Tai Chi (pronounced "tie chee") is an ancient Chinese discipline that integrates mind, body, and spirit. Tai Chi uses meditation and deep breathing with movements through a series of continuous exercises, called "forms," which resemble slow-moving ballet.
Tai Chi can help to treat problems with:
- Circulation problems
- High blood pressure
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Skeletal problems such as Osteoarthritis
- Anxiety, depression and other emotional conditions
- Pain and Stiffness
Tai Chi increases strength and promotes calm and harmony. It improves the flow of internal energy throughout the body. The calming, meditative aspect of tai chi that makes it particularly useful for reducing stress and anxiety.
As an aerobic exercise, Tai Chi improves muscle strength, enhances balance and flexibility. People who practice Tai Chi are also said to exploit the strength of yin (the earth) and the energy of yang (the heavens) through exercises designed to express these forces in balanced and harmonious form. Tai Chi co-ordinates breathing and movement, helping you to focus your mind on your body’s actions.
According to one legend, Tai Chi was developed in China in the thirteenth century. As the story goes, a man who was a monk and martial arts master invented it after watching a fight between a crane and a snake. The bird was the biggest and strongest and appeared to have the advantage. However, the snake's elusive movements enabled it to win. Even today, practitioners who perform Tai Chi as a martial art use subtle movements to dodge blows and turn an attacker's own momentum against him.
A number of research studies have been done related to the health benefits of Tai Chi (since about 2000); looking into areas such as Tai Chi's impact on improving health in older adults, as a stress management tool, as an immune system booster, on fibromyalgia systems, on its impact on bone strength and balance and flexibility, as a way of preventing depression in older adults, and as a complementary treatment for chronic heart failure.