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Three Reasons to Practice Tai Chi

Updated on June 16, 2016
Tai Chi is a Traditional Chinese Exercise/Martial Art that is rich with health benefits.
Tai Chi is a Traditional Chinese Exercise/Martial Art that is rich with health benefits. | Source

About Tai Chi

If you have been practicing Tai Chi for a while, this article will not reveal anything you did not know previously, however if you are not familiar with Tai Chi, this article will expose you to a world you may not have ever considered incorporating into your overall wellness spectrum.

Tai Chi translates to mean the "supreme ultimate". Embodies opposites...day and night...a yin and yang of sorts in which we move to bring it all together.

Tai Chi is a traditional Chinese low-impact exercise and martial art that is often described as blending physical movement or postures that emphasizes balance, strength, flexibility and relaxation. This exercise not only focuses on both breathing and the mind, but enables one to achieve deep states of relaxation.

It is especially suitable for individuals who suffer from chronic conditions such as COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), chronic fatigue, emphysema, rheumatoid arthritis those unable to participate in exercise due to injury or obesity and older adults who are unable to or would prefer not to participate in a more rigorous form of exercise.

Tai Chi has been identified as being especially beneficial to women as it is reported to help prevent osteoporosis and ease the symptoms of fibromyalgia and multiple sclerosis, all of which are conditions that affect more women than men.

Tai Chi increases social interaction
Tai Chi increases social interaction | Source

Tai Chi Bodily Effects

So, the question becomes what is so great about Tai Chi and why should I consider adding it to my repertoire if its an exercise that is more geared to the older adult and/or chronic disease sufferers?

Well, if you're an older adult, definitely consider taking a Tai Chi class as a change of pace but if you're not consider the following research findings as motivation to embrace Tai Chi.

  1. Mood improvement/Anxiety reduction
  2. Stress reduction and relaxation
  3. Positive energy
  4. Enhanced fitness
  5. Pain reduction
  6. Improved sleep experience
  7. Increased social interaction
  8. Improves blood pressure and overall cardiorespiratory health
  9. Improves physical balance

Five Principles of Tai Chi

Tai Chi consists of five basic principles:

  1. Calm
  2. Relaxation
  3. Consistency in precision, speed and movement
  4. Practice and dedicated time each day

How Tai Chi Works

Each Tai Chi session is composed of a series of exercises better known as "forms". These forms are further made up of positions that when performed in a specific order help to make up a continuous movement that can mimic a continuous dance of sorts. For example, a single form could entail as many as 100 different positions that can take up to 20 minutes to execute.

As you can imagine, that's a lot to learn and could easily seem overwhelming but with the right class can be learned.

Although categorized as a martial art, there are forms of Tai Chi that do not involve combat or quick movements thus making it very suitable for those who are not able to participate in rigorous exercise programs.

Daily Tai Chi -8-minute exercise

Three Reasons to Practice Tai Chi

In summary there are three reasons to practice Tai Chi. Those reasons include:

  1. Improved state of mind
  2. Improved physical health
  3. Increased social interaction

Tai Chi may be more than 700 years old, but it's principles and benefits remain more relevant today than ever. While there are numerous videos and books out there about Tai Chi, it is highly encouraged that interested beginners find an actual class to learn Tai Chi. Should you choose to find and join a local class, make sure you observe a class to ensure that it is the right fit for you. What exactly are you looking for when observing a Tai Chi class for the first time?

  • Class size
  • How the instructor engages participants
  • Level of mastery -are they advanced or beginners like you
  • Affordability -not necessarily a characteristic but definitely something to examine as it relates to your ability to sustain participation

Finally, it requires several sessions before one is able to see the benefits of Tai Chi. Daily practices of 15-20 minute sessions are recommended to become proficient or two to three times per week to see actual results. In many instances it may take as long as 12 months to see the full benefits of Tai Chi materialize physically, however, research has shown that some may show physical and mental improvements within as little as 12 week of practice.

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    • Mahogany Speaks profile imageAUTHOR

      Mahogany Speaks 

      2 years ago from Texas

      Thank You Janshares!

    • janshares profile image

      Janis Leslie Evans 

      2 years ago from Washington, DC

      Excellent information about the basics of tai chi, Mahogany. You've highlighted many good points and principles about the practice. I've been practicing for years and can attest to the fact that it does take at least a year or three to really grasp the art. I enjoy it very much. Great job, two thumbs up.

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