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The Secret to a Happier, Healthier Life

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By Patricia A. Woodburry

Ever wonder what tai chi is all about? This ancient Chinese practice has proven to be one of the most powerful ways to improve both your physical and mental health.

Tai chi is rooted in multiple Asian traditions. Its two central concepts are yin and yang (opposing yet complementary forces) and qi (vital energy). When your qi freely flows, you are balanced and healthy. But if your qi is weakened or blocked, you can experience physical, mental and emotional problems. Tai chi promotes the flow of qi. While it is pronounced the same qi should not be confused with the chi in tai chi. The latter is a superlative, meaning supreme or ultimate.

In an increasing number of recent studies, tai chi has been found to heal-almost anything, from lowering blood pressure, reducing stress, building strength and balance, slowing the onset of dementia, and relieving pain. Better yet, everyone can benefit, no matter their age or fitness level. That’s right, whether you are 50, 60, 70 or more, healthy or frail, you will find an exercise routine that is perfect for getting you qi going.

Let’s go over the biggest benefits of tai chi:

  • Better Balance: This benefit is the best documented in medical literature. Studies show that older adults who do hour-long tai chi sessions one to three times a week are 43% less likely to fall, and they cut their risk of injury in half.
  • No More Pain:A growing number of clinical trials show that tai chi offers significant relief from back, neck, arthritis, and fibromyalgia pain.
  • A Sharper Mind:Tai chi can help reduce age-related cognitive decline and even slow dementia.
  • A Boost in Mood:In 82% of studies, tai chi greatly improved mood and lowered anxiety. It was also shown to be effective treatment for depression.
  • Less Stress:It helps one learn to step back and take a deep, calming breath.
  • More Confidence:While gaining muscle and mind control.
  • A Healthier Heart:Tai chi may offer advantages over other types of aerobic exercise especially for people who are sedentary or very out of shape.

Tai chi can be practiced anywhere, indoors or outdoors, in as little as 30 minutes. You can do some of the movements even while sitting. Tai chi consists of gentle, non-jarring movements. The movements continuously massage the internal organs. The constant turnings of the waist and limbs create internal pressures that twist and create beneficial compressions in your organs. Relaxing the muscles in combination with slow-motion movement gradually stretches them. The emphasis on flowing relaxation is especially useful for softening muscles that become stiff through repetitive daily activities. One of the major effects of Tai Chi is to improve and regulate the movement of all the body’s fluids—blood, lymph, synovial fluid (between the joints), cerebrospinal fluid (within the spinal column and interstitial fluid (between the cells).

Although tai chi sounds mysterious, research is proving it works. It has proven to be one of the most powerful ways to improve both your physical and mental health. It is often called “meditation in motion.” With a qualified instructor, you should get gentle guidance through routines designed to restore both your body and minds, as well as help you to function better all day, each and every day.

Source: Harvard Medical School, Health Beat, July 2018. Art Stalbow, tai chi author and instructor.

Contact Patricia  at pwoodbury@cfl.rr.com.