Tai Chi & qigong

Tai Chi (“tai chee”) also spelled Taiji and Tai Chi Chuan, is a form of martial art training. Often called a “soft” or “internal” martial art, it emphasizes finely tuned awareness, coordination, and agility. It embodies the principle of softness overcoming resistance, and cultivating stillness and slowness to gain speed and power. Today, Tai Chi is enjoyed by millions of people throughout the world for its health benefits. This is the focus of all Tai Chi for Health Pittsburgh classes. The moving meditation of Tai Chi is soothing yet challenging, aligning mind, body and spirit for overall balance. Tai Chi classes involve learning a sequence of movement patterns.

Qigong (“chee gong”) also spelled Chi Kung, is a branch of Traditional Chinese Medicine that has been practiced for thousands of years to prevent disease and promote quality of life. Qigong is described as energy cultivation or breath work.  Short, repetitive movement patterns are synchronized with the breath to release tension, opening and integrating the body as a whole. Practice can be done in place (standing or sitting) or moving through space. Stillness is an important part of the meditative practice of Qigong to draw attention inward, enhancing self-awareness, harmony, and healing.

When Tai Chi is not focused on martial applications, it is more similar to Qigong with the emphasis being health promotion. However, Tai Chi involves lengthy movement sequences that require attention to the mechanics and direction of movement. The complexity of choreographic patterns challenges balance, coordination and agility. Tai Chi requires more thinking and commitment to remember the sequence. There is a longer but very satisfying learning curve to personalizing the experience.


The rhythmic repetition of simple Qigong patterns emphasizes fundamental principles of movement and the sensory awareness of energy circulating within the body. The accessibility of Qigong facilitates an almost immediate experience of relaxation and integration. Ultimately, Tai Chi and Qigong are complementary versions of the same practice, like the interplay between Yin and Yang. Tai Chi being Yang, is more externally focused on what to do. Qigong is the supportive Yin, focused internally on calming the mind and being at ease.  Every Tai Chi for Health Pittsburgh class includes some elements of each.

Qigong, Yoga and Meditation incorporate mindfulness, movement and breath to align body, mind and spirit. There is a wide variety of styles and approaches within each practice, while sharing the common goals of enhanced self-awareness and well-being. The differences are found in the various methodologies used.


Qigong is typically done standing, or adapted to sitting. Qigong emphasizes flowing movement, where breath and action are synchronized allowing images and energy to circulate throughout the body and mind. Slow rhythmic movement and active stillness create a dynamic, fluid balance, cleansing and refreshing with each new breath.


Yoga is typically done lying on a mat or adapted to sitting. Yoga emphasizes form by holding body postures interspersed with brief transitions from one position to another. Mind, body and breath are drawn together in the stillness of each posture.


Meditation is typically done in a seated position, on the floor or in a chair. Meditation emphasizes stillness or emptiness where the practitioner sits quietly to expand awareness of their inner being as well as all surroundings. The long periods of stillness require discipline and concentration to cultivate the desired state of mental and emotional clarity and acceptance.

Medical studies show that regular practice of Tai Chi and Qigong can help you:

  • Restore balance & mobility
  • Transform stress into vitality
  • Sharpen focus & memory
  • Build strength, agility & resilience
  • Recover from illness and injury
  • Improve sleep & boost energy
  • Elevate mood & reduce anxiety
  • Manage chronic health conditions
  • Support cardio-pulmonary health
  • Strengthen immunity & prevent disease
  • Enhance self-awareness & confidence
  • Cultivate harmony, serenity & joy

Tai Chi and Qigong address the interaction among the physical, mental and emotional parts of ourselves. These holistic practices have been used for centuries to address a wide variety of health concerns. Participants are encouraged to respect their individual abilities and needs, adapting the movement to feel safe and comfortable, and to rest when needed. Classes are non-competitive, allowing students to progress at their own pace. In terms of physical exertion Tai Chi for Health Pittsburgh classes can be compared to walking. While Tai Chi is traditionally done standing, all Tai Chi for Health Pittsburgh classes can be done sitting.


If you have any medical concerns that might impact your ability to participate safely and comfortably, please consult your physician.

our classes

Classes are generally one hour in length. Practice can be done standing or sitting.   Classes begin with the breath to quiet the mind and draw attention to the body center and internal flow of energy. Gentle stretches and balance exercises serve to activate and open the body. Movements are done slowly and mindfully to coordinate and align the body as a whole. At first the focus is mechanical, like piecing together a puzzle, figuring out how the various shapes and directions of movement fit together. Images are used to guide the mind and align intention with action. With time the focus shifts away from the mechanical to enjoy the flow that comes from moving with effortless ease. The benefits can be felt in the coherence and tranquility of this embodied practice.

In-person classes can range from 5 to 20 students, depending on the size of the space. Online classes can accommodate more participants.

When in-person classes must be cancelled due to inclement weather, the class will be held on Zoom on the same date/time. Should this be the case, students will be notified of the change in format by noon of the day of the scheduled class. The Zoom link for the class will be included in the email.

Please wear comfortable clothes and flat flexible shoes. If practicing at home, stocking feet or bare feet would be fine.

No equipment is needed; however, you might want to bring a bottle of water.

registration & attendance

Step by step instructions for registration and class access are available here

Within each class description on the class pages you will find a SIGN UP link to register and pay online for the class you choose. Upon completing your transaction, you will automatically receive an email confirmation. If you prefer to pay by check or cash, please register by contacting us directly.

Online payments for single classes should be made at least 24 hours prior to the class via the SIGN UP link for that class.  You can also pay by check or cash upon arrival to the class. When coming for the first time please inform Gurney via the CONTACT page.

Yes, late registrations are accepted as long as space is available. The fee will be pro-rated according to the number of classes remaining in the cycle. Please contact Gurney directly via the CONTACT page.

Yes, you are welcome to attend another class to substitute for one you have missed or anticipate missing. This should be done within your currently registered cycle.

Fees are not refundable once the class has begun.

Yes, please contact Gurney directly to purchase a gift certificate.

Please feel free to contact us if you have additional questions.