Tai chi is an internal martial art that integrates mind and body, cultivates internal energy, and promotes health and harmony. Originating in ancient China, tai chi is one of the most effective exercises for overall health and well being. Regardless of your age or physical condition, once you start, you can continue to progress to higher levels for the rest of your life.
The unique feature of tai chi is that it is internal, meaning it builds strength from inside of the body. Tai chi is based on nature. Its gentle flowing movements contain an inner power which strengthens the body and improves mental and physical balance and flexibility.
Numerous studies have shown that tai chi
- Improves muscular strength. Muscle strength is important for supporting and protecting joints and is essential for overall physical function.
- Increases flexibility through exercises that enable people to move easier.
- Facilitates circulation of body fluid and blood, which enhances healing.
- Improves the overall fitness and functioning of the heart, lungs, and muscles.
- Helps balance and prevents falls by emphasizing the importance of weight transferencefrom the legs.
Today, tai chi is practiced in every corner of the world for health improvement. Scientific studies show that the practice of tai chi improves, and prevents, chronic conditions such as:
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Back pain
- Heart-related problems
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Excessive stress and/or depression
- Cancer (helps mitigate the side effects of treatment)
There are many styles and forms of tai chi, the major ones being Chen, Yang, Wu, and Sun. Each style has its own features, but all styles share the same basic principles.
The essential principles of tai chi include
- Mind integrated with the body
- Control of movements and breathing
- Generating internal energy
The ultimate purpose of tai chi is to cultivate the “qi” or life force within us to flow smoothly and powerfully throughout the body. Total harmony of the inner and outer self comes from the integration of mind and body, achieved through the ongoing practice of tai chi.
With consistent practice of tai chi, one can feel
- The body’s internal energy (“qi” in Chinese)
- Clarity of mind; balanced mental state
- Agility and good control of body posture
Tai chi can be a meditation, an integral exercise for all parts of the body and the mind, and it can improve relaxation and inner stillness. While it can be many things to different people, the regular practice of tai chi will bring everyone better health and wellness.