In simple terms, Tai Chi is a form of martial arts with its origin in China. The Western world understands martial arts as kicking, fighting, punching and body contact. Opposed to this Tai Chi emphasizes on rhythmic, slow and meditative movements of the body focusing on enhanced inner calm, relaxation, and peace. Let us now turn to what Tai Chi is and how it can benefit you.
Some records put the origin of Tai Chi at about 2,500 years on the Chinese soil and is believed to have stemmed from Chinese medicine. In modern times, when you notice people gracefully moving in nearly every Chinese park and throughout most of the Western world, you should know that they are in fact practicing the art of tai chi Tai Chi is also reckoned as a descendant of Quigong which is another ancient discipline of Chinese origin.
Tai Chi is also known for the series of meditative and slow body movements, designed originally for self defense and promoting inner peace. The subtle movements draw from internal energy and attackers are effortlessly floored even before the onlookers or the attacker himself realizes what happened. A person with fully developed Tai Chi skills can use very little energy, say 4 ounces for neutralizing several pounds of force from the attacker.
Fire, air, sky, water and earth are the 5 elements on which the Indian system of Ayurveda is based. Likewise Tai Chi reckons water, fire, metal, earth and wood as the 5 elements providing intrinsic energy to the body. Both these systems regard that perfect harmony between the 5 elements ushers in good health.
There are number of benefits that Tai Chi promises, but the highlights are:
The Chinese people believe that tai chi brings several health benefits including increased flexibility, stronger tendons and muscles, help in treatment of arthritis, high BP, heart diseases, cancer, depression, skin diseases, digestive disorders, and many more illnesses. However, scientific evidence supporting these claims is lean.
The following are some of the conditions in which Tai Chi can be helpful
- Reducing depression, anxiety and stress
- Improving moods
- Increasing stamina and energy
- Improving agility, balance and flexibility
- Improving muscle definition and strength
Like in most other forms of physical exercises, practicing Tai Chi solely with the help of tutorials or videos is not advised. Similarly caution is also advised in choosing the right teacher, warming up before the start of a session, cooling off, modifying movements with care, and avoiding a competitive attitude.
There have been no known negative side effects from practicing Tai Chi though the positive side effects are plenty.
Science and research
According to nccih.nih.gov, Tai Chi appeared safe for practicing and a review supported by this body has noted this practice as unlikely to lead to serious injury though minor pains and aches could be associated with it. In the same report, pregnant women have been advised to talk to their doctor before embarking on tai chi and similar programs. In another report carried in the Harvard magazine, about 3 million people are said to be practicing Tai chi in US alone.