What is Tai Chi?
For today’s Teach Me Something Tuesday Blog Post, we answer the question What is Tai Chi? Originating in ancient China, tai chi is one of the most effective exercises for a healthy mind and body. Although it is a bit of an art form with great depth of knowledge and skill, it is also easy to learn and delivers its health benefits very quickly. For many, they continue to perform tai chi as a lifetime journey and health investment.
There are many styles and forms of tai chi, the major ones being Chen, Yang, Wu, Wu and Sun. Every style has its own characteristics, but all styles share the same essential principles.
Included in the essential principles are that the mind is integrated with the body; there is control of movements and breathing; and you generate internal energy, mindfulness, song (loosening 松) and jing (serenity 静). The ultimate purpose of tai chi is cultivate the qi or life energy inside of us to flow powerfully and smoothly and throughout the body. Total harmony of the inner and outer self comes from the integration of mind and body, empowered through healthy qi through the practice of tai chi.
So how does one perform tai chi?
There is a lot of components to tai chi, much more than one can see, and it is almost impossible to describe such a complex art in one simple sentence. It can be a meditation and an integral exercise for all parts of the body and the mind. It brings tranquility and helps you think more clearly. Tai chi can be many things for different people; regular practice will bring better health and wellness. The flowing movements of tai chi contain much inner strength, like water flowing in a river, beneath the tranquil surface there is a current with immense power—the power for healing and wellness.
Many studies have shown tai chi to improve muscular strength, flexibility, fitness, improve immunity, relieve pain and improve quality of life. Muscle strength is important for supporting and protecting joints and is essential for normal physical function. Flexibility exercises enable people to move more easily, and facilitate circulation of body fluid and blood, which enhance healing. Fitness is important for overall functioning of the heart, lungs, and muscles. In addition to these components, tai chi movements emphasize weight transference to improve balance and prevent falls.
ONE THING I LEARNED TODAY:
I have had a bunch of rib injuries lately. Rib injuries are tough because there are no real muscle groups attaching to the ribs that we can help strengthen to give support. We can strengthen surrounding structures, but injured ribs whether broken or strained intercostal muscles, just kind of need to heal. I have found tai chi movements to at least be helpful in maintaining mobility and movement and prevent stiffness while you heal. Contact us for more information or let us know about your tai chi program!