|Tai chi for health & fitness
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The Okinawa Program was a 25 year study into longevity and healthy living. It led to other studies such as The Blue Zones, 50 Secrets of the World's Longest Living People and How Not To Die.
The three doctors who wrote The Okinawa Program maintain that tai chi - with its ancient origins and incredible health benefits - is the ideal form of exercise for modern people of all ages.
Simplified tai chi
Adapted from tai chi chuan, tai chi for health & fitness is a simplified, non-martial exercise suitable for most adults. It can be practiced by people of all ages and serves as a daily 'tonic'.
The training is intended to improve health and wellbeing through frequent, regular practice using low effort.
Tai chi exercise is known as one of the finest low-risk forms of physical
fitness. There are millions and millions people around the world who are
enjoying the significant health benefits of daily practice, helping to
reduce depression and promote the feeling of serenity. The happy result is
increased optimism and enhanced mental, physical and spiritual well-being.
(William CC Chen)
Tai chi involves simple movements, mild stretches and cooperative partner work. The onus is upon relaxation, balance, good poise and coordination.
Students learn how to move their body in a healthy, comfortable way without the risk of injury.
Tai chi was designed to gently renew and refresh your body on a daily basis. You unkink those unpleasant aches and pains, stiff muscles and sore joints.
You gently, softly encourage your body to move freely and comfortably. Instead of hammering and punishing your body, you treat it with respect and care. Your body must last you a lifetime.
The secret is to practice little and often.
Tai chi offers a balanced approach to the cultivation of health, vitality and wellbeing. There is no sweating, straining or panting for breath. There is gain without pain.
You can gently and gradually improve fitness without exertion; providing you practice between lessons.
Tai chi is often described as
"meditation in motion," but it might well be called "medication in motion."
There is growing evidence that this mind-body practice has value in treating
or preventing many health problems. And you can get started even if you
aren't in top shape or the best of health.
(Harvard Medical School’s Harvard Health Publication, May 2009)
Although many modern people seek to use tai chi as a means of curing illness, this is not where its strength lies. Tai chi is best employed whilst healthy, not sick.
When a healthy person does tai chi they are more apt to remain healthy. It takes far less effort to prevent something than to cure it...
Invest in your wellbeing
The benefits of tai chi are medically proven and long-lasting:
Enhanced sense of wellbeing
Learn how to chill out and have a laugh
Acquire a more light-hearted way of looking at life
Cultivate an unusual form of strength
Increased brain activity
Develop your memory skills
Improved joint function
Increased stamina and endurance
Release deeply-held muscular tension
Meditation & awareness
Learn to relax naturally
Improved poise and posture
Avoid strain, exertion and exaggeration
'Motor learning' - how we use our bodies, the way in which we move, the processes involved
Age with dignity and grace
Long held to be an excellent
tai chi may indeed be the
perfect exercise (Harvard Medical School).
Harvard Medical School reports that most tai chi trials last at least 12 weeks. They involve instruction once or twice a week supplemented with daily home practice.
By the end of the trial, most participants experienced an improvement in health. This highlights a major consideration for new starters; it can take some weeks for the health benefits to occur.
The Chinese exercise practice of tai chi can significantly boost the body's
immune system response to virus infection.
(ABC Science, regarding a University of California study)
Motor learning is about the process of using the body, rather than simply exercising the body.
Agility, mobility, relaxed spontaneous movement, balance, structure, alignment, biomechanics, efficiency, ambidextrous body use, joint health, coordination, skill, emotional wellbeing or psychological flexibility.
Tai chi combines exercise with motor learning.
Standing and walking
The tai chi exercises in our classes are performed standing up. None of our qigong or tai chi exercises are performed whilst sitting down.
Does tai chi involve physical contact?
Yes it does. Students explore qigong, form and partner work. Qigong and form are solo training methods.
Partner work involves training with other students. Physical contact is necessary in order to receive feedback (tense/relaxed/connected etc) and to practice the tai chi skills.
Qigong & tai chi
It is quite common to find tai chi people practicing qigong exercises. Qigong is usually a prominent feature in a tai chi class. A tai chi beginner is not adept with tai chi so they need to do a lot of qigong. Qigong provides the necessary fitness benefits by serving as a stopgap pending higher level tai chi skill.
Faced with a major health crisis, the People's Republic of China turned to the old Yang style tai chi for a solution. Just think about what that means...
Yang style tai chi's reputation for health was so well founded that the government of China thought to employ the art officially as a means of improving wellbeing.
It was simplified and adapted, then introduced to schools nationwide.
Tai chi frees the body and helps with relaxation and overall circulation.
It activates muscles, sinews and joints in the body. It strengthens physical power without stress.
It maintains youth and aliveness, and slows down the aging process through rejuvenation.
Tai chi calms and collects. It clears and sharpens the mind to help us in focusing and centering our daily activities.
When the body and mind move harmoniously together, the human spirit soars.
The ultimate benefit of tai chi is to experience living in a healthy, wide-awake state of being.
(Chungliang Al Huang)
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Page created 11 January 1993
Last updated 19 December 2023