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Benefits of Tai Chi

Practice Tai Chi for health and well being - It's a gentle form of exercise anyone can enjoy

The benefits of Tai Chi (also called Tai Chuan) are numerous. It's a self-paced ancient Chinese system of graceful slowly flowing movements and shifts of balance and stretching.

Each posture flows into the next without pausing. The constant weight shifts help you to improve your balance and body awareness. The twisting of the trunk flexes the spine, producing some of the same benefits as twists in Yoga (improved spinal flexibility, release of tension on the spinal muscles, alleviating imbalances that can lead to back pain whileimproving blood flow to the discs).

All these movements strengthen the legs, ankles, knees, and hips, increase the range of motion, and are believed to make you more resilient and less prone to injury. Our Mexico Tai Chi guru (!) says these are the benefits of doing Tai Chi.

According to the Mayo Clinic the benefits of Tai Chi are:

  • Reduce stress
  • Increase flexibility
  • Improve muscle strength and definition
  • Increase energy, stamina and agility
  • Increase feelings of well-being

Other research suggests that the benefits of Tai Chi go well beyond stress reduction, including:

  • Reducing anxiety and depression
  • Improving balance and coordination
  • Reducing the number of falls
  • Improving sleep quality
  • Slowing bone loss in women after menopause
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Improving oxygen intake
  • Improving cardiovascular fitness
  • Relieving chronic pain
  • Improving everyday physical functioning

People of any age can practice Tai Chi, even those in their 70s and 80s can do simple Tai Chi postures, and benefit tremendously.

We know an octogenarian who regularly leads classes on her patio overlooking the ocean while vacationing in Mexico for several months each winter (shown in the photos on this page).

Tai Chi has more than 100 possible movements and positions. Once you get familiar with Tai Chi you may find the ones that you like and stick with them, or you may like more variety.

Not unlike yoga, the intensity of Tai Chi can vary depending on the style you practice. Some forms of Tai Chi are more fast-paced than others; however, most forms are gentle and suitable for everyone.

How to get started

You don't need any special clothing or equipment to enjoy the benefits of Tai Chi but to start you may want to consider taking some lessons.

A Tai Chi instructor can teach you the positions, how to regulate your breathing, and how to practice Tai Chi safely, taking into account any injuries, chronic conditions, or balance or coordination problems you may have.

Although Tai Chi is slow and gentle, injuries are possible if it isn't done properly. As well, some people enjoy the social aspects of group classes.

Tai Chi classes are offered through many community recreation centers, senior centers, the YMCA or YWCA, health clubs, and private studios.

There are also DVDs and books available that you can use to start and continue to practice Tai Chi.

Tao of Tai Chi .Com

A great site if you have thought about trying tai chi for exercise. If your idea of a healthy body includes pain free flexible joints and think you may be able to have this though the tai chi movements then this maybe what you are looking for. This site's tai chi how to page is a great place to start for the beginner.

Always a word of caution

Although Tai Chi is gentle and generally considered very safe, talk with your doctor before starting. This is important before starting any new exercise program when you are living with heart disease.

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