It’s World Tai Chi Day on 30th April, but what exactly is Tai-Chi? Is it a martial art, or a weight bearing and moderate intensity cardiovascular exercise? Is it a form of relaxation promoting therapeutic and health benefits, or an ancient Chinese discipline that integrates mind, body and spirit? Well you would be right in thinking that it is all of the above.
Today we are going to look purely at the health benefits that you might gain from regular practice. But first let’s look at the proof of how long it has existed.
The reason that Tai-Chi is a credible health system is that history states that as far back as 5000 years ago, The Yellow Emporer ordered Yin Tang to perform “the grand dance for the enhancement of limbs and the curing of diseases of the people”, we now know this to be Tai-Chi. 168BC “Dao Yin” exercises were first published to prevent and treat disease
In the sixth century AD Shao Lin Chuan developed an exercise system for monks in poor health and in the twelth century the founder of Tai Chi, Chang Sang Feng, – a Taoist Monk of Wu Tang Mountain witnessed a crane attacking a snake. The snake won – using yielding techniques and the principle of circular action. It was then in the seventeenth century that Tai-Chi was developed as a martial art. So chinese health exercises have been around and used for promoting health far longer than being used as a martial art.
There are many different styles of tai-chi and their names are usually named after the family who created it. I myself practice Grand Master Cheng Man Ching who adapted the long Yang style because of ill health. He was diagnosed with 3rd degree tuberculosis, so he cut down the repetition from the 106 step Yang style to 37 steps now known as Cheng Man Ching and used this to control his illness. He was born in 1902 and died in 1975. He wrote medical books on gynaecology, cancer, orthopaedics and was Master of the Five Excellences, Poetry, Calligraphy, Painting, Tai Chi and Traditional Chinese Medicine. He also called himself “The Old Child Who Never Tires of Learning”, he was a very spiritual teacher.
Some of the benefits from practicing Tai-Chi are:-
- Studies show that regular practice has reduced the risk of falls in the elderly by 47.5%
- Helps to lower blood pressure
- Reduces arthritic pain
- In Tai-Chi we exercise almost every muscle in the body in a gentle way
- It increases mobility in joints
- Improves mind concentration and memory (this tends to fade as we get older)!
- Improves lung capacity and breathing
- Massages all the internal organs, stimulating them to perform better
- Brings about peace and relaxation, in turn reducing stress
- Improves digestion and circulation
- Gives you energy rather than depletes you
- You take control of your own health
There is no doubt that the regular practice of Tai-Chi will rejuvenate and energise your whole system. Its practice is based around Traditional Chinese Medicine and works on the whole of the Meridian system (pathways around the body) which transports Chi (life force energy). It will balance Chi (energy) where there is a blockage or where it is depleted. It is not just a set of exercises that looks a bit slow!
These exercises are very powerful and if you are just fed up with feeling below par either with physical discomfort or mental unrest then come and try it for yourself. Pick up the phone and get a step closer to becoming healthier and happier.