Tai Chi Benefits

Medicine In Motion

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Tai Chi Benefits have been the most important part of my personal health plan for over 10 years.

I have practiced it as an exercise, to develop internal energy flow, and as a martial art.

The last point is most interesting because the slow, graceful movements that most people associate with Tai Chi, all have martial arts applications. With proper instruction and a martial intent, the same movements are executed very quickly with different outcomes.

It is this versatility that makes 600 year old Tai Chi a natural for all ages and any culture, and its benefits are now being studied as a treatment for many common physical ailments.

The World Health Organization and the National Institutes of Health have found positive relationships between the practice of Tai Chi and blood pressure, osteoporosis, and even fybromyalgia.

Other studies have shown that Tai Chi can improve flexibility, strength, and balance and that it can be effective as an arthritis treatment. (Anyone want to ditch their pills?)

In addition Tai Chi and closely related Qigong are some of the best ways for strengthening life energy, one of the 4 elements of natural health practices

I have come to understand Tai Chi as China's gift of health to the world.

Tai Chi benefits are realized by building the skills of muscle relaxation, proper body alignment and weight shift, an awareness of internal energy (chi), and deep abdominal breathing.

The 3 Basic elements of Tai Chi Training

A complete Tai Chi training regimen consists of three elements: movement routines, also called forms, partner exercises called "push hands", and the practice of Wuji.

Beginners may find these elements difficult at first, and it is best to find a good instructor or class, to learn the fundamentals, and develop skills.

Push hands is a non-competitive exercise that develops a sensitivity to another person's energy or "push". Push hands is the bridge between the Tai Chi form and martial applications, and therefore is optional, but it does add real understanding to the Tai Chi form.

Wuji is a standing posture meditation that strengthens and calms the body from the inside out, and promotes internal chi movement.

Practicing Wuji may be the most beneficial of the three elements, so make sure that is included in your training. I make it a daily practice, even if I only have 5 or 10 minutes.

Scientifically, we know that the practice of Wuji makes our parasympathetic nervous system more active - the parasympathetic nervous system lowers blood pressure and puts the body and mind into a relaxed resting state. All of the science and studies have meaning only if they really help your health. After 10 years of practice, here are some of the Tai Chi benefits that I have personally experienced:

  • Avoided lower back surgery
  • Developed enough of a skill at chi movement to assist in my body's healing process when I needed it
  • Improved my posture, balance, and agility
  • Helped manage my blood pressure
And here are some of the mind - spirit Tai Chi benefits I have experienced:
  • Learned to relax the tension in body and mind
  • More Fun - meeting, learning from, and teaching some great people
  • More outdoors time - Tai Chi has a tradition of being practiced outside in fresh air and sun, but indoors works well also
I encourage you to make Tai Chi a part of your lifestyle. I practice Tai Chi and/or its close relative Qigong every day, and I am grateful for whatever spark it was that got me to try it.....and stay with it.

There is much more to Tai Chi than can be communicated in this article. What is clear is that the more I practiced and deepend my understanding, the more Tai Chi benefits showed up in my life.

It has become not only an important medicine for me, but one of my most enjoyable activities, and a part of who I am.

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