Tai Chi History and Benefits
In Seniors About Seniors ongoing commitment to provide seniors the best and most useful information, who better to tell us about Tai Chi than the Mayo Clinic in their article below.
But before we begin let’s learn a little about the history of Tai Chi.
First, it’s older than we seniors, over 700 years older, maybe up to 1,500. It is one of China’s best known historical martial arts. It was originally a fighting art but has mellowed with age and is now a friendly and gentle exercise system. It consists of slow and definite movements along with mediation, and breathing training, nothing hurried or demanding. Remember, it was never intended to get rid of calories or work on your heart rate. And no one seems to know who or how it was created. For something that has lasted for hundreds of years, whose authorship and origination details are still pretty much a mystery, it is absolutely worth getting to learn about today.
So lets have the folks at the Mayo Clinic take over from here.
Tai chi: A gentle way to fight stress
Tai chi helps reduce stress and anxiety. And it also helps increase flexibility and balance.
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’s now used for stress reduction and a variety of other health conditions. Often described as meditation in motion, tai chi promotes serenity through gentle, flowing movements.
What is tai chi?
Tai chi is an ancient Chinese tradition that, today, is practiced as a graceful form of exercise. It involves a series of movements performed in a slow, focused manner and accompanied by deep breathing.
Tai chi, also called tai chi chuan, is a noncompetitive, self-paced system of gentle physical exercise and stretching. Each posture flows into the next without pause, ensuring that your body is in constant motion.
Tai chi has many different styles. Each style may 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?
You may also find tai chi appealing because it’s inexpensive and requires no special equipment. You can do tai chi anywhere, including indoors or outside. And you can do tai chi alone or in a group class.
Why try tai chi?
- Decreased stress, anxiety and depression
- Improved mood
- Improved aerobic capacity
- Increased energy and stamina
- Improved flexibility, balance and agility
- Improved muscle strength and definition
- Enhance quality of sleep
- Enhance the immune system
- Help lower blood pressure
- Improve joint pain
- Improve symptoms of congestive heart failure
- Improve overall well-being
- Reduce risk of falls in older adults
How to get started with tai chi
You can find tai chi classes in many communities today. To find a class near you, contact local fitness centers, health clubs and senior centers. Tai chi instructors don’t 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.
After learning tai chi, you may eventually feel confident enough to do 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
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, do tai chi whenever you have a few minutes. You can even practice the soothing mind-body concepts of tai chi without performing the actual movements when you are in a stressful situation, such as a traffic jam or a tense work meeting, for instance.
Seniors About Seniors hopes this article was helpful.