Chinese Exercise Therapy: Tai Chi

Tai Chi has become well-known in western society as a form of moving meditation with great health benefits and is widely practiced by millions worldwide. The origins of Tai Chi actually hold roots in the martial arts as Tai Chi (the English phonetic pronunciation of Taiji) comes from a system of martial arts known as Taiji Quan which translates to Supreme Ultimate Fist.

The abbreviated history of Taiji Quan sees the system being created by the Chen family and being passed down within that particular lineage for generations (with the noticeable exception of the Yang and Wu families that developed from Chen) until Chen Fake decided to test the family system of martial arts against other prominent systems. He changed the perception of Taiji Quan as a slow style by showing off the true strong and dynamic moves often found in the Chen style.

Fast forward a few years and after the cultural revolution occurred in China, the government decided to create a health program based upon the Taiji system while taking most of the martial arts out of it. It was decided the Yang style was most suitable for this and as such many forms (kata/taolu/sequence of techniques) were created and taught to the public which spreads internationally after China became less reclusive on the world stage between the late 1970s and early 1980s.

So what is the mechanism of therapeutic effect for Tai Chi?

When considering the underlying movements associated with Tai Chi, it can be seen that each technique is created in such a way that it stretches and moves the body in order to activate the acupuncture meridians on the body.

What this means is that Tai Chi helps with pain management because when movement occurs, stagnation and blockages cannot form and as discussed prior – blockages can be a major cause of disease in Chinese Medicine.

The breathing component of Tai Chi focuses on abdominal breathing. This form of breathing helps to:

  • Focus the mind through concentration on a single area
  • Strengthen the lungs as it causes full activation of the organ
  • Helps to relieve mental strain such as stress, depression and anxiety by entering the body into a state of calm

The scope of benefit for performing Tai Chi extends into the realm of cardiovascular health, psychological health, neurological health, autoimmune health and beyond. Our blog will regularly provide articles regarding research into these findings.

Tai Chi is gentle enough that anyone can start to learn it at any age or fitness level yet it develops into an activity that can maintain, strengthen and improve all aspects of your health depending on how dedicated you are to the practice. Contact us today to begin your journey toward better health.

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