Why Tai Chi?

From Using Tai Chi to Build Strength, by Jane Brody 

  • It is a low-impact activity suitable for people of all ages and most states of health, including those who have long been sedentary or "hate" exercise. 

  • It is a gentle, relaxing activity that involves deep breathing but does not work up a sweat or leave you out of breath. 

  • It does not place undue stress on joints and muscles and therefore is unlikely to cause pain or injury. 

  • It requires no special equipment or outfits, only lightweight, comfortable clothing. 

  • Once proper technique is learned from a qualified instructor, it is a no-cost activity that can be practiced anywhere, anytime. 

In addition, Tai Chi: 

  • Strengthens the lower body, improves posture, promotes flexibility

  • Increases a person’s awareness of where the body is in space and improves one’s ability to navigate obstacles while walking 

  • If you should trip, Tai Chi can enhance your ability to catch yourself before you fall 

  • Counters the fear of falling, which discourages people from being physically active and further increases their likelihood of falling and being injured 

Brody, J. (2018, September 10) Using Tai Chi to Build Strength. The New York Times 

 

From the Mayo Clinic, Healthy Lifestyle – Stress Management: “Tai Chi helps reduce stress and anxiety. And it also helps increase flexibility and  balance.”

When learned correctly and performed regularly, Tai Chi can be a positive part of an overall approach to improving your health. The benefits of Tai Chi may include: 

  • Decreased stress, anxiety, and depression 

  • Improved mood 

  • Improved aerobic capacity 

  • Increased energy and stamina 

  • Improved flexibility, balance and agility/mobility 

  • Improved muscle strength and definition 

  • Enhanced quality of sleep 

  • Enhanced immune system 

  • Lowered blood pressure 

  • Improved joint pain 

  • Improved overall well-being 

  • Reduced risk of falls in older adults

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2021, February 26) Healthy Lifestyle: Stress Management [Tai Chi].  Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. 

 

Dr. Peter Wayne, author of the Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi,  describes Tai Chi practice in terms of “eight active ingredients”: 

1. Awareness: Tai chi practice develops focus and mindful awareness.  

2. Intention: Tai chi practice actively uses images and visualization to enhance its health effects.  

3. Structural Integration: Tai chi practice focuses on good posture and how a person positions the body. Good body positioning leads to better body function, and better function leads to better posture.  

4. Active Relaxation: Tai chi practice is a form of moving meditation, using flowing and relaxing movements.  

5. Strengthening and Flexibility: Tai chi uses slow movements that are done repetitively. Weight is shifted from leg-to-leg and different parts of the body are flexed and extended.  

6. Natural, Freer Breathing: Tai chi practice teaches breathing skills, leading to many health benefits.  

7. Social Support: Tai chi practice can involve being a part of a group class. This allows people to form community.  

8. Embodied Spirituality: Tai chi practice allows the body, mind, and spirit to work together which helps a person focus on how they connect with others around them. 

Minichiello, V. (2020, May 29) Introduction to Tai Chi and Qi Gong for Whole Health. Whole  Health Information for Veterans. U.S Department of Veterans Affairs. 

 
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