Tai Chi Chuan
Tai Chi Chuan is one of the great treasures of the Chinese culture. Today, people worldwide practice it as an art, a form of preventive medicine, and a health maintenance exercise. Because Tai Chi is a slow, relaxed, gentle, physical exercise, it can be performed by people of all physical conditions and all age groups. One can engage in this art to keep fit from youth and continue to practice well into old age.
Tai Chi Chuan is an exercise which emphasizes relaxation and tranquility. This is exactly the opposite of what we generally experience in our daily lives. Tai Chi practice gives the active portion of the nervous system a chance to re-charge and be restored, while making the inactive portion of the nervous system become active so that the nervous system becomes balanced. In addition, the stretching and relaxation of the body in Tai Chi Chuan practice helps those people who have sedentary careers to improve and restore their muscle functions as well as improve their blood circulation.
With dedicated practice, Tai Chi Chuan provides benefits to people of all ages. Moreover, it can be practiced anywhere, at any time, which makes it an ideal exercise for today's fast paced, mobile lifestyle.
What exactly is tai chi chuan?
Tai chi, pronounced "tie chee chwan," is a gentle exercise regimen that is a part of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Derived from the martial arts, tai chi has been practiced in China for centuries and is still a daily routine for millions of people there, especially the elderly. Tai chi is designed to enhance overall health through slow, deliberate movements, meditation, and deep breathing.
Similar to many practices from the East, tai chi is based on spiritual and philosophical ideas that advocate a need for balance in the body, mind, and spirit.
How does tai chi work?
Eastern philosophy holds that tai chi unblocks the flow of qi; when qi flows properly, the body, mind, and spirit are in balance and health is maintained.
Tai chi has three major components—movement, meditation, and deep breathing.
tai chi, slow, gentle movement improves balance, agility, strength, flexibility,
stamina, muscle tone, and coordination. This low-impact, weight-bearing exercise
can also slow bone loss and thus prevent the development of osteoporosis. Many
studies indicate that elderly people who practice tai chi are much less prone to
falls, a serious health risk to people in that age group.
What does a tai chi session entail?
Tai Chi sessions are usually group classes that last about an hour. Each session begins with a warm-up exercise. Then the instructor guides the class through a series of movements that together comprise a "form." A form can take up to 20 minutes to complete. Each form has a nature-based name that describes its overall action—such as "wave hands like clouds" or "grasp the swallow's tail." At the same time, students are to focus on the point just below their navels, believed to be the center from which qi flows. The class is encouraged to perform all movements in a slow, meditative manner and to focus on deep breathing. At the end of the class, there is usually a wind-down exercise, relaxation, and meditation.
How many sessions will I need?
Classes are usually taught on a monthly basis. You can enroll in several monthly classes, if you wish, for as long as you want. Most practitioners recommend practicing tai chi daily at home, since regular practice is essential for mastering the forms and achieving lasting results.
What conditions respond well to tai chi?
Tai chi improves overall fitness, coordination, and agility. It also lowers blood pressure and heart rate, promotes relaxation, and releases stress and tension. People who practice Tai Chi on a regular basis tend to have good posture, flexibility, and range of motion, are more mentally alert, and sleep more soundly at night. Tai chi is both a preventive and a complementary therapy for a wide range of conditions.
Are there conditions that should not be treated with tai chi?
Tai chi is safe for everyone, regardless of age or athletic ability, and can be modified for most health problems. People with limited mobility—even those in wheelchairs—can learn and successfully use Tai Chi. However, it is not meant to replace medical care for a serious condition. Talk to your doctor and your instructor about any health problems or recent injuries you may have, or if you are pregnant.
Is there anything I should look out for?
Tai chi exercises muscles in areas of your body that may have been neglected for a while, so you may feel sore at first. It takes time to develop the flexibility and agility needed for Tai Chi, so don't get discouraged.
What do you wear while practicing Tai Chi?
You don't have to change your clothing to perform Tai Chi . It is recommended that you wear clothing that is comfortable and easy to move in, such as a loose-fitting, comfortable t-shirt or sweat shirt, shorts or lightweight pants and socks. Cotton, cotton blends or other breathable fabrics are best. We usually practice in socks but shoes can be worn if necessary.
Any final notes?
Yes. Bring a friend or family member with you and enjoy the benefits of practicing Tai Chi together.
Some of the many benefits of Tai Chi include:
· Mind and Body Meditation
· Relaxation and reduction of stress
· Internal organs are exercised, blood circulation is improved
· Regular practice of Tai Chi helps to prevent illness and improves health and longevity
· Relieves arthritis (in many people, arthritis pain disappeared completely) and increases flexibility of the joints
· Prevents bone fatigue and improves balance and coordination
· Improves mental and physical concentration and focus
· Helps to prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes
· Medical studies have shown that Tai chi practice helps to prevent falls.
· Strengthens and improves the body's immune system