Tai Chi Benefits
The Way Tai Chi System
Tai Chi is a way of being.
Being soft, yet strong.
Tai Chi is a way of breathing.
Breathing deeply, yet calmly.
Tai Chi is a way of standing.
Alert, yet relaxed.
Tai Chi is true self-defense…
Be it illness, gravity, or assailant.
Tai Chi Benefits for Health: Feel More Alive
More restful sleep, deeper breathing, improved balance and increased flexibility…The list of tai chi benefits for health goes on and on. It even includes better sex.
If you've heard enough to start practicing tai chi, visit this link information on how to get started.
Otherwise, keep reading for more details on how a tai chi practice can benefit your health.
Simply Relax Through Tai Chi. Tai chi offers a way to truly relax. The rhythms of bending and stretching in tai chi help to relax the body and to free it from mental and physical tension and stress.
Tai Chi Reduces Tension. Tension is the opposite of relaxation. With tension, the body becomes constricted and cannot move freely or function efficiently.
With high levels of stress and tension over long periods of time, the body becomes weakened and more susceptible to disease and death.
Use tai chi to reduce tension and stress in your life, and enjoy a healthier and more energetic life.
Here’re some specific health benefits that tai chi practitioners can experience.
Alleviate hypertension through tai chi. High blood pressure is a condition which affects 1 out of 3 adults. High blood pressure is associated with higher risk of heart attacks and stroke, as well as other organ failures.
Also known as hypertension, it’s essentially a condition of overstressed blood vessels. The blood vessels have lost some of their elasticity and are no longer able to effectively transport oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. In turn, this requires the heart to work harder, creating a strain on the heart muscles.
Tai chi helps to improve blood flow by increasing the ability of blood vessels to expand and to contract. Tai chi has been shown in numerous medical studies to reduce high blood pressure—thereby also reducing the risk of heart attacks, stroke, and kidney failure.
Tai chi increases the blood flow. Tai chi practitioners often feel quite warm during and after a practice session—a natural result of increased blood flow as well as increased qi or life force energy.
Tai chi helps the joints and mobility. This increase in blood flow can be especially important for the hands and feet. Poor circulation to the extremities may be evidenced by habitually cold hands and feet. Some suffer from stiffness and pain in these areas from arthritis and other degenerative diseases. Others have damaged these areas through over-use, as seen in computer users and dancers, among others.
Tai chi brings blood, warmth and qi to the throughout the body and helps to lubricate the joints--making movements easier and increasing the range of motion in the joints, even in the areas farthest from the heart.
Tai chi strengthens the immune system. Tai chi not only increases blood flow, tai chi increases the flow of all body fluids, including the lymph. This is a fluid in the body responsible for transporting immune system cells where needed. Unlike blood, which is pumped by the heart, lymph flow is entirely dependent on body movements and contractions of the muscles surrounding the lymph system.
Because tai chi creates stretching--not only in the large muscles of the body, but even the smallest--lymph flow and also the body’s immune response is helped through tai chi. And with a stronger immune system bolstered through tai chi, you’re less likely to come down with colds, flus, and other infections.
Tai chi helps with balance and coordination. Tai chi is about grounding, both physically and mentally. Through the slow movements of tai chi, one learns to sink one’s energy downward to remain balanced and grounded, even when standing on only one leg or in other potentially stressful situations.
Less Fear of Falling. Tai chi has been shown to not only improve balance, it also reduces people’s fears of falling and helps them to make speedier recoveries after a balance mishap (saving them from falling). With greater confidence, along with better coordination and reaction times, tai chi practitioners are less likely to fall and to suffer injuries from a fall.
Tai chi helps with mental clarity. In addition to helping with physical balance and grounding, tai chi helps practitioners to be mentally grounded as well. The downward dropping of energy moves energy out of the head and makes it available for use in other parts of the body. At the same time, there is less energy to feed worries, nonsensical thoughts, and even headaches.
Medical studies have shown that tai chi can help practitioners experience less frequent and less severe tension headaches.
More Calmness and Creativity. In fact, practitioners report more mental space to focus or for creative endeavors. Tai chi practitioners also experience improved psychological well-being and mental calmness.
Deeper Sleep. With this greater peace of mind, they are also able to fall asleep faster, and to enjoy deeper, more regenerative sleep.
Health benefits for all. Everyone--from young athletes to the elderly with mobility problems--can reap the health benefits from practicing tai chi.
And the health benefits of tai chi are many. They've been documented in numerous medical studies in the U.S., China, as well as other countries.
Tai Chi Benefits for Stress Management: Relax Your Nerves, Body, Mind, and Emotions
So much to do, so little time. Whether it’s stress from work, housekeeping, preparing taxes, or from any other source, most of us know about stress—too well, in fact.
Western doctors consider stress and stress-related illnesses as “the number one killer” today. Stress can trigger heart attacks and strokes, and has also been linked to diabetes, high blood pressure, a weaker immune system, ulcers, and infertility.
The list of stress-related illnesses goes on, but that’s long enough to emphasize the importance of reducing stress. And, as you probably already know, tai chi benefits for stress management are huge.
Reduce stress through tai chi. Tai chi is all about relaxation—the antidote to stress. Tai chi works through:
• Physical relaxation
• Relaxing the nervous system
• Emotional relaxation
• Mental relaxation
• Stress reduction
Tai chi promotes physical relaxation. The circular and sometimes odd movements of tai chi will stretch, rotate, and twist the muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
With the variety of movements within a form, almost all of the muscles, joints, and soft tissues will be gently stretched and then released. This stretching and release happens repeatedly throughout the tai chi form.
Gentle, slow stretching releases tension in the body. Over time, you’ll develop the awareness to feel the presence and then the release of tension in the body.
This awareness is a useful skill which can also help outside of your tai chi practice. Once you’ve noticed tension build-up in certain spots in your body, you can take steps to reduce it, even before your tai chi workout.
For example, if you start to feel tension build-up in your body, try to relax those areas. Don’t wait for your tai chi practice to relax and to drop your shoulders , unclench your jaw, or to massage tired eyes.
Tai chi relaxes your nerves. Tai chi practitioners actively relax their nerves, which allows for greater muscular relaxation. With more tai chi practice, your nervous system becomes stronger and runs more smoothly, making it easier to generate speed and power both within and outside of your tai chi form.
Tai chi promotes emotional relaxation. Negative emotions and energies can get trapped within the body. Relaxation of physical tension allows for the release of emotional tension as well.
You can test this the next time you’re feeling particularly stressed. Instead of holding the tension in your face, burst out with a smile. Just a few seconds will be enough. Many who do this find that they feel lighter and happier afterwards.
A tai chi practice session works in a similar way, by breaking up tension in the body and helping the body to feel rounder, fuller and more relaxed. This enables practitioners to feel emotionally relaxed as well—feelings which can linger long after your actual tai chi workout.
Tai chi promotes mental relaxation. Tai chi is about being in the flow of the movement. When practicing tai chi, the focus is on the present move, rather than the upcoming moves of the future, or the completed moves of the past.
This gives your mind space to focus on the task at hand, in the present moment. The mind is able to calm down and to see things more clearly.
When the mind is agitated—i.e. when there is stress—the mind will have many jangled, confusing, and conflicting thoughts. Doing tai chi in a slow and grounded way causes energy to drop from the brain to the rest of the body. At the same time, the profusion of conflicting thoughts will also fall away.
Many are able to think more clearly and calmly after doing some tai chi, an effect which can extend beyond the actual practice session.
Evidence of tai chi’s ability to reduce stress. A number of medical studies have investigated and confirmed that tai chi can improve practitioners’ emotional well being and their ability to control stress. This is bolstered by research showing that tai chi practitioners even report fewer and less intense tension headaches.
Although many are wanting to reduce stress in their lives, they don’t know how or where to begin. An effective approach to stress reduction is through the practice of tai chi.
Tai Chi Benefits for Self Defense
Many people think of tai chi as the slow, dance-like exercise practiced in a synchronous dances by groups in parks. While this is a popular aspect of tai chi, tai chi was developed as a martial art. It wasn't only a practice for health, but a critical skill for defending against attackers and even for protecting the Chinese emperor against assassins.
A slow practice develops speed. You can learn to smoothly and quickly execute tai chi martial movements by first practicing them slowly. Slow movements, done with attention, help to identify and to release tension points which would block the full expression of the move.
Tai chi, practiced as a martial art, will teach you useful self-defense techniques. No question about that, despite the still popular (but nevertheless false) view of tai chi as a noncompetitive exercise for the elderly. Skilled practitioners in tai chi as a fighting art know that each of the movements allows for different fighting applications to be used against opponents.
The slow movements also help one to unify the body, intention, and energy. Fast movements can cause jerky, uncoordinated actions, while slow movements help the body to move in a unified, smooth way. Add intention to the slow movements, and the mind can help to direct the flow of energy for the desired fighting application. A practitioner can’t do this with fast movements unless they've already mastered this unification of body, energy and mind in the slow movements.
Yielding. Tai chi is not about resisting attacks but about first yielding to the attack. The strategy of tai chi is to flow around obstacles, and to redirect the energy of an incoming attack back outward. This is a trademark of tai chi, and a teaching that differentiates it from many other types of martial arts.
That said, external forms are harder on the body. After a number of years, many practitioners of these arts are unable or unwilling to continue because of the strain the training puts on the body—and the resulting aches, pain, and risks of injury. Self-defense over the long term. Those interested in learning tai chi for self-defense should realize that tai chi is not the fastest way to learn these types of skills. In the short term, less than a year or two, good instruction in any of the external martial arts (e.g. kung fu, karate) is usually the faster way to go for self-defense. The linear techniques and reliance on muscle strength are easier to learn than the relaxed, circular, internal approach of tai chi.
If you’re willing to make the longer-term commitment to tai chi as a martial art, you’ll develop effective self-defense skills. You’ll be able to train and to hone these skills even in your senior years, in addition to reaping the additional health benefits from tai chi, which are not accessible through other types of martial arts.
Defending against more than just blows. Attacks can be physical, and the appropriate response may first involve dodging and then responding to incoming blows. Attacks can also be nonphysical, taking the form of taunts and psychological threats.
Tai chi gives practitioners a way of dodging or defusing these by remaining grounded, balanced, and calm. This is the best position for decision-making, such as whether to engage in a fight or to simply disengage and to move on.
By remaining calm, tai chi practitioners can avoid anger, fear, and the impaired judgment that accompanies these emotions. This is a self-defense benefit of tai chi that can be applied not only in fights but throughout one’s life.