Tai Chi can produce a wide range of benefits for its practitioners, from improving their balance and overall fitness to offering a form of relaxation and stress management. Tai Chi has also been shown to have beneficial effects on people who are affected by conditions such as high blood pressure. These physiological and health benefits, many of which are supported by extensive scientific evidence, are impressive, but they are not the only advantages of practicing this form of exercise. Perhaps the most interesting effects of Tai Chi are those that extend beyond mere physical health and which affect areas of life that one would have thought were completely separate from simple exercise.
Tai Chi differs from other forms of exercise in many respects. It combines physical activity with mindfulness to offer benefits for both the mind and body. Tai Chi involves circular movements that are never forced. The muscles remain relaxed and the joints are neither never fully extended nor fully bent and the connective tissues are gently enhanced by the movement. Anybody can practice Tai Chi, whether in its gentler or its more vigorous forms, and there are a range of different styles and exercises to perform.
Tai Chi can also change the way people look at the world emotionally. The psychological benefits of Tai Chi can include mood enhancement, improved concentration and increased self-esteem. The people who practice Tai Chi bring these benefits into their social and professional lives. Tai Chi can be far more than just an exercise program. It can aid in the alignment of one’s life.
Tai Chi offers a form of exercise that can train both the mind and the body. These dual benefits can make the effects of taking up Tai Chi very surprising for the beginner. Those who have been attracted to Tai Chi by the physical benefits and the idea that it will be just like any other exercise class can be surprised by the effects that it can have on their mind. Meanwhile, those beginners who have come to Tai Chi in search of a form of relaxation or meditation can be surprised by the physical benefits that they experienced as their balance, coordination and physical fitness improves.
Practitioners of Tai Chi have reported a wide range of benefits which they relate to their performance of this form of exercise. Practicing Tai Chi can generate feelings of well-being and improved quality of life. It can help people to enjoy a better quality of sleep and it can help reduce stress and generate feelings of calm. Practicing Tai Chi can help to increase awareness, improve energy levels and build stamina. (Web MD)
Tai Chi helps people become more focused and alert. This can benefit all parts of their lives, including their careers, their academic achievement and their relationships. Regular practitioner report being much happier and calmer. Tai Chi can be fitted into any lifestyle or schedule. Some practitioners have even incorporated subtle forms of Tai Chi into their professional life in order to keep calm and in control during work meetings. (Harvard Magazine)
A systematic review of the research into the benefits of Tai Chi found that there was evidence of a wide range of different benefits, many of which were psychological. It can relieve anxiety and depression, enhance mood. It can build confidence and increase self-esteem. (Wang 2010)The practice of Tai Chi can also offer social benefits. Joining a Tai Chi class can be a great way of meeting people and socializing, but practicing Tai Chi as a couple or a family can also help to make existing relationships stronger.
The benefits that are experienced by people who take up the regular practice of Tai Chi can have far reaching consequences. People who have taken up this form of exercise have found that the effects reach out into their everyday life, quite unlike other types of exercise that start and end with the gym.
It is little wonder that Tai Chi has been considered for use as an exercise or relaxation program for use in diverse settings, including workplaces and schools.
The wide range of benefits that are experienced, the adaptability of Tai Chi for different environments and needs, and the very real impact that this type of exercise can have on all aspects of its practitioners lives make Tai Chi an interesting choice for anyone who is looking for a way in which to improve either their mind or their body. Tai Chi cannot only be a way of achieving calm or a form of physical activity to improve fitness. It can also help people to achieve success in their everyday lives, at work or in their personal relationships.
Harvard Health Publications: The health benefits of tai chi Available online at http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/Harvard_Womens_Health_Watch/2009/May/The-health-benefits-of-tai-chi Accessed 23/01/2011
Harvard Magazine: Easing Ills through Tai Chi Available online at http://harvardmagazine.com/2010/01/researchers-study-tai-chi-benefits Accessed 23/01/2011
Wang, C. Bannuru, R. Ramel, J. Kupelnick, B. Scott, T. Schmid, CH. (2010) Tai Chi on psychological well-being: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 10:23 Available online at http://www.biomedcentral.com/1472-6882/d 23/01/2011
Web MD: Health Benfits of Tai Chi and Qigong Available online at http://www.webmd.com/balance/health-benefits-tai-chi-qigong Accessed 23/01/2011