The Tai Chi model is based on the premise that there is a bio energy system in the body. Its principal action is done through correct flowing movement and breathing, executed with concentration and mental focus, like moving meditation.
The bio energy or Qi gets carried round the body in energy channels called meridians - a bit like the way the veins carry blood around the body. Interrupted, weak or blocked flow of Qi causes illness.
The core training of Tai Chi involves two primary features: The first being the solo form, a slow sequence of movements which emphasize a straight spine, abdominal breathing and a natural range of motion. The second being different styles of pushing hands for training movement principles of the form with a partner and in a more practical manner.
Involving a pure health emphasis, Tai Chi practice have become a popular choice in hospitals, clinics, community and senior centers in the last twenty years, as baby boomers age and the art's reputation as a low stress training for seniors became better known.
As a result of this popularity, there has been some divergence between those who say they practice Tai Chi primarily for self-defense, those who practice it for its aesthetic appeal, and those who are more interested in its benefits to physical and mental health.
Traditional stylists believe the two aspects of health and martial arts are equally necessary: the yin and yang of Tai Chi Chuan. The TaiCchi "family" schools therefore still present their teachings in a martial art context, whatever the intention of their students in studying the art.
Before the formation of existence as we know it, according to the ancient Daoist theory, first there was Wu Chi and suddenly, for some reason, Tai Chi appears. Tai Chi consists of two parts— the polar opposites of Yin and Yang; Up and down, in and out, black and white, male and female, night and day, hot and cold, etc. Out of these two extremes, Yin and Yang, spring everything in existence. Between black and white lie all the colors of the rainbow. Between hot and cold are all possible temperatures.
The physical emphasis on correct body posture and spinal alignment while practicing Tai Chi releases tension and pressure caused by slumping.
Improved posture improves the digestive system and removes stress from the back.
The flowing movements of a typical tai chi routine disguise the incredibly high number of joint rotations that are being used. The neck will move from side to side, palms will turn over, elbows and shoulders will rotate all increasing flexibility and range of motion of the joints. At the same time the muscles, ligaments and tendons that protect and support the joints are being strengthened which keeps them mobile and healthy. All this while you are simply enjoying doing your Tai Chi exercises.
- Stress Reduction: in Tai Chi one uses a process of relaxing muscular tensions, improving posture, and a deepening of the breathing process to affect in a positive way the stress levels of the mind and emotions.
- Arthritis & Rheumatism: Tai Chi practice supports the improvement of circulation due to a strengthening and expanding of range of movement of the joints, especially those of the ankles and hips.
- Back Problems: The intention of Tai Chi is to learn to move the trunk as a whole from the pelvis, without twisting, therefore eliminating much of the cause of lower back stress and discomfort.
- Balance Improvement: In Tai Chi one imagines a perfect plumb line descending from the heavens, entering into the crown of the head, continuing down through the trunk, exiting the pelvic floor and going into the earth. This is the guideline for the upper body's contribution towards good balance.
- Athletic Performance: In Tai Chi, all movement, be it a golf swing or a skier gliding down a mountain slope, is an expression of body principles. Regardless of the specifics of the particular sport, all athletics require a good sense of balance, coordination, and, surprisingly to some, relaxation, which in Tai Chi is defined as being free to move.
- Weight Management: Managing one's weight has many contributors: Diet, exercise, self-esteem, metabolic rate, and toxicity. They all are important elements of the overall program. Tai Chi, with its gentle yet effective approach, works on all of them.
For free online Tai Chi Chuan courses, visit the Gilman Studio Online where you learn the Yang style form of Tai Chi.
- Tai chi: An effective alternative exercise; Pennington, LD
- Changes in Heart Rate, Noradrenaline, Cortisol and Mood During Tai Chi training; Jin, P
- The Journal of Traditional Eastern Health and Fitness; Yip, Y. L.
- T'ai Chi Ch'uan; Ron Perfetti
- Tai Chi benefits; Everyday Tai Chi
- American Tai Chi and Qigong Association; The National Library of Medicine
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