Tai Chi for a New YouTai Chi for a New You

By Dr. Mao Shing Ni, Ph.D., D.O.M., L.Ac.

Anyone who has seen images from China of masses of people slowly moving in choreographed, dancelike routines is familiar with the beautiful, health-giving art of Tai Chi. The fact that more than 100 million people practice Tai Chi around the world is a testament to its widely acknowledged health benefits.

Studies have concluded that practicing Tai Chi for thirty minutes, three times a week, for at least three months can slow bone loss in osteoporosis, lower blood pressure, lessen anxiety, improve sleep, increase functional mobility and balance, enhance circulation, and improve one’s cholesterol profile. Tai Chi is a gentle exercise and can be performed by people of any age to help with your health and natural healing.

For Mind-Body Health and Balance

If you are looking for a different type of exercise that integrates the mind and body, Tai Chi may be worthy of your consideration.

Tai Chi is a sequence of slow, meditative movements; a hybrid of yoga and martial arts based on the cyclical movements of the natural world. Its goal is simple: to reconnect us to the flow of energy that permeates the entire universe. When that energy becomes truly available to us, our vitality is boundless.

Through the consistent practice of Tai Chi or Qi Gong, we can strengthen and integrate our physical and mental functions. People generally either engage in mental activity while remaining oblivious to their bodies, or they engage in physical activity while their minds wander and are unaware of what their bodies are doing. In this way the body and mind, which are essentially one inseparable system, are split.

Tai Chi is far more than a sport or a dance. Practicing Tai Chi means balancing ourselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually. The exercise itself is gentle and yet improves cardiovascular capacity. Moreover, it has been found to be a rehabilitative cardiac exercise for those suffering from heart disease.

Self Healing

Through rhythmic movement and deep breathing, Tai Chi can help the body promote proper function of the endocrine system and restore the chemical balance of the body.

The human body is like a tree—if energy circulates to all parts of the tree, the tree is full of life, but if one part of the tree does not receive its supply of energy, that part withers. In the human body, the energy must always be regenerated and it must be able to circulate freely to all parts of the body. Tai Chi allows the body to blossom in perfect condition without perspiring and losing essential energy. Your muscle tissue will be neither flaccid nor rigid, but full of energy like a ripe plum.

It also increases leg muscle strength and provides better balance and posture. Perhaps the best part is that Tai Chi is a gentle exercise that can be performed by anyone at any age.

Centenarians I have met also take advantage of other rejuvenation techniques the Chinese have known for thousands of years - like acupressure, and energy healing - that increase energy, promote health, and balance the body and the mind.

Exercise Can Ease Your Back Pain

Most back pain is caused by the wear and tear of living, which over time weakens our skeletal structure, in the form of bone loss or a displaced disk. Research conclusively shows that exercise early in life builds bone mass and strengthens the skeletal structure, helping to prevent injury down the road.

The good news is that if you are advancing in age, tai chi can slow the progress of degenerative bone disorders. Generally for a healthy back, I recommend a combination of exercises: a 30-minute daily walk, moderate weight training to strengthen muscles and bones, and Tai Chi or Qi Gong to build endurance and flexibility. A good form to choose is Dao-In, which is gentle on the body and great for loosening up the back. During acute back pain, exercise may be difficult or too painful. Until you are mobile, bed rest is the best.

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