The Benefits of Tai Chi

Tai Chi Chuan (taijiquan) can be translated as “Grand Ultimate Fist". Tai Chi can be defined as a series of gentle movements and simple postures designed to improve coordination, relieve stress, promote overall well-being and strengthen the immune system. A focus is placed upon directing "chi" or energy, through the body, mind, and spirit. The four basic focal points of Tai Chi include relaxation, breathing, looking inward, and harmonizing the body and mind. Tai Chi combines movement, meditation and breath regulation to enhance the flow of vital energy in the body, improve blood circulation, and enhance immune functions. Tai Chi is one of the most broadly applicable systems of self-care in the world. In China, it is estimated that 200 million people practice Tai Chi everyday. There is a whole range of possible benefits, many being documented by western medical studies. Increasingly, research is published in prestigious medical letters and journals that supports a range of physical and mental benefits. Tai chi’s counterpart, Chi Kung (qigong) is a more meditative, energy or “chi” building exercise designed to open the joints and meridians and exercise the internal organs. There are literally hundreds of chi kungs, from simple standing meditations to very stylized movements.
Physical Benefits
Increased flexibility - particularly in the often forgotten spine.
Maintenance of flexibility in spinal joints extremely important.
Full range of motion in a lot of your joints.
Increased strength, particularly of the leg muscles
Better balance, fewer falls
Improved posture
Improved immune functioning. (Mental stillness and reduced stress stimulate parasympathetic nervous system and immune function, as does exercise.)
Improved, deeper breathing - leading to increased oxygenation and vitality of all tissues, improved immune functioning, deeper relaxation
Many people have reduced pain - particularly noticed in shoulders, back, legs and knees
Increased vitality, energy and life - and an increased awareness of the ever present 'chi'.
Enhanced coordination, and improved fine motor skills.
Regulates blood pressure , decreases breathing and heart rates
Known to help with arthritis, stress, gastrointestinal, circulation, osteoporosis, and fibromyalgia
Mental Benefits
Reduced stress and increased relaxation
Increased concentration and mental focus
Improved memory
Increased sense of happiness and contentedness (is that a word?) and inner peace
Greater ability to 'be in the moment', to pull out of the craziness of everyday living
An often profound sense of being here, now. (Wherever you go, there you are...) In other words, reducing the tendency to live in the past, or worry about the future because you are concentrating on the movements of the body and not the outside world.)
A higher level of happiness

Originally a martial art, its effectiveness is gained through learning extreme sensitivity, flexibility and power from grounding and centering in your own body, and becoming sensitive to connecting with, following and redirecting another’s movements and intention. The five main styles of tai chi are named after the families that created and popularized the intricate movements. Chen style (faster and more spiral moves), Yang style (moderate, round shape), Wu styles (Northern, Southern, and Hao; smaller and visually more linear).