Thursday, November 6, 2014

Discover The Ancient Chinese Practice of Tai Chi

What is tai chi?

Tai chi is an ancient Chinese practice that originated as a martial art and form of self-defense. The practice has evolved into a form of exercise that incorporates a series of gentle, focused movements with deep breathing and relaxation. While there are thousands of different styles of tai chi, all are based on specific forms and moves. Often referred to as “meditative movement,” this non-competitive, self-paced practice is great for stretching, balance and calming the nervous system.

Tai chi basics for beginners:

* Styles of tai chi include: Yan, Wu and Chen.
* The ancient practice is based on forms, with short being best for beginners.
* Tai chi involves moves, which are a combination of actions. Many moves have been named after animals, such as Bird’s Tail, Horse Stance and White Crane Spreads Its Wings. But, don’t let the complexity of the names deter you.

What are the health benefits of tai chi?
According to the Mayo Clinic:

Relieves stress and anxiety
Benefits cardiovascular health
Increases stamina and energy
Assists with balance, flexibility and agility
Improves muscle strength

Results of studies evaluating balance, sleep quality and cognitive performance can be found at

Additional benefits include:

Noticeable improvement in quality of sleep
Immune system enhancement
Lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure
Helps diminish joint pain
May improve chronic pain

Studies have proven that regular tai chi practice results in a reduction in the number of falls among participants. In addition, in a study involving stroke victims who practice tai chi, significant improvement in balance, quality of life and mental health issues were reported. Read more here.

What health conditions can tai chi benefit?

Balance, equilibrium issues or vertigo
Arthritis and any condition affecting the joints
Chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia

While tai chi is generally a gentle, safe form of exercise, always consult your healthcare provider before starting a practice.

Who can practice tai chi?

Individuals of all ages and fitness levels
Older individuals who otherwise may not be able to engage in exercise
Those recovering from injury or illness
Individuals or groups

How can you find a class?

Experts suggest you find a qualified teacher to learn tai chi movements
Videos and books are available to augment classes
Local YMCA/YWCAs, senior and health centers offer classes
Sites such as can help you find a teacher in your area.

Suggestions for maximum benefits of tai chi:

1. Set regular practice times
2. Practice several times per week, in addition to your class
3. Aim to workout for 20 minutes or longer
4. Wear loose, comfortable clothing

So, if you're looking for a new activity that offers numerous health benefits, can include the whole family and is relatively inexpensive to try, the ancient Chinese practice of tai chi might just fit the bill.

Be Wize & Be Healthy,

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