The Health Benefits of Tai Chi

tai chi classTai Chi Chuan or more commonly just Tai Chi (pronounced tie chee) has been in existence for at least 1,000 years. Originally it was a form of self-defense. Today it is graceful movements that have been described as meditation in motion. It is used today by millions of people throughout the world to promote the vital energy flow through the body and good health. Tai Chi can be used by anyone of all ages.

Accounts of the history of Tai Chi differ, the most consistent history is that of a Taoist monk with the name of Chang San-Feng watched the movements of five animals and observed that the snake and the crane through their movements were better able to defend themselves against strong and unyielding opponents. 

Tai Chi is a series of movements that are called forms or routines. With names like ”the white crane spreads it wings “ and “the slanted palms flying”. Each form or movement calmly moves into the next form. The body is always in gentle motion with these forms. There are numerous forms of tai chi and most of them have shorter versions between 20 and 40 movements to make is easier to learn. 

Tai Chi is helpful and healthy for your body in many different ways, and it is also very beneficial to senior citizens by creating balance and reducing falls.
  • Increased flexibility
  • Increased energy, stamina and agility
  • Improves muscle strength and definition
  • Improves balance
  • Massages the internal organs
  • Helps the exchange of gases in the lungs
  • Helps the digestive system function properly
  • Improves posture, coordination and prevents falling
  • Improves proper breathing
  • Slows bone loss in women
  • Lowers high blood pressure
  • Relieves chronic pain
  • Improves cardiovascular health
  • You can burn between 230 and 330 calories per hour depending on your weight while doing Tai Chi.

Tai Chi helps the mind in these ways:
  • Reduce anxiety and depression
  • Improves sleep quality
  • Feeling more alert
  • Feeling calm
  • Stress reduction
When you start to learn Tai Chi it is important to keep your body upright and good posture. Also concentrate on your movements and breathing, this is where the moving meditation comes in. Breathing is very important and one of the first things you will learn is to breathe properly, which actually isn’t as easy as it sounds. That was the first thing I noticed when I learned was my breathing was not like it should be. 

Many of the movements will shift you from one leg to another, which greatly helps balance and leg strength. When I hurt my back years ago, I had to almost learn to walk properly again. My left leg strength had diminished and my ankle had a tendency to move inwards, making balance and walking awkward. Doing Tai Chi movements helped me with this. 

Tai Chi

There are a lot of wonderful benefits that anyone of any age can have from learning Tai Chi. To learn Tai Chi, you can enroll in a class, there are many classes all over. You might check with your YMCA or a gym or a senior center. You might even get a DVD of Tai Chi and try to teach yourself. You do need to be careful teaching yourself so that you don’t do the movements wrong, and that includes breathing properly which is very important. 

An even more basic and simple version is called Tai Chi Chih. You can find classes or videos to teach yourself all of the versions of Tai Chi. Once you learn the movements to Tai Chi, you can then do them yourself, just about anywhere without any instructors or videos. 
© 2009 Sam Montana

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