Healthy Beginnings

Ai Chi: What Are The Benefits?

What is Ai Chi?
“Ai Chi is a water-based total body strengthening and relaxation progression that bridges East and West philosophies, and integrates mental, physical and spiritual energy,” according to the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD). It combines Tai Chi and Qi Gong concepts with Shiatsu and Watsu techniques, and is performed in shoulder-depth water using a “combination of deep breathing and slow, broad movements of the arms, legs and torso,” according to NCHPAD.

“When you take that deep diaphragmatic breath (in Ai Chi), and you slow it down, and you’re mindful to that breath, and you pay attention to that breath, you stimulate or activate the parasympathetic nervous system,” Starr Nixdorf, owner of Paradise Salon Spa and Certified Aquatic Rehab Trainer, said.

The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for bodily functions when we are at rest: it stimulates digestion, activates various metabolic processes and helps us to relax, according to PubMed Health.

What are the benefits of Ai Chi?
Ai Chi is a beneficial exercise program that promotes movement, flexibility and strength, and increases energy. Ai Chi also helps reduce muscle weakness and joint stiffness, as the warm water (about 86-90 degrees) allows for “slow, relaxed movement and increased blood flow to joints, tendons, muscles and ligaments,” according to Aqua for Balance.

“You can get the joint to move without any force or any effort,” Starr said. “So, it’s very therapeutic for frozen shoulder, it’s very therapeutic for people who have had sports injuries, etc.”

Ai Chi is also known to help minimize symptoms of anxiety, fatigue and depression, and, because Ai Chi promotes breathe and movement, can have a beneficial effect on those with chronic pain, arthritis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes and balance impairments.

Where can I learn more about Ai Chi?
Starr, also a certified Ai Chi Trainer with special emphasis on people with spinal fusions and scoliosis, as well as wounded veterans, teaches Ai Chi classes daily at Paradise Salon, Spa and Wellness Center.

For more information, call Starr at 775-883-4434 or visit