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Tai Chi

A Positive Holistic Approach

Tai Chi is a mind/body practice that originated in China as a martial art. A person doing Tai Chi moves their body slowly and gently, while breathing deeply and meditating (Tai Chi is sometimes called "moving meditation"). Many practitioners believe that Tai Chi helps the flow throughout the body of a proposed vital energy called qi (pronounced "chee," it means "air" or "power".

Tai Chi developed in China in about the 12th century A.D. It started as a martial art, or a practice for fighting or self-defence, usually without weapons. Over time, people began to use Tai Chi for health purposes as well. Many different styles of Tai Chi, and variations of each style, developed. The term "Tai Chi" has been translated in various ways, such as "internal martial art," "supreme ultimate boxing," "boundless fist," and "balance of the opposing forces of nature."

In Tai chi, each movement flows into the next. The entire body is always in motion, with the movements performed gently and at uniform speed. It is considered important to keep the body upright, especially the upper body-many tai chi practitioners use the image of a string that goes from the top of the head into the heavens-and to let the body's weight sink to the soles of the feet.

In addition to movement, two other important elements in Tai Chi are breathing and meditation. In Tai Chi practice, it is considered important to concentrate; put aside distracting thoughts; and breathe in a deep, relaxed, and focused manner.

Practitioners believe that this breathing and meditation have many benefits, such as:

  • Massaging the internal organs.
  • Aiding the exchange of gases in the lungs.
  • Helping the digestive system work better.
  • Increasing calmness and awareness.
  • Improving balance.

People practice Tai Chi for various health purposes, such as:
  • To improve physical condition, muscle strength, coordination, and flexibility.
  • To have better balance and a lower risk for falls, especially in elderly people.
  • To ease pain and stiffness--for example, from arthritis.

For health benefits that may be experienced from meditation.

  • To improve sleep.
  • For overall wellness.

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