What is Ai Chi?

Graceful Form of Aquatic Exercise that involves a series of movements performed in a slow, focused manner and accompanied by deep breathing, Created by Jun Konno, in 1990

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.

It combines Tai-Chi and Qi Gong concepts with Watsu techniques, and is performed standing in shoulder-depth warm water using a combination of deep breathing and slow, broad movements of the arms, legs, and torso.

The Ai Chi progression moves (kata) from simple breathing, to the incorporation of upper-extremity, trunk, lower-extremity, and finally total body involvement.

Ai Chi is an efficient exercise program that:

  • Increases oxygen and caloric consumption through correct form and positioning in the water.
  • Is a perfect relaxation technique for highly stressed, over-challenged people.
  • Is ideal for creating improved range of motion and mobility.

Water, movement, and music are used to encourage a state of relaxed awareness.

Ai Chi takes advantage of the waters properties, fostering range of motion while challenging balance (safely) and facilitating core strength and stability. The series of movements is simple, but effective and becomes meditative when performed repeatedly and coordinated with the breath.

Ai Chi is widely recommended especially for high stress and other disorders that limit movement or energy and as such it is an important activity in our wellness program, as it can improve physical and mental health, while minimizing the effects of stress symptoms.

  • Ai Chi can be a way to get your body moving, increase your energy, and promote flexibility and strength.
  • Ai Chi can help reduce muscle weakness, widespread pain as well as joint stiffness.
  • The warm water allows for slow, relaxed movement and increased blood flow to joints, tendons, muscles and ligaments.
  • It can also minimize problems associated with conditions such as polymyalgia rheumatica and rheumatoid arthritis.

In terms of mental health, Ai Chi can minimize problems such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Depression

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), chi (Qi, life energy) moves through your body, keeping you vital and healthy. Problems with the flow of chi are linked to disease, and TCM practitioners believe that restoring its proper flow will bring about good health.

Ai Chi along with acupuncture is believed to promote the circulation of chi.

Many of the Ai Chi benefits come from breathing and exercise, as well as effects related to the relaxed contemplative state. The expanded range and cardiovascular benefits that arise from Ai Chi training have proved beneficial for patients with:

  • chronic pain
  • arthritis
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • diabetes
  • balance impairments

Ai Chi can also promote relaxation with people who are coping with high stress levels.

The Ai Chi coordination of breathing and movement allows muscles to produce graceful, flowing movements of the trunk and extremities. This activity can lead to development of core control and alignment for all movement, not only Ai Chi movements.

Alignment, balance, and stabilization skills can be improved with properly trained slow movement techniques. Balance learned in the water (an unstable medium) translates well to land.

Along with arthrokinematic effects, the active Ai Chi motions recruit specific muscle groups and preserve the contractile property of soft tissues. Relaxation done before range of motion will minimize or eliminate monosynaptic spinal reflex.

Submerging the joints lessens the joint compression and edema. The properties of water combined with the Ai Chi movements can improve range of motion and overall mobility. From a musculoskeletal viewpoint, range of motion is an effective means of maintaining the integrity of connective and soft-tissue structures.

Ai Chi can Assist with the Following Health Conditions

  • Chronic disorders and other issues, such as pain management
  • Respiratory Disorders
  • Cardiovascular Problems
  • Respiratory Disorders
  • Cardiovascular Problems
  • Circulatory Disorders
  • Metabolic Disorders
  • Psychological Problems
  • Musculoskeletal or Orthopedic Disturbances
  • Neurological Disturbances
  • Endocrinological Disorders


Alcohol and smoking are prohibited during activities.

There are several precautions you need to consider before participating the thermal aquatic bodywork:

  • confusion or disorientation
  • after ingestion of alcoholic beverages
  • under the influence of narcotic
  • medications
  • respiratory problems
  • hypertension
  • medical condition affecting the spine
  • spinal disc herniation (slipped disc)
  • pregnancy
  • limited strength, endurance, balance, or range of motion


You can not participate if you suffer from any of the following conditions:

  • incontinence diarrhea, bowel/bladder incontinence
  • vomiting (emesis)
  • seizure (epilepsy) disorders
  • open wounds or non-healing ulcers
  • contagious skin condition
  • herpes
  • high fever
  • HIV
  • hepatitis C
  • infectious diseases
  • ear infection (otitis)
  • urinary infections
  • perforated eardrum
  • eye infection
  • heart disease (abnormal heart function), cardiac failure
  • blood pressure disorder (untreated)
  • pregnancy (after the 17th week, with your physician approval)
  • chemotherapy and radiation therapy (after the 3rd month)
  • allergies or sensitivities to pool chemicals
  • excessive fear of water
  • colostomy bag/catheter use by patient

Ai Chi can be used in groups or individually, requires no equipment, and allows the hair and face to stay dry. This head-out position is important for non swimmers who would benefit from exercise in the water.

Ai Chi – Part One by Jun Konno


Ai Chi – Part Two by Jun Konno

Jun-Konno-Creatore-Ai-Chi-7Jun Konno, ATRIC, creator of Ai Chi, is one of Japan's foremost swimming and fitness consultants and the President of Aqua Dynamics Institute (Japanese chapter of AEA).

Since 1986, he has worked to promote aquatics in Japan and is Chairman of the Executive Committee for Japan's National Aquatic Conference.

In the mid-1990s, Konno asked Ruth Sova, MS, president of the Aquatic Therapy and Rehab Institute and founder of the Aquatic Exercise Association, to help popularize Ai Chi Together with Konno, Sova undertook the project of spreading word about the program globally. They published Ai Chi: Balance, Harmony & Healing in 1999 and developed a certification program.

Resource Website: www.ruthsova.com/aichi.htm


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