The Basics Of Tai Chi Explained

If you live in the western world, you may or may not have heard of Tai Chi. If you live in east or south-east Asia, they’d be everywhere. Basically, Tai Chi is a form of eastern meditation practice with distinctly slow full-body movements. They are most commonly seen being practiced by old Asian people in parks.

And yes, some of us young people are guilty of laughing at old folks as they perform their tai chi. We also sneer at the other equivalent art form known as Falun Gong, which is pretty much similar to tai chi, but their practitioners are known to dress in yellow-coloured attire. While us young people, even those in Asia tend to ridicule it, tai chi actually has plenty of health benefits.

Believe it or not, tai chi originated as a form of martial art in China. Its emphasis is on “Qi”, which is the energy form that flows through one’s body. A typical class consists with a simple warm up, followed by a few short movements, before the group is ready to work on the “Qi”. The intention of this is to relax the mind and have it in tune with the body so that the energy can flow.

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Why do many old people do it? It is because it is one of those forms of exercises that is not strenuous, but has many types of benefits to the human body. In a way, it is sort of like yoga or meditation. Think about it – it is slow, has low impact, cultivates patience and discipline, and works out your major muscles in a systematic manner. Even from a logical viewpoint, one can understand the merits of such an art form.

Recently, scientific evidence has supported the value of tai chi. It has been documented that tai chi has helped people who are recovering from surgery and people who are wheelchair-bound. Furthermore, the mental and psychological elements of tai chi can help with alleviating stress. How’s that for a bonus?

As for people who are fully functional and are in the prime of their fitness, tai chi is also beneficial. By adapting to doing the more difficult forms of this art, young people have been known to have increased flexibility, balance, aerobic conditioning and physical strength. Of course, the progress and extent to which this occurs can’t really be compared to high intensity cardio or weights, but for something that is easy to perform, it yields pretty good outcomes.

So the next time you think of laughing at the old people at the park, think again. They might be elderly but they are probably healthier than most other people around their age. If you ran tests on them, they probably have very favourable bone density, mental health, as well as a far reduced risk of developing arthritis or heart diseases.

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