The many benefits of Tai Chi

Life is temporary, yet we are living longer than our ancestors. In 1950, the average lifespan for men and women was 65 for men and 71 for women. Today we are living well into our 80’s and even 90’s. Science and technology have helped increase our life expectancy, but what about the Quality Of Life? Sure, we live longer, but what’s the point if your quality of life is poor? Can science and technology fix that? With the rise of opioid addiction, many are concerned about what they put into their bodies. They are looking for other alternatives to live a happy life. Tai Chi is a low-impact form of exercise that will improve your quality of life, both physically and mentally.

A Little History

Tai Chi’s (t’ai chi ch’üan,太极拳) exact origins are unknown and most theories are from legend.

Taoist monk Zang Sanfeng is credited with starting the ancient practice. It is a form of martial arts used for defense and health benefits in the 12th century. He either dreamt about or witnessed a fight between a snake and a crane in the Wu-dang Mountains.

Chen Wangting invented the modern-day Tai Chi form as a warrior and a scholar in the Ming Dynasty. In his retirement, Chen created a new form of martial arts based on the Chen family style. He then combined it with the study of Yi Jing, Chinese medicine, yin-yang theories, the five elements, the study and theory of Jingluo, and methods of Daoyin and Tuna.

Over the hundreds of years since its creation, modern Tai Chi is far from its origins. The Chen family-style is the closest to its original form.

Many Benefits

Tai Chi is also known as Meditation in Motion. This low-impact exercise can help calm your spirit while your body gently moves through each pose.

When done correctly, Tai Chi can help with many things.
Mental clarity.
An increase in your energy levels.
Relief of joint pain by decreasing inflammation.
Better sleep.

Researchers at Harvard Medical School have found that patients with chronic heart failure benefit from T’ai Chi. This “meditation in motion” helps keep the body active and limber. Calming the mind as you release tension from achy muscles.

The New England Journal of Medicine has also found that Tai Chi is very beneficial to Parkinson’s patients. Those who practice regularly have a substantially improved gate and posture, which leads to fewer falls. Fibromyalgia patients will find relief from joint pain as well. The smooth motions keep the joints moving without any heavy impact.

While Tai Chi and other forms of meditation and exercise can greatly improve your quality of life, it is not a cure-all for everything. Check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program and do your own research. There are plenty of gyms or martial arts center that will offer classes on Tai Chi. I recommend finding a program and taking a few classes to ensure you are getting the most out of this beneficial exercise for both mind and body.