What is Tai Chi?
“Meditation is a beautiful and powerful way to return to ourselves. When we return to the breath, we can focus our energy and realign with our truth.” Susan Bennett, LMHC
The world has known about martial arts through the movies of Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris decades ago. People became interested in learning karate and other forms of martial arts for self-defense, and they even enrolled their children in karate classes. That was how the Westerners influenced everyone in terms of how we should practice martial arts.
In the Eastern world, on the other hand, Asians have utilized martial arts in many different forms, such as in the practice called “Tai Chi”.
Tai chi is among the oldest methods in Chinese alternative medicine that has been utilized by almost everyone in China to achieve mental, physical and emotional wellness. It involves performing slow and gentle movements combined with proper breathing techniques to achieve peace of mind, heart, and soul. Its purpose is also for self-defense, but not through violence and haste. It practices total focus and concentration.
How does Tai chi Achieve Wellness?
Seasoned Tai chi masters are known to utilize a small amount of energy to push a much heavier force through full concentration and a steady flow of ‘qi’ or life energy. A smooth flow of life energy is the optimal priority of practicing Tai Chi. It is this energy that’s responsible for creating harmony within our bodies, thereby helping us achieve wellness. With regular practice, it can be an essential exercise for the body, mind, and heart.
According to Ray Blume, LMFT, “Tai Chi is a martial art form done the same way as Qi Gong and is not just exercise. It develops self-awareness, self-acceptance, and self –assertion through the flow of continuous movement. Both Tai Chi and Qi Gong improves coordination, harmony, and understanding and allows you to enjoy the freedom of experiencing the merging of the mind and body through the “felt sense.”
What are the Types of Tai Chi?
There are actually several ways of doing Tai Chi, but there are three major styles that are more commonly used, their names derived from their founding masters.
- The Chen style is done by doing slow, but explosive moves. It requires coordination of almost all body parts and is therefore not recommended for beginners because of reported injuries to the back and knees.
- The Yang style is the most popular one, although not the oldest. People you see in parks and other recreational places that are doing Tai chi in groups are usually doing the Yang style. The steps are gentle, consistent and easy enough for children, adults, and seniors to follow.
- The Wu style is a more recent style derived from Yang and is composed of about 100 movements, but can be done in 36 steps using its shorter version. Some people find Wu rather boring with much slower movements.
What are the Benefits of Tai Chi?
Here are some of the all-time benefits of Tai Chi for our mental, physical, and emotional well-being.
- Improves flexibility and muscular strength
- Relieves pain
- Reduces anxiety and depression
- Promotes normal blood circulation and speeds up the healing
- Strengthens joints and ligaments essential for optimal physical function
- Helps improve mental and emotional well being
- Tremendously decreases stress and tension levels
- Regulates blood pressure and helps maintain a healthy heart
Tai Chi goes far beyond physical and mental health. It is a fulfilling spiritual experience as well. The feeling of being free from stress, negativity, and physical ailments is more than enough to be grateful for this wonderful Asian healing method known as Tai Chi.
“Alternative healing modalities take into consideration a person’s body mind and spirit; modern medicine focuses on the body. Alternative healing modalities focus on the activity of healing, wellness and well being.” – Duane Bowers, LPC