This exercise could help you live healthier and for longer
08 Feb 2017
Tai chi is suitable for all ages and health conditions and can help maintain your strength, flexibility and overall balance.
This low-impact, slow-motion exercise takes you through a series of animal actions without pause. As you move you breathe deeply and naturally while focusing your attention on your body.
Tai chi differs from other forms of exercise because your muscles are relaxed rather than tensed, your joints are never fully extended or bent and connective tissues are not stretched. The movements in tai chi are usually circular and continuous.
Tai chi originated in China and is one of the most ancient eastern martial art traditions. Tai chi has evolved over time and has now become popular in the alleviation of stress and anxiety and many health concerns associated with age.
The founder of tai chi is believed to be Zhang Sanfeng, a 12th-century Taoist monk. Some stories claim that Zhang Sanfeng left his monastery to become a hermit and that he created his own form of fighting based on softness.
Sanfeng is reported to have said:
"In every movement, every part of the body must be light and agile and strung together. The postures should be without breaks. Motion should be rooted in the feet, released through the legs, directed by the waist and expressed by the fingers. Substantial and insubstantial movements must be clearly differentiated."
Tai Chi philosophy
You don't need to be a practising tai chi monk to enjoy the health benefits of this ancient martial art, but these concepts can help make sense of its approach:
Qi - an energy force thought to flow through the body; tai chi is said to unblock and encourage the proper flow of qi.
Yin and yang - opposing elements thought to make up the universe that needs to be kept in harmony. Tai chi is said to promote this balance.
Health benefits of tai chi
The health benefits of tai chi have been widely proclaimed and can include:
- Better mood; lowering levels of depression, stress and anxiety
- Increased aerobic capacity and muscle strength
- Improved energy and stamina
- Enhanced flexibility, balance and agility
- Decrease blood pressure
- Reduces inflammation
However, with all forms of exercise the results are individual and it's recommended you consult a medical professional before commencing an exercise regime.
Interested in learning more about tai chi? Take a look at Tai Chi for beginners run by Short Courses at CIT Solutions.