Why You Should Be Doing Tai Chi

Article by Make The Days Count Contributor Stefanie Johnson

 

Many different people practice Tai Chi.  If you happen to come across a class and you have never seen it before, stand back and watch them.  You won’t be able to help but notice how beautiful the movements are, especially in a larger, synchronized group.  There is something haunting and elegant about watching Tai Chi.  Sped up, it could cause injury to another.  However, that’s not what Tai Chi is about.

 

Tai Chi is a non-competitive form of martial arts that was developed in China about 2,000 years ago.  Legend claims that it was begun by a Taoist monk who found inspiration in the lithe, fluid movements of animals, and decided to use these movements to direct the flow of qi – life energy – throughout the body.  It contains 100 different movements.

 

The following are three of the most popular forms of Tai Chi:

           

Wu

Wu is very gentle, and the movements are narrow.  This form is better for those who have a more compromised range of movement.  It is good for building a sense of balance.

           

Yang

Yang is a more demanding form.  This form uses a slightly faster pace, with a wider stance and bent knees.  It is better for those with a little more experience in Tai Chi.  

           

Chen

Chen is an extremely gentle form, with less transfer of weight than others. This form, as well as Wu, is excellent for beginners, people with compromised joints, and seniors.  

           

Anyone can and should be doing Tai Chi.  It can be done by people of all ages and levels of fitness.  In fact, it seems to be especially beneficial for the elderly and those who have joint issues.

           

The Benefits of Tai Chi Include:

 

1) Healing.

Although there are no guarantees, in some cases, the joint pain of those who practice tai chi regularly (about 1 to 3 times a week is average) completely vanishes.  It can also help speed recovery from an injury, depending on the nature of your injury.  Talk to your doctor about it.

 

2) Low Impact/Low Chance of Injury.  

Tai Chi is one of the safest forms of exercise with an extremely low rate of injury and strain.  It is also kind and gentle on the joints.

 

3) Teaches Balance/Helps Prevent Falls.

The movements Tai Chi teach can help promote self awareness and maintain both mental and physical balance, which could lower your chance of slipping and hurting yourself.  This is especially important for older people, who generally have more fragile bones.

 

4) Requires No Equipment, Little Space.

Even if you live in a tiny apartment, you can do Tai Chi. There is no equipment, and you don’t need much space at all to do it.  In that way, it’s also very economical.

 

5) Relaxing.

Tai Chi is meditation in motion.  It’s relaxing, lowers stress, and teaches proper breathing, which can positively impact overall health.  It also helps to promote mental clarity.

 

6) Increases Flexibility, Agility.

The gentle stretching movements of Tai Chi increase flexibility and agility, and are excellent for improving muscle resilience and toning.             

 

7)  May Improve Organ Function.

Some of the principles of Tai Chi are based on Chinese medicine.  Practitioners believe that Tai Chi may aid in digestion and circulation, and also massages inner organs, thus improving their condition.

 

Getting Started

When starting out there are a couple of things to keep in mind concerning Tai Chi.  If you are pregnant, have a hernia, sprains, fractures, or osteoporosis, talk to your doctor before doing Tai Chi and discuss what your limitations may be.

 

If you are completely new to Tai Chi, it might be best to take a class to start with so you can make sure you achieve correct form.  However, if there are no classes in your area, a DVD is a good compromise.

 

Wear flowing, loose fitting clothing while practicing Tai Chi and make sure you are well hydrated and in a comfortable environment.

 

For a gentle, yet effective workout for all ages, Tai Chi is a wonderful choice. So what are you waiting for? You should be doing Tai Chi!

 

When we are unable to find tranquility within ourselves, it is useless to seek it elsewhere.

-Francois de La Rochefoucauld

 

Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is a nobler art of leaving things undone.  The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of nonessentials.

-Lin Yutang

 

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Posted on 21 January, 2009 in Balance, Fitness & Health
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