The Benefits of Tai Chi and Why I like the Art
by Tan Tew Chin
I was first introduced to Tai Chi by my neighbor who has practiced this art for many years. Before I learned Tai Chi, my health was not in a good shape. I used to have colds and aches all over my body: my temperament was not good too. I got agitated easily, find it difficult to maintain my cool. One day, I met this neighbor of mine while on the way to the market. She was wearing the Tai Chi outfits and I approached her asking her where she was going. She said she was heading for her practice session and asked me whether I would be interested to join her. I was really caught by surprised, for I never imagined myself doing this kind of exercise. I was never active and also had never engaged in any form of sports in school. May be because of this, my body was not in good state before u embarked on Tai Chi. However, I took the challenge and agreed to join her after that encounter. Ever since I took up Tai Chi after about one and a half years, my health improves. I contact much less cold and flu. My sense of balancing has improved drastically and I am able to keep my temper much better. The changes have undoubtedly encouraged me to continue and at the same time increase my enthusiasm in my practice of Tai Chi.
Tai Chi Chuen, in short Tai Chi, is a traditional Chinese form of martial art practiced for both its defense training and its health benefits. It is sometimes referred to as “moving meditation” practitioners mover their bodies slowly, gently, gracefully and with awareness, while breathing deeply using Tang Tien also known as abdominal breathing. This form of breathing also widely applies in Qi Gong in which Tai Chi is part of it. Most of the people practice Tai Chi to improve their health and well-being. When need be, it can be used as self defence. It helps to strengthen the body and improves our immune system to fight chronic diseases.
As mentioned earlier, Tai Chi started as a martial art and a means of self defence and over time, people began to use it for health purposes primarily. Tai Chi was developed in ancient China and has a long history. But the accounts of the history of Tai Chi vary. A popular legend credits its origins to a Taoist monk by the name of Chang San Fan who said to develop a set of 13 exercises that imitate the movements of animals and incorporated the concept of internal force. Today, Tai Chi has developed into many steams by different schools and names. But the fundamental of Tai Chi that is the support of a healthy balance of Yin and Yang whereby aiding the flow of Qi remains unchanged.
The various health-related purposes of Tai Chi are as follows:-
i) To improve physical condition, muscle strength, muscle toning, coordination and flexibility.
ii) To improve balance and decrease the risk of falls, especially in elderly people.
iii) To relief pain and ease stiffness (for example from osteoarthritis, elbow and knee joints)
iv) To improve sleep.
v) Benefits associated with low-impact, weight-bearing, aerobic exercise.
vi) For overall wellness
Tai Chi usually practiced in groups. Of course you can practice on your own if you have mastered the skill to do it yourself. People commonly practice Tai Chi in parks and halls- often in the early mornings before going to work or evening after work. There are many different styles and schools, but all involve slow, relaxed, graceful movements, each flowing into the next. The body is in constant and fluid motion and posture is important. The names of some of the movements evoke nature (“Embrace Tiger, Return of the Mountain”). It is of utmost importance when practice Tai Chi to maintain concentration, putting aside distracting thoughts; and breathe properly in deep and relaxed, but focused manner.
Though I have only come in touch with Tai Chi for one and a half years, I enjoy every moment while practicing it. I feel the tremendous improvement in my health and body well being. And I thank my teach Mr Rennie Chong for helping me to achieve this change.