by Xinhua writer Zhang Dailei, Gu Zhenqiu
LONDON, Aug. 28 (Xinhua) -- Dressed in bright yellow uniform, fourteen children from England's Fibbersley Park Academy were performing Baduanjin, the ancient movements of Chinese Qigong, together with nearly 300 adult competitors at the opening ceremony of the third European Health Qigong Games(EHQG).
After one-year practice, these future Qigong stars, aged from 6 to 11, were invited to demonstrate their knowledge and practice of Qigong on the occasion of the EHQG, which was launched Tuesday in the University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield.
Rheeya, 11, told Xinhua that she was lucky to be selected to join the Qigong club at school and she now likes practising it every day by herself at home.
"Because it's very fun and it's very slow. It's a great thing to do. I want to learn lots more and become better at it," she said.
The children's Qigong instructor Nicola Day, member from British Health Qigong Association (BHQA), has tried to bring Qigong into UK school curriculum one year ago when she started teaching the ancient Chinese health practice one time a week at Fibbersley Park Academy.
"As a teacher I have noticed that the children in the UK are becoming stressed by school work and life in general. Many children and adults now spend a considerable amount of time in the day gazing at electronic screens of phones and tablets and much less time interacting with other people face to face," said Day.
"The UK education system is also putting pressure on to the children to be successful in national exams. I know that through the practice of Qigong and Mindfulness, the balance of social interaction, fitness, stamina and mental health can be redressed," she added.
Day, a middle school music teacher, first encountered Tai Chi and Qigong during her time at university in 1980s and immediately fell in love with Chinese martial arts. Fully aware of the healthy benefits of Qigong, she wanted to seek a school that would give her the chance to prove the impact of Qigong practice on young students.
Li Hui, chair of the BHQA, told Xinhua that the association, established nine years ago focusing on training of professional Qigong instructors in UK, has seen increased number of Europeans who are interested in learning more about the benefits of this ancient Chinese healing system.
A long-term advocate for dissemination of traditional Chinese culture, Li has trained thousands of Tai Chi and Qigong enthusiasts and instructors all over the UK and Europe. Her group has already started research and cooperation since two years ago with a NHS hospital in Nottingham to train the therapists about how to use Qigong to deal with chronic fatigue syndrome.
Oliver Darkow, vice president of Swiss Health Qigong Federation who brings his team to the 3rd EHQG, also believes in the healing effect of Qigong.
"I think it's so amazing. I started practising health Qigong three years ago and now still do it in Switzerland. It is very good because I feel more healthy. I really appreciated that I can concentrate and focus and be more congruent on myself," he said.
He added that Qigong also made him become more interested in Chinese traditional medicines and sports culture, and his Qigong team is planning to go to China next year.
About 300 participants from 20 countries and regions, including France, Germany, Switzerland, Russia, Greece, Canada, Sri Lanka as well as China, gathered at the third EHQG and also a scientific symposium on health Qigong hosted by BHQA.
Suzy Harvey, High Sheriff of Hertfordshire, said she hopes the 7-day event will promote cultural exchange and encourage people of all ages to embrace Qigong teachings and practices for health, fitness and personal growth.
Xiang Xiaowei, an official with the Chinese Embassy in London, compared health Qigong as "the gem of Chinese culture".
"It is not only the most ethereal embodiment of Chinese health culture accumulated in the long history, but also serves as an alternative solution to the contemporary health issue we all face today," he noted.