Showing posts with label tai chi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tai chi. Show all posts

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,

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Get Physical!

And yes, you can do it to an Olivia Newton John song! But more importantly, you can get physical in your life. Winter is finally past – the weather is turning balmy. No more hibernating!

The time has come to get out there and move your body. And before you doubt whether or not you have the time or money to invest, I have awesome news: exercise requires much less time than you think, and it doesn’t need to break your budget.

It’s natural to become less active in winter: between the cold and the lack of sun, we often hide out. But as spring brings us fragrant showers and extended daylight, the desire to get out and move increases. So take advantage of this energy, and let’s talk about movement!

Too tired to exercise? If you are feeling low on energy, investigate some meditative practices, like yoga or Tai Chi. Exercise isn’t only about getting your heart rate up. It’s about moving your body, stretching your limbs, and feeling lighter in spirit. There are many different kinds of yoga, countless brands of meditation, so consider what might work best for you. And if the price seems prohibitive, check out your local YMCA, recreational center, and even your local yoga loft. Many of them offer discounts; some offer free or low-fee classes with new teachers. Online options abound, so you can enjoy your practice at home for a fraction of the cost.

Ready to get muscled up? The new craze in fitness is Crossfit. While it’s a company name, Crossfit is also a culture of people looking to get strong while enjoying a social environment. It’s not for those who don’t want to work hard: every workout will push you harder than anything you’ve ever experienced before.  But workouts are done in a group, with a leader. And the end results are amazing. Crossfit gyms are located all over the United States, and you might be surprised to find one very close to you. They are not traditional gyms, so I suggest visiting one before signing up. Crossfit-like gyms are popping up as well, and they have similar workouts, but are often less expensive.

Prefer to tighten, tone, and have fun doing it? Group fitness may be the ticket! If you like to dance, there’s Zumba. If self-defense has been your passion, check out kickboxing. If you like to try something new every week, investigate the many classes that are on the schedule at your local gym. And if getting out to the gym isn’t a possibility for you right now, videos are available online for a small fee. And if the quality of the video isn’t a big deal, YouTube has many free videos that you can browse.

Wanna go it old-school? Bodyweight exercises, walking, and running are great ways to move the body. Walking can be just as valuable as running for your heart health and body movement. And using only your bodyweight to train your muscles can be surprisingly effective. Skip the gym – you can keep your body in top shape at home! Check out Zuzka Light and You Are Your Own Gym author Mark Lauren for ideas on what might work best for you.

Belonging to a gym is not a requirement for health, but moving your body and maintaining your flexibility is. You don’t have to spend hours every day working out – short, effective routines can be just as valuable. Whatever you choose to do, make sure it’s fun! When we enjoy exercise, we’re more likely to do it. So try some different classes, discover what works best for you, and come back and let us know what you love!

Contributing Writer