Fatigue, pain, stress…they all can be alleviated with this ancient martial art
Tai Chi is a martial art developed long ago in ancient China. Typically practised outside, Tai Chi incorporates slow, controlled movements.
The idea behind Tai Chi is that the essence of life, (or Qi) flows through unseen channels inside the body. Illness occurs when the flow of Qi is interrupted, it is believed.
Tai Chi is arranged so that it resembles the other Chinese art, kung fu, only in slower motion. One’s cardiovascular health and bodily strength can be improved with regular use. Tai Chi also emphasises correct posture in order to evoke awareness of the body and its motions. You can receive the benefit of a clear mind when engaged in the gentle movements of Tai chi.
Perfect for almost anyone!
People of all ages (even kids!), abilities and most physical conditions, Tai Chi is low-impact, gentle, relaxing — with all the benefits of traditional meditation without the sweat and breathlessness of regular, high intensity exercise.
Your joints and muscles will also be less prone to stress and injury. One of the wonderful things about Tai Chi is that there is no special equipment, no need for workout clothes or shoes and it can be practised indoors or outside, alone or with a group of many others! Following are some ailments that Tai Chi can assist with.
A good stress reliever
Tai Chi is known as a wonderful stress reliever. As mentioned above, it is almost like meditation for the body – combined with deep breathing techniques and relaxation, Tai Chi is kinder to the body than medications used for the same purpose of relieving stress.
Your blood pressure rate will also benefit from this healing art. A clinical study in 2008 found that practising Tai Chi lowered the blood pressure in 22 or 26 people studied. Elderly people can especially reap the benefits, as high blood pressure, depression and common heart conditions are often lessened or in some cases, alleviated entirely. Older folks also saw an improvement in their balance, ultimately preventing slips and falls.
For those suffering the effects of anxiety, mood imbalances and depression, Tai Chi may be able to offer improvement in these avenues. Engaging in these gentle movements may be considered a pill-free life saver.
Joint stiffness and aches
Another study was conducted amongst people who suffer from fibromyalgia, a complicated and generally misunderstood pain syndrome that lies in the joints. Tai chi’s exercises alleviate tautness in the muscles and joints, increasing the ability to go through their range of motion. Aged non-sufferers of fibro also saw improvement with the pain in their knees.
Since Tai Chi is a weight-bearing exercise, it is ideal for maintaining bone strength. Osteoporosis can be a concern for middle aged women; bones can get a boost of strength from a regimen such as this.
Better, deeper sleep
Who wouldn’t want deeper, more refreshing sleep? Those who practise Tai Chi swear by it for the experience of feeling more refreshed and pulled together in the morning upon waking. It seems to have helped those who suffer from insomnia and those who generally have trouble falling asleep in the first place.
It is generally thought that Tai Chi’s gentle movements and controlled breathing work powerfully against toxins and disease. Since the organs are being (again, gently) stimulated through the movements, the lymphatic system in turn wards off colds and the like.
Always consult your doctor first
Keep in mind, however, that Tai Chi should not be considered a ‘cure-all’ or magic elixir. Its benefits are real if practised with regularity, but it doesn’t promise to ‘fix everything.’
If you have a chronic illness, haven’t participated in any sort of exercise regimen of late or are seriously overweight, always consult with your doctor or health practitioner before undertaking a new fitness routine like Tai Chi.
And then, consult with a certified Tai Chi instructor
Tai Chi, as easy as it looks, cannot be learnt from a book or DVD. In order to reap its many benefits and to avoid the risk of injury, learning Tai Chi should only be done by an instructor certified in the martial art. It’s important, too, to obtain feedback from the instructor to make certain the movements are done correctly. Ideally, the instructor should have at least 10 years of experience.
At Warwick Women’s Workout, our instructors offer tai chi sessions off-circuit. Contact Michelle Monks, Gym Manager, about exploring the wonderful world of this ancient martial art! Contact us at (08) 9342 9028.