What is Tai Chi? Part II

We’re continuing our discussion of Tai Chi with this second part of our general info on Tai Chi sequence. As always, if you’re a Maryville local, we teach several different Tai Chi classes at our school, Clear Silat’s Tai Chi in downtown Maryville, TN.

If you’re not a local, you’ll find this information even more valuable because you may not be able to take a class with a qualified instructor where you are (if you’re wondering about criteria for qualified Tai Chi instructors and instructor training, we’ve already done a sequence of blogs on that previously, so have a look through our posts.)

There are many styles of Tai Chi with different forms in terms of physical exertion, appearance and training methods. Each style has its own emphasis on various tai chi principles and methods. Some styles are suitable for more athletic people with a martial arts focus. Other styles provide special healing and relaxation. Tai chi can be performed standing or seated. Almost anyone can learn Tai Chi (Taichiuan, Taiji, Taichi, it’s called lots of things) regardless of their age or physical abilities.

You practice Tai Chi at your own pace.

A short form with smaller and slower movements is appropriate for beginners, especially older people.

It is important to find a Tai Chi form that is suitable for you and can meet your needs and interest. If you have any medical conditions or medications that can cause dizziness, talk with your doctor before starting Tai Chi. Tai chi is an inexpensive and safe exercise. Tai chi is non-competitive. It requires no special equipment and can be practiced indoors or outdoors and anytime (you can even do it while you’re waiting in line at the store).

Tai Chi for health: Practice of the form massages all the muscles and internal organs. Proper elimination of bodily wastes, contribution of hormones and other chemicals to regulate systems of the body are the result of proper practice of the form. In turn, the central processor (brain) is being supported with optimum function by internal systems. Even your eyes are getting a work out if you are “following the hand that leads.”

Internal discipline to consciously direct “balance” throughout the dance retrains and establishes muscle memory and redesigns the brain. Establishing boundaries that preserve balance maintains good health in every aspect of our lives. Most especially is this crucial as we age into our 80’s and 90’s. A body trained in how to move when balance is upset can mean the difference between OOOPS! and a broken bone, sprain or bruise. Applying reverse breathing, even if it is only the first breath at the beginning of practice for new students, brings about a conscious awareness of what you are feeling, the release of all unnecessary tension.

Being limp, devoid of all tension, is not the objective.

Rather, the image of “crisp lettuce” echoed throughout the practice serves a more useful purpose.

Tai Chi Chuan, through practice, is the discovery and the development of the optimum point of efficiency of the use of the human body. The mind is extremely slow to react compared to the trained body in response to physical threat. This needs to be considered when practicing Tai Chi. We’ll talk more about it when we do the next sequence in the blog.


Richard Clear (Posted by Sarah Vose)

What is Tai Chi? Part I

Tai Chi is a slow motion exercise that promotes mind and body health.  It is gentle and relaxing.  In fact, Tai Chi strengthens your mind and body through the power of Relaxation. Sounds simple, right?

There’s a lot more to it and practitioners of the art have spent lifetimes developing their technique and meditation practices.

Tai chi is a slow motion and low impact exercise that promotes health, mind, body and mental relaxation. It is practiced as an effective exercise for health through a series of flowing, graceful and gentle postures and movements.

The gentle flowing movements contain inner power that can strengthen the body, improve mental relaxation and mobilize joints and muscles. It is especially suitable as a therapy for arthritis because of the slow and gentle movements.

Here are some of the benefits:

  • Tai chi improves balance, strength, and flexibility and lowers the risk of falls. A study from the Oregon Research Institute found that tai chi improves balance and reduces frequency of falls and risks of falling among older people.
  • Tai chi also reduces pain, stiffness, and stress and improves sleep quality.
  • Researchers from Tufts University School of Medicine noted that patients over 65 years of age with knee osteoarthritis who practiced a 60-minute tai chi class, twice a week for 12 weeks showed a significant decrease in joint pain and stiffness compared with those in the control group.
  • They also found the patients in the tai chi group had improved physical function, self-efficacy, depression, and health status.
  • Both the Oregon and UCLA researchers reported that tai chi helped improve sleep quality in older adults.
  • Other UCLA studies also suggested that tai chi helps people reduce high blood pressure and tension headaches.
  • For people who carry extra weight and have a hard time doing exercises without pain, tai chi can be a gentle and safe way to get moving. A one-hour tai chi exercise can burn about 292 calories. By practicing tai chi and making wiser food choices, people can start burning calories and losing weight.

In this sequence, we’ll be learning more about what Tai Chi is as well as the health benefits of Tai Chi. If you’re a Maryville local thinking of taking classes, we offer Tai Chi instruction and classes several days a week, just take a look at our class schedule n the site.