What is Tai Chi?

What are the Known Benefits of Tai Chi?
What is Tai Chi?

Tai chi (pronounced "tie chee"; commonly spelled T’ai chi chuan, Tai chi chuan, Taiji, etc.) is a slow movement meditative exercise or practice that coordinates the breath and visualization with slow and controlled movement to integrate the mind/body/spirit connection. It originated in Ancient China as a martial art and has evolved to become a meditation, physical exercise and spiritual practice.

There are many layers and depths of tai chi (i.e. yin/yang, song, jing, chen, etc.) and their understanding comes more and more with time and practice. The philosophy of tai chi involves incorporating the concepts of the Tao into everyday life, finding your inner balance and harmony within yourself and the relationship to everything and everyone around you.
What are the Benefits of Tai Chi?

The underlying benefit of tai chi practice is generating the flow of “qi” (pronounced “chee”) or internal energy/breath/power. The movements within the form(s) along with deliberate control of weight shifting, the turning of the waist, coordinating the upper and lower body, breathing and visualization all generate and stimulate the flow of energy and circulation. Practice also transitions us into parasympathetic mode, the state when our nervous system is in the relax, restore and digest phase, easing stress and anxiety while calming the mind, grounding the body, enhancing the senses and increasing alertness and focus.

Here are some of the endless health benefits of increasing our qi through Tai chi and/or Qigong practice:

*Stimulate the lymphatic and immune systems
*Massage, stimulate and improve organ functions
*Strengthen bones, joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments
*Increase synovial fluids in the joints and bone marrow production
*Improve balance, coordination, flexibility and range of motion (this is especially important for fall prevention in the elderly population)
*Encourage the production of our feel-good hormones such as serotonin and oxytocin, bringing wonderfully uplifting yet tranquil feelings
*Increase mental alertness, focus and clarity
*Reduce cortisol and other stress hormones to prevent and ease stress and anxiety
*Regulate natural sleep patterns and restore energy levels
*Gently support pain, tension, arthritis and recovery from injuries/surgery
*Release pain and trauma (emotional or physical) from a place of love and compassion
*Increase oxygen delivery throughout the cells of the body
*Receive other mind-body-spirit benefits of meditation and deep breathing

Tai chi can be many things for different people, yet we can rely on this practice to balance our energy and do what we need in that moment to be in balance. If we need an energetic and mental boost while maintaining the sense of being grounded and interconnected, we can get those benefits from Tai chi. If we need to relax and ground ourselves from everyday stress, anxiety, pain and trauma, then we can find balance and comfort in our practice.
As we delve deeper into our body, mind, heart and spirit, we get the incredible opportunity for self-discovery and self-exploration, delving into our inner layers, peeling one at a time, reveling more of our ‘true’ or innate selves. Tai chi as a regular practice is a wonderful and inspiring self-journey of a life time and it is never too late to start.

Photo's accredited to Britany Villiados at Villiados Photography