Tai chi helps reduce stress and anxiety. And it also helps increase flexibility and balance.
If you’re looking for a way to reduce stress, consider tai chi (TIE-CHEE). Originally developed for self-defense, tai chi has evolved into a graceful form of exercise that’s now used for stress reduction and a variety of other health conditions. Often described as meditation in motion, tai chi promotes serenity through gentle, flowing movements.
Often shortened to t’ai chi, taiji or tai chi in English usage, T’ai chi ch’uan or tàijíquán is an internal Chinese martial art practiced for both its defense training and its health benefits. The Chinese say that “whoever practices T’ai-chi, correctly and regularly, twice a day over a period of time, will gain the pliability of a child, the health of a lumberjack, and the peace of mind of the sage.”
There are five major styles of t’ai chi ch’uan, each named after the Chinese family from which it originated:
- Chen-style(陳氏) of Chen Wangting (1580–1660)
- Yang-style(楊氏) of Yang Lu-ch’an (1799–1872)
- Wu- or Wu (Hao)-style(武氏) of Wu Yu-hsiang (1812–1880)
- Wu-style(吳氏) of Wu Ch’uan-yu (1834–1902) and his son Wu Chien-ch’uan (1870–1942)
- Sun-style(孫氏) of Sun Lu-t’ang (1861–1932)
Each style may have its own subtle emphasis on various tai chi principles and methods. There are also variations within each style. Some may focus on health maintenance, while others focus on the martial arts aspect of tai chi.
In Tai-Chi the focus is to relax our mind, our body and being, bringing an awakening presence and aliveness to every cell. It is low impact and puts minimal stress on muscles and joints, making it generally safe for all ages and fitness levels. Using awareness, we mobilize the energy or “Chi” to move the body through the numerous postures that make up the Tai-Chi form. It is like the rhythmic flowing of the ocean. Because tai chi is low impact, it may be especially suitable for older adults who otherwise may not exercise.
When learned correctly and performed regularly, tai chi can be a positive part of an overall approach to improving your health. The benefits of tai chi include:
- Decreased stress and anxiety
- Increased aerobic capacity
- Increased energy and stamina
- Increased flexibility, balance and agility
- Increased muscle strength and definition
Some evidence indicates that tai chi also may help:
- Enhance quality of sleep
- Enhance the immune system
- Lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure
- Improve joint pain
- Improve symptoms of congestive heart failure
- Improve overall well-being in older adults
- Reduce risk of falls in older adults
How to get started doing Tai Chi you may ask? At this year’s expo Movement Arts Professional Celeste Graves will be doing a demo based on the international Tai Chi for Health programs of Dr. Paul Lam. This presentation will include, Tai Chi for Fall Prevention; Tai Chi for Energy, and the advanced 73 Sun Style Tai Chi form. Come to the expo and learn this great fitness method that’s been around for thousands of years and see how it will improve your quality of life.
Lee, M., & Ernst, E. (2011). Systematic reviews of t’ai chi: An overview. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 46.
Tai chi: A gentle way to fight stress. (n.d.). Retrieved from Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/stress-management/in-depth/tai-chi/art-20045184?pg=1
Wile, D. (2007). Taijiquan and Taoism from Religion to Martial Art and Martial Art to Religion. Journal of Asian Martial Arts , 16.