Exercise: Tai Chi for Mind, Body, and Spirit


The practice of Tai Chi combines flowing movement and breathing techniques with mental and spiritual awareness to bring about a workout that benefits the mind, body, and soul. If you are experiencing a lot of stress in your life, then you may benefit from joining a Tai Chi class in your local area, or even getting a book or video from the library and learning the movements on your own at home.

Tai Chi originated in China, where it is said that a Taoist monk by the name of Chang San-Feng witnessed a struggle between a crane and a snake. The crane attacked the snake with hard jabs of its beak, while the snake's soft and flowing maneuvers won the battle. The snake's movements were the inspiration for Tai Chi, which is now practiced not only in China, but all over the world.

In practicing Tai Chi movements on a daily basis, it is thought that Chi (or the life-energy that flows through you body) is enhanced. If Chi cannot flow to certain organs of the body, they become "malnourished," resulting in illness. Tai Chi exercises supposedly open up the channels for Chi to flow properly throughout the body, thus maintaining health, vitality, and energy.

This graceful form of exercise has been known to help people regain strength, posture and balance. It can improve circulation while also bringing on a meditative state that assists in relaxation.

A study in the Archives of Internal Medicine (3-8-04) examined 47 previous studies on the health effects of Tai Chi, and found that Tai Chi showed positive effects on:

• Respiratory and cardiovascular functioning

• Blood pressure

• Balance

• Arthritis, flexibility and strength

• Depression or mood

• Immunity

If you are interested in finding a Tai Chi class in your area, you may want to check out your local Dojo or even a YMCA. This is a wonderful exercise for people of all ages, from the very old to the very young. It takes practice and concentration, and some people perform it consistently throughout their entire lives. Tai Chi can be a great addition to your workout regimen not only for the physical and mental benefits, but also for your spirit.


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