Can Tai Chi and Qigong Postures Shape Our Mood? Toward an Embodied Cognition Framework for Mind-Body Research.

Author: Osypiuk K1, Thompson E2, Wayne PM1
1Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, Division of Preventive Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, United States.
2Department of Philosophy, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Conference/Journal: Front Hum Neurosci.
Date published: 2018 May 1
Other: Volume ID: 12 , Pages: 174 , Special Notes: doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2018.00174. eCollection 2018. , Word Count: 186

Dynamic and static body postures are a defining characteristic of mind-body practices such as Tai Chi and Qigong (TCQ). A growing body of evidence supports the hypothesis that TCQ may be beneficial for psychological health, including management and prevention of depression and anxiety. Although a variety of causal factors have been identified as potential mediators of such health benefits, physical posture, despite its visible prominence, has been largely overlooked. We hypothesize that body posture while standing and/or moving may be a key therapeutic element mediating the influence of TCQ on psychological health. In the present paper, we summarize existing experimental and observational evidence that suggests a bi-directional relationship between body posture and mental states. Drawing from embodied cognitive science, we provide a theoretical framework for further investigation into this interrelationship. We discuss the challenges involved in such an investigation and propose suggestions for future studies. Despite theoretical and practical challenges, we propose that the role of posture in mind-body exercises such as TCQ should be considered in future research.

KEYWORDS: Qigong; Tai Chi; depression; embodied cognitive science; embodiment; mood; posture

PMID: 29765313 PMCID: PMC5938610 DOI: 10.3389/fnhum.2018.00174