Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Qigong Illustrated by Christina J. Barea

QiGong Illustrated
Title:  Qigong Illustrated
Author:  Christina J. Barea
Publisher:  Human Kinetics
Publication Date:  2011
Format:  Paperback, 168 pages
Age Group:  Adult, non-fiction

Description from back cover:
Strengthen your body.  Strengthen your mind.  Each year, millions of people worldwide discover qigong and the incredible healing power of qi.  Now, with Qigong Illustrated, you can too.
Qigong Illustrated is a step-by-step guide complete with detailed instructions and full-color photo sequences of the most effective movements, exercises, and traditional routines, including Daoist Five, Eight Silk Brocade, and Turning and Winding the Belt Vessel.
Centered on the three essential componentes of qigong (body, mind, and breath), Qigong Illustrated's straightforward, highly visual approach is the quickest and most effective way to experience the physical and mental benefits of each routine, such as improving your posture, strengthening your body, and reducing tension. You will also learn to put together an effective qigong flow and combine routines to address your heath and fitness needs.
Whether you are completely new to qigong or have practiced for years, Qigong Illustrated will accompany you step by step on the path to better health and self-awareness. This is the exercise guide that you will turn to time and time again.
I think exercise books in general tend to be difficult to read.  I have a hard time picturing the movements and do much better when I have someone right in front of me showing me what to do.  The photo illustrations in Qigong Illustrated were very helpful in getting past this difficulty.  When I found the text instruction confusing I could look at the photo and usually figure out the movement.

Barea does a great job at simplifying the Chinese terms used in qigong while retaining the importance of the ideas behind them.  I love that she acknowledged what a complex system qigong is while encouraging the reader to not get so caught up in the complexity that you never actually start moving.  Her encouragement to just start without worrying about doing everything perfectly is exactly what I needed to hear because I tend to not try something unless I know I can do it the 'right' way.

I really like the way this book is laid out with the initial chapters working through the ideas inherant in qigong, moving through the elements of a qigong routine, and then finally going through a few sets of exercises focusing on different conditions.  The exercise routines were well written with the written description of the movement accompanied by a picture and then a picture sequence at the end of each routine which demonstrates the overall flow.

Visually the book is also very well laid out.  The text is easy to read with good use of headers and bold font for directions.  Various colored boxes are also used to set apart tables and other important text blocks.  The photographs are clean without a distracting background so the position of the model can be seen clearly.

Overall, I believe Qigong Illustrated will be a great reference book and I am looking forward to starting my own qigong practice.

I received Qigong Illustrated from the Early Reviewers program at LibraryThing in exchange for my honest review.

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