Tai chi is a non-competitive martial art that is known for both its defense techniques and its health benefits.
It is an ancient Chinese tradition that has evolved over centuries to become a means of alleviating stress and anxiety.
Advocates of the art claim that it promotes serenity and inner peace. Tai chi literal translation is Ultimate Fist, and is also known as a Moving Meditation and as the Longevity Exercise.
You don’t need to learn much about tai chi’s roots in Chinese philosophy to enjoy its health benefits.
The translation is Ultimate Fist and is also known as a Moving Meditation and as the Longevity Exercise.
You don’t need to learn much about Tai chi’s roots in Chinese philosophy to enjoy its health benefits.
Key things to know
- Qi: Qi is an energy force thought to flow through the body. Tai chi is said to unblock and encourage the proper flow of qi.
- Yin and yang: these are opposing elements thought to make up the universe, and need to be kept in harmony. Tai chi is believed to promote this balance.
- Tai chi trains the major ligaments that serve as the springs of the body, and ligaments are also critical in keeping your internal organs from encroaching on each other and thereby demoting their functions.
- Tai chi nurtures the muscles.
- Tai chi trains biomechanical alignments, which permits the bones and internal organs to bear the forces of gravity that pull on all the other parts of your anatomy attached to them.
Every person who practices tai chi wins in terms of health benefits, given the situation with rising health care costs.
Tai chi does not only exercises the muscles, but it also twists and stretches all parts of the body, acting as a massage for the internal organs, resulting in blood, other fluids, and energy flowing better throughout the body.
The movements of tai chi continuously massage your lungs, heart, liver kidneys and spleen, with its constant turnings of the waist and limbs, creating gentle internal pressures that twist and create beneficial compressions in your organs.
Taking care of your internal organs is vital because your life and health depend on them. The stronger your internal organs are, the better you can perform in any area of your life.
Tai chi practitioners experience a sense of aliveness, of vitality, as they tend to gain more coordination, balance and simple confidence in their movement, making falls and other stumbling mishaps less likely.
Furthermore, if the body is already injured, from an accident or a chronic disease, tai chi can help to relieve the pain and symptoms and to hasten recovery.
Tai chi is advantageous for both preventive medicine as well as restoring health after injury or illness.
In tai chi, stretching occurs by gently letting go of the tension in your muscles, rather than by forcing muscle fibers to stretch.
This stretching movement affects not just the large muscles, but also hundreds of smaller muscles.
Western exercise programs are beginning to embrace stretches of these smaller muscles, but most still don’t and even when they do, they often do it as ineffectively.
Tai chi does a wonderful job of relieving back, neck and shoulder pain by loosening up all the muscles of the upper body and softening muscles that become stiff through repetitive daily activities.
It can also help increase the healing rate for damaged organs.
Many people ignore their breath, and the thought of deliberately exercising their lungs and diaphragm to extend their length of breath and air intake volume is completely remote.
But practicing to increase your breathing capacity helps your normal breath to become significantly deeper and longer, drawing a lot more oxygen into your system.
Tai chi thus, increases your breathing capacity, regardless of whether or not you consciously practice its specific breathing techniques.
Tai chi movements generate increased chi flow through the body’s acupuncture meridian lines and through the channels of other energy systems in the body, and as a result, you effectively cultivate more chi in several ways.
Stress Management Benefits
Stress is not only a leading risk factor for many deadly health conditions, but it can negatively impact one’s relationships and personal happiness as well.
However, through the regular practice of tai chi, one can better deal with stress, whatever be the cause, either external factors or by one’s own negative thoughts.
Tai chi practitioners learn to move energy in a way that doesn’t continue to feed cycles of negative thoughts and feelings, helping to clear out the deleterious effects of stress hormones that are released in stressful situations.
As your nervous system opens up and loses its resistance, tai chi helps you gain access to and let go of the hatred, jealousy, self-pity, greed, inappropriate anger, etc… this is so beneficial since maintaining emotional negativity requires tension that can destroy much of life’s happiness.
Also, by releasing the physical tensions in muscles, organs, tissues and your nervous system, tai chi provides the support to relax emotionally and maintain a sense of tranquility from deep within.
Stress usually causes the mind to speed up, become erratic and produce withdrawn thoughts (Chinese call it the “monkey mind”).
However, the more you relax, the more your conflicting thoughts slow down and you can then see things with more clarity and less frustration.
It has been found out that mental relaxation will help you:
- Settle down and become calm, permitting you to focus on the necessary tasks.
- Multi-task without mental stress and distraction.
- Connect your brain to your body.
- Able to multi-focus, without becoming tense and feeling pulled in different directions.
- Gain deeper insight and allow the natural emergence of ideas.
For many, being able to think with clarity and not have your thoughts churn and jangle your nervous system, provides a profound sense of well-being.
Relaxation causes chi to flow smoothly and fully, while tension causes chi to flow erratically, in a spasmodic manner and with significantly less force.
When chi moves smoothly, it has a natural balancing quality that helps the body to heal and regenerate.
Thus, the smoother the flow of chi, the stronger and healthier you get.
Tai chi at increasingly subtle levels will help you examine your emotional demons, thought processes, subtle perceptions and your definition of “possibility”.
Tai chi can also free you from your cravings, attachments, and your relationship with your innermost essence.
Few health exercises have stood the test of time in comparison to Tai chi, which can do so much to improve overall health and relieve stress as aerobics and other exercises.
It improves muscle function and the circulation of blood in your system without generating potentially damaging shocks or trauma to the joints and internal organs.
It keeps everything inside our body healthy.
From the smallest muscles to ligaments, joints, bodily fluids, vertebrae, and all internal organs.
Besides being a great body workout, tai chi helps you to reduce and manage stress and pain of all kinds and to recover more rapidly from trauma and injuries.
Tai chi can also serve as a form of meditation (moving meditation), helping you release energetic blockages, negative emotions and thoughts.