Can I do Tai Chi?

Overview

A technique that integrates body, mind, and spirit, martial art (pronounced tie-chee ) has been practiced for hundreds of years in China . Tai chi means that “grand ultimate” and implies “the balance of opposing forces of nature.” the standard coaching is meant to show awareness of one’s own balance, each physical and mental.

Tai chi, also known as t’ai chi ch’uan, began as a martial art, but today it’s most frequently practiced for its health benefits and meditative properties. It has become standard|a well-liked|a preferred} exercise for variant Chinese and is particularly popular among older individuals.

Tai chi was introduced to the United States in the mid 1960s. Now it’s hard to find an exercise center that doesn’t offer classes. People everywhere the globe follow martial art each day. According to a 2007 National Health Survey, about 2.3 million Americans had practiced tai chi in the preceding 12 months.

Tai chi is performed as a series of slow, graceful, controlled body movements while your body remains straight and upright. It includes stepping, shifting weight and rotating. Throughout the session, your breathing becomes deep, yet relaxed. Tai chi movements are compared to those performed in yoga and ballet.

Stories abound about the origins of tai chi. According to one among the foremost fashionable legends, tai chi’s motions area unit supported those of a snake. A martial arts master named Yangtze River San-feng unreal a couple of battle between a snake and a crane throughout that he noted the snake’s swish fighting movements. Those movements impressed the event of the noncombative type of martial art.

Tai chi is a low-impact activity. One key principle (which comes from Taoism) is wu-wei(or the action of nonaction), which refers to going with the flow—not forcing things.

Like treatment, tai chi is based on the concept of chi (pronounced chee), the vital life energy that sustains health and calms the mind. Chi courses through your body through specific pathways or meridians. The traditional clarification is that the follow of martial art improves health by rising the flow of chi, thereby restoring energy balance.

Chi should flow freely permanently health; blocked chi will cause health problem or malady. All varieties of ancient Chinese medication (TCM) aim to revive energy balance and conserve the body’s chi or life vitality. This health system includes the practices of treatment, massage, flavourer medication and tai chi’s sister healing art, qigong(pronounced chee gong ).

Modern researchers area unit finding wonderful health edges from martial art. Regular follow builds strength, enhances tonicity and circulation and improves balance,flexibility, posture, coordination and range of motion. Some studies conjointly show that martial art will lower vital sign and vital sign, additionally as ease inflammatory disease pain. It may facilitate stop pathology, making it particularly beneficial to women, and reduce the incidence of falls. In addition, tai chi reduces stress, improves concentration and increases energy.

Unlike many varieties of exercise, martial art is accessible to individuals of any age and condition—children, senior citizens and even people who use walkers. It needs no special garments or instrumentality, and it can easily be practiced at home. Some changed varieties of martial art will be practiced by people with restricted quality. In fact, martial art is especially helpful to the aged and folks with impaired motor skills. Because martial art emphasizes correct posture and balance, the exercise may be a safer alternative for women with frail bones than other physical activities.

Medical science remains unclear regarding precisely however martial art works. While many studies have documented its edges, none have fully explained why or however it works—at least within the context of Western medication. But there are theories. While traditional practitioners might attribute the health benefits to the free flow of chi, Western-world scientific research into tai chi is finding other possible explanations for its beneficial effects. For instance:

  • Deep breathing promotes relaxation, stress reduction and concentration.
  • Focused attention not only relaxes the body and mind, it helps cultivate mental alertness.
  • The exercises strengthen muscles and bones (For instance, as a weight-bearing exercise that requires you to support your weight while standing, tai chi is a good preventive measure for osteoporosis.)
  • Since most of the movements involve alternating weight-bearing in the legs, tai chi helps cultivate better balance by improving coordination and control of the body during movements.

Anyone can benefit from tai chi—like most low-impact exercises, it can be an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Tai chi isn’t a treatment or a cure, but health care professionals often suggest it as a complementary therapy for many conditions.

Few randomized controlled studies (the scientific standard for determining treatment efficacy) have so far been conducted to establish the direct medical benefits of tai chi, but some preliminary studies suggest that tai chi can help relieve the symptoms of or prevent certain conditions. Tai chi is considered useful in:

  • Reducing the risk of falls in the elderly by improving balance and strength as well as confidence.
  • Improving cardiopulmonary function.
  • Reducing blood pressure.
  • Reducing stress.
  • Helping to strengthen the muscles around an arthritic joint, improving flexibility and range of motion while reducing joint pain. Stronger muscles also help protect the joint from soft tissue injuries.
  • Easing back pain by improving flexibility.
  • Slowing the decline in respiratory function, often a concern among the elderly. Plus, the regular exercise afforded by the practice—comparable to a low-impact aerobicworkout—provides cardiorespiratory conditioning.
  • Stimulating circulation, improving blood flow to the extremities and its return to the heart.
  • Improving health-related quality of life in the elderly.
  • Helping speed recovery after a heart attack. Tai chi is sometimes used as an adjunct therapy in cardiac rehabilitation. One reason for its benefit may be its ability to reduce blood pressure and heart rate.
  • Helping people with multiple sclerosis increase their physical activity and functioning by enhancing muscle tone, flexibility, coordination and general well-being. Some chapters of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society now offer tai chi classes.
  • Helping to slow or prevent bone loss since it’s a weight-bearing exercise.
  • Reducing the amount of stress hormones in the body.
  • Improving glucose control in people with type 2 diabetes.

It’s important to remember, however, that although tai chi may help prevent and manage a number of conditions, it isn’t a cure for everything. You need to continue seeing your regular health care skilled for any underlying health issues. And always check with your health care professional before beginning a new exercise plan.

Treatment

If you’re new to tai chi, it’s best to start with a class, although you’ll still need to practice the exercises on your own. A daily observe of fifteen to twenty minutes looks to be the ideal; several t’ai chi masters advise active upon arousal and before getting to sleep.

But alternative configurations—such as half-hour each day fourfold a week—also yield edges. The key is to do it regularly. All you would like to try and do t’ai chi may be a few feet of house with a flat surface, snug garments and a commitment. You may not see immediate results, however; it may take many weeks of observe before you begin to note changes in your health.

Finding an Instructor

Tai chi academics aren’t essentially medical professionals, and that they don’t have to be compelled to be commissioned, but it is important to find a certified teacher who can reflect his or her experience in the practice. The American Tai Chi and Qiqong Association has a searchable database of its members at http://www.americantaichi.org/.

You shouldn’t have much trouble finding classes. Your local recreation center, YMCA/YWCA or martial arts school can probably point you in the right direction. If you have multiple sclerosis or arthritis, your local association may sponsor classes at a reduced rate. And some cities have tai chi schools. Finally, your health care skilled could also be able to provide some suggestions.

A variety of designs or faculties of t’ai chi have evolved, reflective each growth and development of the shape normally also as variations of favor among totally different academics. Elements from alternative martial arts forms have influenced t’ai chi, and this has changed its character as well.

Most of the styles or schools of tai chi have been given the surnames of their founders. There are many styles that exist today, the most popular being:

  • Yang Style
  • Chen Style
  • Sun Style
  • Wu Style

Before you sign up for a class (many run in eight- to 10-week sessions lasting one hour each), you may want to sit in on a session or two to make sure you will be comfortable. Consider class size, the instructor’s relationship with the pupils and the level of mastery the class seems to show. If you favor one-on-one categories, individual training often is available. Prices vary widely.

The First Class

After a prolusion, your instructor will teach you the various movements involved in tai chi. You’ll move slowly and gracefully, and your instructor will help you with the deep, relaxed breathing.

The movements or positions have names like Pay Respect to Buddha, Grasp the Bird’s Tail, Carry Tiger to the Mountain and White Crane Spreads Wings. Each sequence involves a series of positions that flow into one fluid set pattern or form with a defined beginning and end. A single form includes many positions; each form generally takes a few minutes to complete. It may be hard to remember all the movements at first but, with practice, you will catch on. You learn through repetition.

In a class, you may perform several forms or just one. You may start out in a basic position: feet parallel and shoulder-width apart, knees bent slightly, head slightly lifted, spine straight and arms loosely at your sides. Motions typically begin at the waist; your focus can stay therein general section, too. The area of the body settled concerning 2 inches below the navel is thought as your lower tan tien, your center of movement. In Chinese medication, it’s considered the center of the body’s chi. And respiratory is a very important a part of t’ai chi. Your teacher will coach you: Don’t hold your breath!

You won’t undergo a strenuous workout in a tai chi class—it won’t be like aerobics, for instance. It’s often been compared to slow, controlled dancing—along the lines of ballet. When you finish, you won’t feel exhausted, and unless it’s hot, you may not even perspire. You shouldn’t feel sore—if you do, chances are you aren’t doing it right. Talk to your instructor about your technique.

There are not any unwell effects to t’ai chi, so it can be an enhancement to any regular exercise regimen. And it shouldn’t interfere with any medications or medical treatments. As mentioned earlier, however, it’s always advisable to check with your health care provider before embarking on any exercise program, particularly if you are out of shape, over 65 or have serious health problems. Also keep in mind to tell your t’ai chi teacher if you have got a medical condition or square measure underneath a health care professional’s treatment.

Facts to Know

  1. While you can buy books and videos about tai chi, the best way to learn is to attend a class and receive instruction first-hand from a certified instructor.
  2. Tai chi is particularly beneficial to women because it can help prevent osteoporosis and ease the symptoms of fibromyalgia and multiple sclerosis, all of which strike more women than men.
  3. Ideally, tai chi should be practiced every day, or at the least, four times a week.
  4. Several studies show that tai chi enhances balance and reduces the risk of falls among the elderly.
  5. Medical science remains unclear about how tai chi works, but studies performed in the United States and abroad demonstrate that it has practical health benefits.
  6. Tai chi can lower blood pressure and heart rate.
  7. Tai chi movements are taught step by step; eventually, all the steps become one continuous sequence or form.
  8. You may need to practice tai chi regularly for weeks before you see the health benefits. Daily practice is recommended.
  9. Tai chi and qigong are both modalities for health and healing from traditional Chinese culture.
  10. Tai chi is based on the concept of chi, the vital life energy that sustains health and calms the mind.

Key Q&A

  1. My legs are weak, and I sometimes use a wheel chair. Can I do Tai Chi?Yes, but first check with your health care professional. You’ll be able to do all the upper body movements, and some of the leg motions can be adapted.
  2. Tai Chi seems so relaxing. Is it really a martial art?Yes. There are two basic types of martial arts: the hard martial arts and the soft (or internal) martial arts. The former includes karate and tae kwon do. Tai chi is a soft one, emphasizing relaxation—for many, it is a form of meditation. Nevertheless, tai chi movements, like those of other martial arts, are executed with careful precision and grace.
  3. Since practicing Tai Chi, my blood pressure has gone down. Can I go off my medicine?That’s something to ask your health care professional. Generally, though, tai chi is considered an adjunct therapy—one that works best in partnership with other approaches. Make sure you tell your health care professional if you are planning to try tai chi.
  4. My arthritis makes exercise painful. Why should I try Tai Chi?People with painful, stiff joints usually want to avoid exercise. But exercise actually keeps bones, muscles and joints healthy and as strong as possible. Tai chi is gentler than most exercises and can be modified to fit your special needs. Tai chi also helps strengthen the muscles around an arthritic joint, improves flexibility and increases range of motion; it may relieve some of your joint pain.
  5. If Tai Chi is rooted in Taoism, does that make it a religious practice?No. Tai chi is part of Taoism, a “natural science” rather than a religion. It is therefore compatible with any and all religions.