi and qigong focus on using breath, body movement and visualisation to move qi around the body. But while each tai chi move can theoretically be used for self-defence, most qigong motions exist solely for the purpose of meditation, health and healing. Tai chi is also typically a highly choreographed and complex series of movements, whereas qigong is easier to learn, a more repetitive practice that you can do at home.

Qigong is ideal for anyone, of any age, mobility or fitness level. Being low impact, it is especially easy on the joints and as all the movements can be adapted to suit individual ability, it can be enjoyed even by those who have been unable to do other forms of exercise.

The practice can be done anywhere, at any time, with no specialist or expensive equipment.  It is effective, enjoyable, relaxing and achievable – and best of all you can feel the benefits immediately. It is a form of self-care that really can rejuvenate the mind and body to bring back flagging or even long-forgotten joie de vivre.

Qigong is a practice that I discovered many years ago on my journey as a Chinese Medicine practitioner. It has changed my health, strength and flexibility, my mindset and my mood more than any other exercise modality I have ever tried.

Chinese wisdom has always understood that how we appear on the outside is a manifestation of our internal health. As you work your body gently, yet intensely, from within you will see unparalleled results, both physically and mentally. And the better your overall health, the slower the ageing process; the stronger your five key organs, the more balanced your body becomes. You will experience greater flexibility, coordination, muscle tone and strength.

With Qigong you really can take control of your own health and well-being, remaining healthy, improving existing concerns and even preventing illness by tackling any low-level niggles before they get a foothold in the body.

So, how does it work?

Chinese Medicine understands that balance within the five key organs of the body – Heart, Lungs, Spleen, Liver and Kidneys – holds the key to good health, clearing stress, reducing inflammation, and increasing immunity. Qigong translates as “life force” (qi) “practice” (gong) and it is this qi, the energetic and vital life force that continually flows through us, underpinning our physical, emotional, and spiritual health and wellbeing, that is the basis for our very existence.

Like feelings and emotions, qi cannot be seen, yet it penetrates every part of our body at every moment. Chinese doctors appreciate that the quality and movement of this energy – this qi – throughout our body can prevent or even heal sickness if directed in the right way.

Qi nourishes and nurtures our five key organs so that our whole body is aligned and balanced, ensuring our yin and yang are restored.

By engaging in the three key principles, which are the basis of good health according to Chinese Medicine, the energy flow within the body – the qi – will be restored.  These key principles are:

  1. The smooth flow of circulation
  2. The consistent purging and nourishing of all cells
  3. Strengthening the five key organs

Practising qigong regularly will encourage the smooth flow of circulation in a calming, gentle yet energising way. It will purge the cells within the body of the toxicity, negativity and stagnation that impedes the free flow of this all-important circulation in the first place. And as qigong boosts our oxygen uptake and circulation, whilst we are in a relaxed state, our cells are then nourished as we breathe deeply. We strengthen our key organs, literally with every breath we take.

Qigong really is for everyone: the ultimate self-healing technique, providing immediate results and long-term benefits including:

  • Increased energy
  • Improved mood and vitality
  • Strengthened immune function
  • Reduced physical pain and inflammation
  • Improved sleep
  • Regulated metabolism and improved digestive function
  • Reduced anxiety, cortisol and stress hormones
  • Regulated blood pressure
  • Positive effect on bone health

It is the ideal practice to support our own self-care and wellbeing and is considered extremely safe for all ages. However, as with any new practice, it is advisable to speak to your doctor before you begin so that you can let us know of any particular requirements or restrictions you might have, and we can suggest adapted moves if necessary.

At Hayo’uFit our highly qualified instructors teach online so you can join the classes as they are streamed live, or watch later, at a time more convenient for you. With over 100 qigong, breathwork and meditation classes to choose from every month, there really is something for everyone, wherever you are on your fitness and self-care journey.

With all the very clear benefits that qigong offers, it is no wonder that for thousands of years people in China have enjoyed qigong to keep their bodies and minds healthy and strong.  And today, increasingly, people of all ages, the world over, are embracing this ancient and revered practice.


Our classes have been expertly curated to integrate movements from:

  • 12 Rivers: 12 movements: one for each of the organ meridians, which flow like rivers through the body, balancing the activity of the internal organs, posture, and emotions.  These movements will help you understand these energetic channels and the responsibilities that each organ has on the body and to each other.  Invaluable for balancing the body as a whole.
  • Between Heaven and Earth: This practice works to build deeper reserves of qi by activating the flow of energy in the extraordinary meridians, which flow like ocean currents, circulating the body’s energy. When they flow freely, they refresh and renew energy reserves, making the energetic system stable, resilient and strong.
  • Enter the Qi: Expanding further, this beautiful practice creates a smooth flow of healing energy to every part of the body, which can then be integrated into every area of life.
  • Animal Play: The most dynamic form of qigong works more on the external structures of the body, muscles, tendons and fascia to increase mobility, agility, balance and strength. It is the practice that will really help to sculpt the body, leaving you toned and trim.
  • Qigong Meditation: An essential part of regular qigong practice, meditation develops the connection between mind and body so that we can be more aware of our energy and how it moves within us. Harnessing this awareness allows us to direct our energy to bring health, harmony and balance within.

If you would like to explore the world of qigong for yourself – do join us for a free seven-day trial where you can experience the enjoyment and benefits for yourself via

Instagram: @hayoufit @thehayoumethod @katie_brindl.



Katie Brindle is a preventative health expert, women’s wellness commentator, founder of the multi-award-winning lifestyle brand Hayo’u and best-selling author of Yang Sheng: The art of Chinese Self-Healing. A passionate women’s health advocate, she has been a practising Chinese Medicine Practitioner since 2002.



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