Taichi brings the Zen back into life

We’ve been speaking a lot about Yoga and Pranayama and other ancient practices that result in a phenomenal health boost. It’s about time I add Tai Chi to the list.

Fitness and Health with Tai Chi
Elegant, Beautiful – Tai Chi

There’s likely very few martial arts practitioners who’re unaware of Tai Chi. It’s known as the “healing martial art” or even “meditation in motion”. Tai Chi is an elegant ‘slow moving’ technique martial art philosphy that releases the inner energies, strengthens the body, regulates heart rate and breathing.

There’s a lot of different ways to spell it – Tai Chi, Taichi, t’ai chi – etc. The way to pronounce/spell this is as varied and numerous as it’s global following 🙂

Harvard [1] has a lot to say on the subject:

Tai chi is often described as “meditation in motion,” but it might well be called “medication in motion.” There is growing evidence that this mind-body practice, which originated in China as a martial art, has value in treating or preventing many health problems. And you can get started even if you aren’t in top shape or the best of health.

They further go on to guide us in the basics of Tai Chi.

Tai chi in motion

A tai chi class might include these parts:

Warm-up. Easy motions, such as shoulder circles, turning the head from side to side, or rocking back and forth, help you to loosen your muscles and joints and focus on your breath and body.

Instruction and practice of tai chi forms. Short forms — forms are sets of movements — may include a dozen or fewer movements; long forms may include hundreds. Different styles require smaller or larger movements. A short form with smaller, slower movements is usually recommended at the beginning, especially if you’re older or not in good condition.

Qigong (or chi kung). Translated as “breath work” or “energy work,” this consists of a few minutes of gentle breathing sometimes combined with movement. The idea is to help relax the mind and mobilize the body’s energy. Qigong may be practiced standing, sitting, or lying down.

WebMD [2] has a lot to say on the subject too – Basically they explain how the Tai chi routines were not meant to burn calories or increase heart rate. They classify both “tai chi” and “qi gong” are martial arts – but admit that it’s more medical than ‘martial’ in nature – it helps your circulation, balance, and alignment. The focus of these activities is to restore your energy, called chi or qi (pronounced “chee” or “key”).

What Melinda Ratini, MD, Says:

Qi gong and tai chi are relaxing ways to improve your flexibility and balance. Both are great ways to stay active and vital.

The gentle, flowing movements are easy on the joints. But check with your doctor first if you have any conditions such as diabetes or circulation problems, or if you take any medications that can make you dizzy when you change positions.

Most people will also need to do some aerobic exercise, like walking, as well as additional strength building. Check with your doctor to see what type of well-rounded program is right for you.

These aren’t heart-pumping workouts. But even seasoned athletes have much to gain from a meditative, deliberate approach to movement.

That’s two of the world’s foremost authorities on Health and Research talking about how amazing Tai chi is. And what a long list of benefits it brings to us!

Areas It Targets

Tai Chi for wellness, health and energy
Tai Chi by the Beach

Core: Yes. You won’t be doing moves like crunches, but you’ll be using your core muscles as you flow from move to move.

Arms: Yes. Your arms are part of the movements in these gentle martial arts.

Legs: Yes. You do the movements standing up, so tai chi and qi gong do use your leg muscles, but not in an intense way.

Glutes: Yes. The exercises don’t include positions that specifically target the glutes, but those muscles will be working as you move.

Back: Yes. Tai chi and qi gong use your whole body, including the muscles in your back.

Type

Flexibility: Yes. The movements help improve flexibility.

Aerobic: No. These are moving meditations, not cardio workouts.

Strength: Yes. When you do qi gong and tai chi, you’re building strength in a subtle way. Your body weight is all you need. It’s not about powering through muscular poses, but about engaging your whole body.

Sport: No. It is not a sport.

Low-Impact: Yes. The gentle movements put minimal stress on the muscles and joints.

Isn’t it really interesting? I suggest checking out Cloud Water Tai Chi. We’re not affiliated with them; but their work in the area is really good.

Post Author: Chaitanya Dhareshwar

Chaitanya Dhareshwar is a director of the "Wellness Tree". He's been into holistic wellness since 2000.His experiences include Acupressure, Reiki, Naturopathy, Homeopathy, Weight Therapy, Diets and even Karate! Chaitanya practices Yoga and a Raw Diet consistently. Chaitanya's greatest wish is to bring wellness and good health back to this world.