If you’re looking for a way to reduce stress, consider tai chi (tie-chee). Originally developed for self defense, tai chi has evolved into a graceful form of exercise that is now used to reduce stress and a variety of other health conditions. Often described as moving meditation, tai chi promotes serenity through smooth, flowing movements.
what is tai chi?
tai chi is an ancient Chinese tradition that is practiced today as a graceful form of exercise. It consists of a series of movements performed slowly and concentrated and accompanied by deep breathing.
tai chi, also called tai chi chuan, is a non-competitive system of gentle physical exercise and stretching that is done at your own pace. each pose flows into the next without pause, ensuring your body is in constant motion.
tai chi has many different styles. each style can subtly emphasize various tai chi principles and methods. there are variations within each style. some styles may focus on health maintenance, while others focus on the martial arts aspect of tai chi.
tai chi is different from yoga, another type of meditative movement. yoga includes various physical postures and breathing techniques, along with meditation.
who can do tai chi?
Tai chi is low-impact and places minimal stress on muscles and joints, so it’s generally safe for all ages and fitness levels. In fact, because tai chi is a low-impact exercise, it may be especially suitable if you’re an older adult who might not otherwise be able to exercise.
You may also find tai chi appealing because it is inexpensive and requires no special equipment. you can do tai chi anywhere, even indoors or outdoors. and you can do tai chi alone or in a group class.
Although tai chi is generally safe, pregnant women or people with joint problems, back pain, fractures, severe osteoporosis, or hernia should consult their health care provider before trying tai chi. it may be recommended to modify or avoid certain postures.
why try tai chi?
When learned correctly and practiced regularly, tai chi can be a positive part of an overall approach to improving your health. benefits of tai chi may include:
- reduced stress, anxiety and depression
- better mood
- improved aerobic capacity
- increased energy and stamina
- improved flexibility, balance and agility
- improving muscle strength and definition
- improves sleep quality
- improve the immune system
- helps lower blood pressure
- improve joint pain
- improve symptoms of congestive heart failure
- improve general well-being
- reduce the risk of falls in older adults
More research is needed to determine the health benefits of tai chi. some evidence indicates that tai chi may also help:
how to start with tai chi
Although you can rent or purchase tai chi videos and books, consider seeking the guidance of a qualified tai chi instructor to reap the full benefits and learn the proper techniques.
You can find tai chi classes in many communities today. To find a class near you, contact local gyms, health clubs, and senior centers. Tai chi instructors do not have to be licensed or attend a standard training program. it’s a good idea to ask about an instructor’s training and experience and get recommendations if possible.
A tai chi instructor can teach you specific positions and breathing techniques. An instructor can also teach you how to practice tai chi safely, especially if you have injuries, chronic illnesses, or problems with balance or coordination. Although tai chi is slow and gentle, and usually has no negative side effects, it’s possible to injure yourself if you don’t use the proper techniques.
After learning tai chi, you may finally feel confident enough to practice tai chi on your own. but if you enjoy the social aspects of a class, consider continuing with group tai chi classes.
maintaining the benefits of tai chi
While you may get some benefit from a tai chi class that lasts 12 weeks or less, you may enjoy greater benefits if you continue with tai chi long-term and become more skilled.
You may find it helpful to practice tai chi in the same place and at the same time every day to develop a routine. but if your schedule is erratic, practice tai chi whenever you have a few minutes. You can even practice the calming mind-body concepts of tai chi without performing the actual movements when you’re in a stressful situation, like a traffic jam or a tense work meeting, for example.