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What Is Tai Chi And How Can It Benefit Our Health?

Nov 5, 2007
If you haven't heard of tai chi, it's not just a form of exercise. It's actually derived from martial arts. Done in a noncombat format, it utilizes a series of fluid physical movements that incorporate breathing and relaxation techniques. These movements are low impact and exhibit minimal pressure on joints, so tai chi is also well suited to those who may have physical limitations or disability, or need to minimize impact.

With its fluid and flowing movement, tai chi helps the user attain peace and tranquility. It is purported to connect the body with the universe, to heaven and earth. You can apply it therapeutically if you suffer stress, anxiety, insomnia or tension. Many studies have shown that if you practice it regularly, you can redirect or unblock the flow of "Chi," the vital energy and blood, which will enhance your overall well-being and health.

It focuses on interactions between body, mind and spirit. The intent is to use your mind in order to affect your physical well-being and promote health. Therefore, it is quite good for people who have chronic diseases, such as high blood pressure, fatigue, arthritis or balance and coordination problems. It can even help with cancer. Its movements are not strenuous, so it does not require that the user have special flexibility or physical strength.

Tai chi's origins are difficult to trace. Many scholars believe its roots date back roughly to about 200 B.C., when yoga was established as a practice in ancient India. as practiced in ancient India.

In about the 13th century, a revered Taoist monk, Chang Sang Feng, created a series of movements. This became the basis from which subsequent styles of tai chi would be developed. Later, it developed into many different styles of practice. The Chen style of practice and the Yang style are two of the most famous styles. Both are commonly practiced today.

Most tai chi masters prefer to practice it in the early morning, because the air is abundant and fresh. In China, it's a common event for people to gather in the park to practice it very early in the morning. According to the Chinese, the slow movements and breathing techniques cause the flow of Chi to occur in a balanced and flowing manner. The Chi circulates and helps unblock the meridians, which helps to reduce tension or pain and improve physical alignment while it builds strength, stability and endurance.

Because of this, many people practice tai chi to relieve stress and body aches. In addition, some studies show that it can help people attain greater balance and flexibility and improve heart and blood vessel function in both those who are healthy and those who have heart or circulatory conditions. Along with modern therapeutic principles, it can be used to create exercise plans specific to each individual, to accommodate any health problems or disabilities they may have.

The most common form of practice today is the Yang style. It includes these following forms:

The long form:

The long form has 108 movements that are divided into three stages. These movements are the basic principles of tai chi. They include smooth breathing rhythms, internal calmness, strength, flexibility, posture and alignment, concentration, and balance, among others.

The short form:

The short form is a simpler version of the long form and includes just 24 of the original 108 movements. It is less physically demanding than the long form, so that more people can utilize it, not just advanced practitioners. It is especially beneficial to older people and beginners. When this is done properly, the short form is as much benefit to the health as the long form is. Therefore, the short form is quite popular and practiced worldwide.

The sword form:

The sword form is comprised of 32 movements divided into four stages. These movements focus more on the hand positions when you hold an imaginary "sword" as though it is part of your fingers.

The "push hands" form:

This form is meant to be used by two partners together. It incorporates the movements of tai chi into both the offensive and defensive aspect of martial arts. It teaches students not to resist force with force, but instead to use the body to yield to force and then redirect it. This is a more appealing form for younger adults.

In short, tai chi is a form of martial arts that utilizes slow and gentle movements. If you practice it regularly, you can enhance your physical and emotional health, improve chronic illness, prevent disease, release stress, increase your energy, and improve the quality of sleep. To gain the full benefits, you have to practice it regularly. Regardless of your level of physical fitness, age or even health status, it's likely that there is a tai chi style appropriate to you.
About the Author
Kevin Sinclair is the publisher and editor of My-Personal-Growth.com, a site that provides information and articles for self improvement and personal growth and development.
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