[Video] Tai Chi for Health Meditation and Wellness

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What is Tai Chi?


Tai Chi Chuan, most often referred to as Tai Chi, developed in China over 2,000 thousand years ago. It combines the ancient practice of qi gong with Taoist philosophy, martial arts, and the anatomical teachings of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). One component of TCM's teachings link each part of the body to energy lines and points mapped throughout the human form.



 


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While practicing Tai Chi, a person builds and cultivates their chi, life force. They perform flowing meditative movements while standing and breathing slowly and deeply. The purpose of these postures or forms is to direct the life force throughout the body to create balance and health in the mind and body. The forms are based on natural phenomena, animals, plant life, and the elements.



A Tai Chi practice includes a series of prescribed movements memorized by the practitioner. Tai Chi may be practiced in a class setting or alone. There are five classical Tai Chi traditions derived from the founding families of each style and many variations of them have evolved over time. A practice may be short form, including 27 to 30 postures or long form covering 100 or more.



When people practice Tai Chi, they experience many mental and physical benefits. They experience improved memory, mental clarity, improved concentration and improved cognitive function.


Tai Chi practitioners also enjoy a heightened sense of well-being, emotional stability, and more stable moods. They also experience gains in strength and flexibility, lower blood pressure, improvements in circulation and metabolism as well as preservation of the joints and improved range of motion.





How Joints Work


When the joints engage to allow movement, the tissues that cover the areas where bones meet are compressed and released. They compress and release as the muscles direct the limbs to flex, rotate and extend.


This action causes the body to secrete synovial fluid around the joints. Synovial fluid has a viscous consistency and lubricates the joints to aid fluidity of movement; it also shields the cartilage at the end of bones from wear.


Range Of Motion


There are six types of joints in the body:


• Ball and socket; ex. hip

• Condyloid; ex. knuckles

• Gliding; ex. wrists

• Pivot; ex. joint between the radius and ulna

• Hinge; ex. elbow

• Saddle; ex. where carpal and metacarpal bones of the thumb meet


Range of motion refers to the extent to which a limb flexes, extends, and/or rotates in relationship to the joint. Range of motion tends to decline with age and lack of physical activity. One of Tai Chi's many benefits is its ability to preserve and enhance range of motion.


Tai Chi's flowing rounded movements take the joints through their full range of motion during each session. As a practitioner goes through the selected sequence of forms, their deep breathing allows the body to remain deeply relaxed while the movements fully lubricate the joints.


Tai Chi also employs a 70% rule. At any given time, the practitioner exerts only 70% of the effort required to initiate and follow through with the intended movement. Tai Chi facilitates a physical state without tension, which allows the body to move freely without stressing the joints, cartilage, or ligaments.


Since Tai Chi is a very low impact form of physical activity, it is accessible to most people regardless of age or fitness level. If a person has significant physical challenges, the practice may be adapted to fit their needs.


Tai Chi may be practiced from a seated position while the practitioner performs the movements to the best of their ability and visualizes the chi moving through their body. It is important to remember Tai Chi's mental aspects equal its physicals aspects in importance and impact.

Tai Chi can be learned by taking a class at a martial arts studio, community centers, gyms and even at local parks. There are also DVD programs and online videos that teach this practice. It is important to learn how to do Tai Chi correctly, which includes all three of its important elements, movement, meditation and breathing. Learning proper form and execution will yield the best results in obtaining the wealth of mental, physical, and emotional benefits that Tai Chi provides.



Mindful Meditation And Tai Chi: A Match Made In Heaven


Both mindful meditation and Tai Chi are wonderful practices based on ancient Asian practices that have been used in healing for thousands of years.


Western medicine takes a very different view of health care than Asian culture. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) believes that everybody has a qi (chee) or energy that flows throughout it, and when the qi is blocked or not flowing freely the body suffers “dis-ease.”



In TCM, prevention of “dis-ease” is key through regular practice of healing that support the flow of the qi. Western medicine takes a different approach to health care, most of which is based on treating symptoms once disease has occurred that typically involves pharmaceutical medications, like the seriously overprescribed psychotropic meds for various mental health issues like depression and anxiety.


Today, Western doctors are learning and accepting that TCM and its principles and healing methods can be of great benefit to anyone’s overall health and wellness.


Mindfulness meditation and Tai Chi are two such Asian practices that have been used in Eastern culture for thousands of years, and are enjoying immense popularity in the modern world in supporting health and well-being, making them viable and favorable techniques to prevent “dis-ease” or as complementary therapies to existing medial conditions.


These two techniques are based on practiced breathing and looking “inward” through meditation, which in turn, lead to an emphasis of disease prevention and the mind-body connection that has been shown in many studies to have serious benefits for the mind, body, and spirit.


Tai Chi


Tai Chi is the perfect mind-body exercise. You go through a series of fluid meditative movement that along with breathing brings about a wealth of health benefits. The movements are based on Tai Chi as a martial art, but in this case, they are performed slowly in a meditative fashion, mainly because such movement is conducive to healing and overall wellness.


It has been found that Tai Chi is an excellent healing art that helps mental illnesses, heart disease, arthritic and fibromyalgia pain, digestion, stress, just to name a few.

The practice promotes the flow of the qi. The meditative and breathing element allows one to calm the mind and illicit the relaxation response that benefits one long after a particular practice session is over.



Mindful Meditation


For people who want an added benefit, the use of mindful meditation can help along with Tai Chi to manage negative feelings and increase the flow of qi energy.


Mindful meditation is often done sitting in a comfortable chair or on the floor with your feet on the ground in order to ground your body. Like Tai Chi, you need to strongly focus on the in and out of your breath, turning your mind inward to relax all of you muscles in a progressive fashion.


Mindfulness meditation is unique in that it is not directed toward changing who we are; instead, it focuses on gaining awareness of our own essential reality in each and every moment. One term to describe it is “unconditionally present,” or to remain in the moment no matter what is happening.


Buddha’s teachings focused on the belief that the source of all suffering is a lack of acceptance or our constant desires and attempts to escape from our own reality. Sitting in mindfulness allows the opportunity to be present within that reality and who we really are, and this allows us to become aware of our own wisdom and to stop dwelling in our suffering that stems directly from trying to escape and deny pain and discomfort that is an inevitable part of life.



The Perfect Match


Both practices yield calm of mind and enlightenment and while either Tai Chi or meditation is effective alone, you can maximize your mind-body connection and affect healing by doing both practices.

The two complement each other perfectly and by practicing each one several times per week you will improve your ability to cope with life, stress, and your overall wellness and health.


For example, many people practice Tai Chi in the morning as a way of increasing flexibility and balancing the yin and yang energies within the body. You will be more refreshed in the morning after doing Tai Chi and can get on with the rest of your day with a more peaceful state of mind.


Meditation can be practiced any time of the day. Because it involves no specific movement, you can practice meditation behind your desk at work, on the bus, or at night before getting ready for bed. It can take as little as 15 minutes of meditation to calm your blood pressure, heart rate, and mind and to focus on acceptance of the moment.


Tai Chi and meditation are both similar and complementary one another. Modern Chinese people often turn to these practices in order to manage qi energy, and to prevent or control disease. Westerners have caught on to these ancient principles and it is estimated that more than 15 million people practice meditation in the US alone to enjoy its positive effect on health, wellbeing, and happiness.


Namaste


 


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