Tai chi: Grace & Wellness (with video)

There’s a scene in the film, Remember the Titans, that features several high school young ladies gawking at a member of the football team as he practices tai chi.

No doubt, the young man looked absolutely great in the midst of such deliberate and graceful motion. Though it isn’t from the film, check-out this video…

Tai chi, pronounced tī-jē or tī-chē, is a self-defense martial art developed in ancient China. It has multiple styles and can be practiced individually and in groups. And though one may have a preferred practice setting, anywhere works.

“Tai chi” is actually the shortened version of tai chi chuan (pronounced “chwan”), which has been translated as supreme ultimate fist (Whoa!). Fascinatingly, tai chi incorporates the traditional Chinese concept of yin yang. Yin represents one’s cold, slow, and passive characteristics; while yang is about the hot, excited, and active.

Practicing tai chi is thought to aid in balancing yin yang, and that enhances the flow of qi (also spelled “chi”) – the life-process or flow of energy that sustains living beings.

Well then, millions of Americans are practicing tai chi for health-related purposes. These include…

  • Stress reduction
  • Low-impact aerobic exercise
  • Physical conditioning, muscle strength, flexibility, and coordination
  • Improving balance and decreasing the risk of falls – especially in the elderly
  • Pain and stiffness management
  • Reducing anxiety and depression
  • Improving sleep
  • Relieving chronic pain (here’s a link to the first in a chipur series on chronic pain syndrome)
  • Increasing energy, endurance, and agility
  • Overall well-being

And there’s more. Studies are telling us tai chi may enhance the immune system and improve well-being in the elderly. It’s also being studied for improving functional capacity in breast cancer patients, and quality of life for those enduring HIV infection. And tai chi’s being examined for the treatment of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and osteoarthritis.

Granted, much more research work needs to be done; however, it sure looks as though practicing tai chi is a powerful wellness practice.

Tai chi is grounded in two primary features. The first is the solo form, a slow and deliberate sequence of movements that emphasize a straight spine, abdominal breathing, and a natural range of motion. The form takes the individual through a complete range of motion over their center of gravity. The second feature involves different styles of pushing hands.

So are you ready to get started? There are any number of ways to begin practicing tai chi. Though there are videos and books available most anywhere, I believe it would be a great idea to find a “live” source of instruction. Check-out your local YMCA or park district. Or do an Internet search for “tai chi” with your zip code.

And as with anything I present here on chipur, do your research and chat with your physician before jumping in.

Tai chi is very cool stuff. Take another look at the video. How could something that beautiful not be good for us? Think about it.

Comments are so important to all of us. Any tai chi experience out there? How ’bout sharing!