Thinking of starting a Tai Chi practice? Well, this exercise form is one of the best ways to stay fit, add vigour, heal your lifestyle diseases and of course loose a few pounds. T’ai Chi, the 2000 year old practice or art form is a part of Chinese tradition, is an alternative to modern medicine. It is a system of exercises to facilitate the flow of chi through the body. The posture movements are inspired from the animal kingdom and is a form of martial arts, defence and attack. It is also called as meditation in motion or moving meditation. Tai chi meditation and practice is one of the most powerful ways to improve health and make a strong mind-body connection. In short Tai Chi may be the best exercise for the rest of your life!
Healing Powers & Staying Young With Tai Chi Tai Chi has a multitude of benefits for people across age groups, from kids, teenagers to mid age and senior citizens. Benefits from breast cancer prevention, pain relief, relieving stress / anxiety or depression, skin disorders, gastrointestinal disease, irritable bowel syndrome, asthma, headache, Parkinson’s, treating sleep disorders, high blood pressure, enhanced immune system, promotes balance, flexibility, regulate attention and memory; cardiovascular fitness, strengthen core and provides strength. Tai Chi is a one stop shop for most health troubles. No wonder, Chinese people have remedies for every ailment and are known to live longer.
Tai Chi expert Sandeep Desai, Sensei gives us a lowdown on Tai chi and its benefits for the young and old. Sandeep says, ‘Based on the Chinese philosophy of Ying and Yang, T’ai Chi is a meditative internal martial-art and health exercise. Many recognize it as the ‘fountain of youth’ as it slows down the process of aging. The regular practice of T’ai Chi offers a multitude of benefits. Some of the benefits include: improved balance, coordination and reflexes; self-defence; limitless energy; deep physical relaxation; heightened awareness of self and your surrounding; patience; stronger bones, muscles and organs; renewed harmony with nature. T’ai Chi has been shown to have powerful effects on a variety of ailments, from arthritis to heart problems, diabetes (type 2), bone loss and aging.
The most remarkable thing about T’ai Chi is that, because its different aspects appeal to different types of people, ultimately it appeals to and benefits in the society. T’ai Chi provides amazing benefits to your health and well-being , whether you are an athlete wanting higher performance or an executive suffering for Carpal tunnel syndrome or a senior with high blood pressure or arthritis. Here is how T’ai Chi can benefit different group of people.
T’ai Chi for the Young
Since T’ai Chi cultivates self control and self discipline it offers healthy solutions to many challenges that children face growing up today. Tremendous physical education benefits accrue if T’ai Chi is started at an early age. Through T’ai Chi, youngsters learn healthy postural habits and overall physical development, which helps them attain, optimum mental and physical performance.
T’ai Chi not only provides them with practical skills to relax physical, emotional, or mental tension but also keeps them from over indulging in various forms of passive activities, such as playing computer games and watching television. In addition to increasing their mind body co-ordination, T’ai Chi develops mental concentration and the ability to focus.
T’ai Chi for People in their Late Teens, Twenties and Early Thirties
Stress is an unavoidable part of life but if it goes unmanaged for an extended period of time it can make one age faster than his or her chronological years. T’ai Chi reduces stress from the nerves and mind through an exceptionally sophisticated therapeutic series of movements. Most youngsters experience massive hormonal swings, which can make them turn to tranquilizers, sleeping pills, alcohol, and smoking in a vain attempt to cope. T’ai Chi can be an island in the storm. You can’t do T’ai Chi and stay stressed out. T’ai Chi provides the perfect outlet for the accumulated frustrations, anxieties and tensions of everyday living. The meditative, repetitive, and awareness movements bring on a sense of calm, peace and mental clarity that can positively affect everything in life. With more awareness of body and mind comes also a higher energy level. The energy you gain is vibrant and alive, not like the burst you may get from the likes of caffeine or sugar.
T’ai Chi for People Who Work
The largest component of the work force comprises people between their late thirties and fifties. During midlife the pressure is on. Working, social, and family responsibilities rise year after year. If your health or strength weakens there are often younger people in line trying to get promoted over you, or take your job.
T’ai Chi gives you a much-needed competitive edge. It increases your capacity to withstand ever- increasing pressure gracefully. It boosts both physical and mental stamina, and helps you to relax more easily and recover from stress. It leaves you in better shape after the job is over so you can enjoy your time off, rather than merely recuperate.
T’ai Chi for Senior Citizens
Besides reducing or eliminating pain in all normal activities and reducing stress, practicing T’ai Chi has many practical benefits for the old people. It can give you better balance, which will help reduce the fear of falling; improve leg strength to help you get in and out of chairs more easily; and provide the grip strength to securely hold a plate or cup. All of these abilities, which may seem trivial to a young person, make the difference much later in life between being functionally independent or feeling helpless.
Tai Chi Moves
1. Warm up your body prior to your Tai Chi practice. Helps opens up your body, gives a relaxed attitude and promotes a state of well-being. You can do waist loosening exercise by standing with your feet parallel and little wider than hip-width distance apart. Relax your arms by your sides. Rotate your hips to the right direction and then the left, allowing your arms to track the movement of your body. Let your arms hang loose and fold against your body as you rotate. After the body warm up, include your neck, shoulders and spine in the rotations, making each movement smooth and fluid.
2. Next comes the windmill exercise is one of the basic Tai Chi movements for promoting flexibility and opening up your spine. Stand with your feet parallel and slightly wider than shoulder-width distance apart. Relax your shoulders and let your arms hang loosely. Bring your hands in front of your body, fingers pointing down toward the floor. Inhale and raise your arms up and over your head, with fingers pointing up. Exhale and slowly bend to the floor, moving your hands down the center of your body. Inhale and return to your starting point. Knee rolls enhances flexibility in your spine and knees and enhances balance.
Try this by standing with your feet apart and your knees bent a little. Place your hands on your knees and fingers pointing toward each other. Rotate your knees in a circle, rolling from the left, back, right and front, as though you are tracing a large circle on the floor with your knees. Perform the circular motion in clockwise, then counter-clockwise, directions.
The Tai Chi hand exercises help open up your hands and promote flexibility in your shoulders, arms and fingers. Stand with your feet a bit wider than shoulder-width distance apart. Raise your arms straight out in front of you, parallel to the floor at shoulder height. Stretch your hands as wide as possible then rotate your wrists in a clockwise and anti-clockwise manner.
The Tai Chi closing posture is done at the end of the practice to balance your energy and promote feelings of relaxation. Stand with your feet hip-width distance apart, relax your shoulders and bring your hands in a cupped-position with your palms facing up. Close your eyes, inhale and focus on pulling your energy upward as your bring your hands up to your chest. Exhale and rotate your hands with your palms facing down. It is like pushing your energy down with your hands toward the floor. Repeat a few counts.