Traditional Chinese Medicine Practices: Tai Chi
Tai Chi is great exercise and has sustaining relaxation and healing benefits. Often described as meditation in motion, Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese exercise “art” form. Three philosophies are blended together in Tai Chi; the philosophy of Yin and Yang, aspects of Chinese Martial Arts, and many elements of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Yin and Yang
“The symbol for Tai Chi is a circle divided by a flowing line that represents the movement of a wave. Filling the circumference of the circle are two curved shapes of equal size, one white, representing yin, and one black, represent yang. There is a small dot of the opposite Cole in each shape, showing the sympathetic character of each to the other. The dynamic flow with the symbol represents the movement and the continuity of the life force.”
The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Body-Mind Disciplines by Nancy Allison
Tai Chi consists of a slow and continuous series of circular movements. It is a low impact exercise so most anyone can practice it to improve overall health, balance, joint health and muscle tone. It is a process to bring balance to the mind and body.
Tai Chi stimulates emotional, physical, mental well-being, and develops balance, stamina, and grace allowing students to let go of the tension in the body. By releasing the tension in the body it is easier for the mind to be calm. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, a healthy life includes emotional stability, a high degree of mental efficiency as well as physical stamina. Tai Chi helps to strengthen all of these areas in a person’s life.
Tai Chi is a set of movements that build on each other and are interconnected. The process is very important, from the beginning to the end. In order to get the best results, Tai Chi should be practiced on a daily basis to stimulate the body’s natural circulatory process, combat disease, and keep the mind alert yet calm. It is considered a life long practice to insure good health and wellness.
Practicing Tai Chi requires full concentration. This isn’t a practice you can do successfully while day dreaming. Breathing during a practice is natural and not forced. The movement is also natural, easy and flowing, although it does take some time to learn each form and find balance in the movements of the arms and the legs.
Meditation in Motion
A Tai Chi practice is generally 25 minute long. The movements look soft, continuous, light and fluid yet the body must be firm, stable and strong and the mind must stay alert and active. It is a series of circular movements, curves, arcs, and spirals because it is believed that moving in circles conserves energy, creates security and lessens nervousness.
Practicing Tai Chi is like taking your vitamins. You don’t feel the benefits unless you make the practice a regular part of your life. Practicing Tai Chi has many health and emotional benefits including improved posture, better balance, mastery of movement, improved health, increased energy and strength. Emotional benefits include increased awareness, more patience, a heightened sense of calmness and serenity.
You can probably find a class near you at one of the local recreation centers or you can get more information in the resources below.