by Kassel K

Moving Meditation: The Art of Tai Chi

Understanding Tai Chi

IMAGE Breathe in, breathe out. Let your chest rise, now let it fall. Shift your body weight to your left leg and stretch your arms out to the left, now slowly sway your arms and your body weight over to the right. Complementary movements, mental and physical balance, yin and yang; these are the essence of tai chi.
According to Chinese medicine, the universe is run by a single principle, the Tao, which is made up of the yin and the yang; which are two opposing, yet complementary principles. For example, the yin includes femaleness, the moon, cold, and matter; while maleness, the sun, heat, and energy are relatively yang.
"Chi" refers to our energy, vitality, or life force. And "tai chi" is translated as "all encompassing" or "supreme ultimate," because of its embodiment of both the yin and the yang. "Chuan," often used in the name, translates to "fist" or "boxing," and signifies exercise.
Tai Chi is sometimes described as "moving meditation." Through the slow and careful movements of tai chi, people learn to focus on each motion and become aware of the processes in their bodies and mind. The goal is to combine thoughts and movement, which in some, can even generate spiritual feelings.

Achieving and Maintaining Good Health

In Chinese medicine, pain or sickness is believed to occur when the flow of the chi is blocked, and yin and yang energies are out of balance. When the chi is circulating freely, physical symptoms disappear. The joints are seen as gates that control the flow of chi; the slow, gentle, swaying movements, deep breathing, and mental focus of tai chi are designed to relieve tension, open up these joints, and allow chi to move effortlessly throughout the body.
Tai chi is claimed to be good for all health concerns. A number of renowned tai chi masters are said to have experienced sickness in the past from which they could find no relief until they began to practice tai chi. Such reports, however, are merely anecdotes and may not represent actual benefit.
The scientific research done thus far has involved small groups of people. Some of these studies are promising and may suggest specific benefits. According to most, but not all studies, tai chi can decrease the risk of falling in elderly people. Some studies have also suggested that tai chi may lower blood pressure, improve symptoms in fibromyalgia, and decrease depression symptoms.

Learning to Practice

Tai chi involves virtually no impact and no equipment, and it requires only your motivation and perseverance. With the supervision of a qualified instructor, people of any physical condition can begin to practice with little concern for injury. It may be best to start with a group class. To find a teacher you will be compatible with, ask members of different classes about their teachers.
There is a great variety of styles of tai chi and an even greater variety of teaching styles. In some traditional classes, there is little verbal communication and the students learn by watching. In other classes, the teacher may speak throughout and use imagery to describe body movements ("let your spine hang gently like a necklace of pearls") and to guide meditation ("let the energy flow through you like water down a stream").
While there are certification programs for tai chi instructors, a certificate is no guarantee of a person's skill or experience. Ask potential instructors about their specific style, years of practice, and education. In addition, observe several classes before deciding to join one.

Balancing Your Chi

Whether you have a specific condition or wish to maintain your current state of health, balancing your yin and yang energies through the practice of tai chi may bring peace and vitality to your mind, your body, and your life.

RESOURCES

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine http://nccam.nih.gov

National Library of Medicine http://www.nlm.nih.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

Tai Chi Yukon http://www.taichi-yukon.ca

References

Tai chi. EBSCO Natural and Alternative Treatments website. EBSCO Health Library website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/healthLibrary. Updated July 25, 2012. Accessed November 14, 2013.

Tai Chi: An introduction. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine website. Available at: http://nccam.nih.gov/health/taichi/introduction.htm. Updated August 2010. Accessed November 14, 2013.

Yang Style Tai Chi website. Available at: http://www.chebucto.ns.ca/Philosophy/Taichi. Accessed November 14 ,2013.

Revision Information

Health Library Search

Only show results from the selected categories.











2 Vitamin B12 lifestyle - food & nutrition

Did you know that taking enough vitamin B12 may help reduce your risk of heart disease? Find out if you're getting enough and which foods are the best sources....

4 Vitamin B6 lifestyle - food & nutrition

Vitamin B12 helps in red blood cell formation, production of DNA, and function of the nervous system. Vitamin B12 deficiency can occur when the body needs more vitamin B...

7 Giving Acetaminophen to Your Child lifestyle - medication
8 Giving Ibuprofen to Your Child lifestyle - medication
10 Influenza Vaccine procedure
11 Complementary Therapies for the Common Cold lifestyle - alternative health

Sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching…we're all familiar with the misery that accompanies a cold. What are the most common natural therapies used to treat the common cold...

12 Six Steps to Safe Hiking lifestyle - sports & fitness

Why shouldn't you wear cotton when you go hiking? This is just one of our many tips for a safe and injury-free day hiking the great outdoors....

14 Zinc lifestyle - food & nutrition
15 Immunization Guidelines for Children lifestyle - healthcare

Thanks to the United States immunization program, many diseases that used to kill millions of people are virtually unheard of today. Read here to find out what vaccines a...

16 Finding Folate lifestyle - food & nutrition
17 Eat a Diet Rich in Calcium therapeutic center
18 Guidelines for Children's Heart Health lifestyle - kids' & teens' health
19 Vegetarian Diet for Kids: A Healthy Choice? lifestyle - kids' & teens' health
20 Pernicious Anemia condition

Anemia is a low level of healthy red blood cells (RBC). RBCs carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. When red blood cells are low the body does not get enoug...