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I have practiced martial arts since I was 11 but I had recent problems with my back which meant I had to undergo 2 operations last year and am preparing for my third shortly. Before and after every class of a kung fu style which I was learning the entire class had to perform about an hour of breathing and stretching exercises which greatly reduced the likelihood of injury during training. The bonus of this preparation however was not just to protect us during our kung fu. The circulation and posture is dramatically improved by this method of gentle stretches and deep relaxing breathing. I have noticed some classes around my area, which cater for those who wish to learn the gentle art of chi gung but would rather not involve themselves in the martial aspects of kung fu. Similar to tai chi chuan this art is a way of healing and controlling the body, and if someone in my physical condition can manage it anybody can. Look out for it if you feel that the gym is a bit too energetic but you are intent on staying fit and supple.