This article originally appeared in the December 2014 issue of Generations Magazine.

If starting a new exercise routine is part of your self-improvement plan this year, you may want to consider Ai Chi.

Ai (meaning “love”) Chi (“breath/essence/ being”) is a graceful form of aquatic exercise that involves a series of movements performed in a slow, focused manner using deep breathing and accompanied by relaxing music and low lighting. It combines Tai Chi and Qi Gong concepts of positioning and controlled motion, carried out while standing in shoulder-deep warm water. Ai Chi is an efficient program that:

Increases oxygen and caloric consumption through correct positioning in the water

  • Relaxes tension
  • Relieves stress
  • Improves mobility, strength and balance
  • Boosts mental alertness

Suzanne Whitehead, a certified Ai Chi instructor since 2011, teaches one day a week at Moon Physical Therapy. She says the body is often thrown into a fight-or-flight response, which, over time, may become toxic to the body, mind and spirit.

Combining correct breathing with the slow, soft movements of Ai Chi can restore the being to its full potential. Her clients’ comments include, “a soothing experience,” “mind and body relaxation,” and “a symphony for my body.”

So try Ai Chi as part of your wellness program this New Year. Improve physical and mental health, and minimize the effects of stress.