The Healing Power of Tai Chi
By Jamie Sills
Tai Chi is a common practice in China where large groups of people can often be seen practicing together outdoors. For centuries, Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners have recommended Tai Chi to increase longevity, promote good health, flexibility, and strength, as well as aid in the treatment of many ailments including high blood pressure, depression, and arthritis.
Tai Chi was originally developed as a martial art for fighting or subduing an attacker. The “martial” aspect is still there, but the art is primarily used now for health and wellness. In stark contrast to the body contact that typically comes to mind when we think of martial arts, Tai Chi focuses on slow, rhythmic, meditative movements designed to help you find peace and inner calm.
But the benefits of Tai Chi go far beyond just mental health. Numerous studies have shown Tai Chi offers several health benefits including:
- Improved balance
- Strengthened muscles and tendons
- Reduced stress and balanced emotions
- Reduced blood pressure
- Helps you learn how to use your body properly and more efficiently
- Has been shown to help increase or stabilize bone mineral density
- Can help increase or sustain memory and cognition as we age
There are five primary styles of Tai Chi that were developed beginning in the 16th century (and possibly earlier). The most popular is Yang Style Tai Chi, first developed by Yang Lu Chan in the early 1800s. His grandson, Yang Chengfu (1883-1936) is perhaps the best-known teacher of his family’s style of Tai Chi. The original Yang Style Tai Chi, called the long form, consists of 108 movements. It is characterized by its large frame and slow, gentle, expansive movements.
Learning Tai Chi takes time and patience. It can be frustrating in the beginning. Once the basic movements and sequence are memorized, however, it becomes a moving meditation that also helps balance and harmonize your chi or internal energy. Stick with it long enough and you’ll soon see what you once thought was complicated becomes easy. When you practice Tai Chi, your skills and knowledge are constantly evolving, so it never gets boring.
Practicing Tai Chi is a calming, healing addition to your weekly routine that can help you stay physically active and maintain mobility, while also alleviating the daily stresses of life. Those who participate in Tai Chi report improved well-being, increased alertness, relaxation, improved mental outlook and greater confidence. With so many physical, mental, and spiritual benefits, it’s easy to see why Tai Chi is one of the best practices we can do at any age.
Jamie Sills is an avid martial arts enthusiast who has been practicing Tai Chi for over 13 years. She is also owner of Oconee Spirit Reiki (oconeespiritreiki.com). Ms. Sills is currently teaching Introduction to Yang Style Tai Chi at Exhale Yoga. Classes are Mondays and Thursdays from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. The six-week course began January 10th and is composed of 12 sessions, but students can join late for a pro-rated fee. Exhale Yoga is located at 921 Harmony Road, Suite C, Eatonton (next to Southern Laser Salon & Spa) and can be reached at (706) 818-1725. You can also register by visiting www.exhalelakeoconee.com