Tai Chi is a very popular form of exercise that has its origins as a martial art and is used today by millions of people as a daily form of exercise. Tai Chi or Taiji is a great low impact and easy to learn exercise consisting of gentle flowing movements of the arms and legs combined with rhythmic breathing and shifting of the body weight from one side of the body to the other. People often find that after just a few weeks of regular Tai Chi practice, they have better energy, less joint pain, improved balance, and experience better moods.
I personally started practicing tai chi in my early 20s after being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and I was amazed at how much better my energy and moods were after a few weeks of regular practice. This was the beginning of my journey through Chinese medicine that eventually led to being an acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist. I have tried to maintain my practice throughout the years and I had an opportunity when I visited China in 2009 to learn a new form under a very accomplished teacher which was totally different from what I had learned. There are many, many different forms of Tai Chi exercises, each developed from a different school or family and were passed down to students who then modified and changed them resulting in even more styles.
Tai Chi is considered a form of Nei Gong, or internal martial arts, rather than Wei Gong, or external martial arts like Karate or Kung Fu. Internal martial arts focus on the cultivation of internal energy and the ability to utilize that energy at will rather than external martial arts which focus on the development of strength and speed. It is often said that the internal martial arts practitioner will often become stronger and faster as they age, while the external martial arts practitioner will become weaker and slower. The idea behind this is that years of internally cultivating your body’s natural energy and learning how to use it will keep you strong and fast, while on the other hand your muscles will eventually get weaker and slower as you age if you do not cultivate your internal energy. Often times these approaches are combined through the use of external martial arts combined with Qi gong practice. Qi Gong is a form of standing or moving meditation with the intention of cultivating and circulating the body’s natural internal energy. Similar to Tai Chi, there are a multitude of forms of Qi gong, all with different goals and methods.
The idea behind how Tai Chi works is based on several principles. In addition to the above discussed ideas of internal energy cultivation, Tai Chi utilizes shifting of body weight from one side to the other to strengthen the legs and improve balance, as well as rotating movements of the torso designed to massage the internal organs, stimulating them and increasing their function. Tai Chi practice also helps to increase circulation throughout the body which results in a reduction of pain. The movements are gentle and calm, which helps to improve mood through relaxation.
Tai Chi and Qi gong are great exercises that can easily be added to your daily routine that will help you to lead a full and healthy life. You don’t need to invest a lot of time or money into it, as even a simple daily practice can provide excellent benefits. Check out the video below to get you started!
If you are in Aurora CO, Denver CO, or any of the surrounding cities and have any questions about Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Chinese medicine or any health issues, please do not hesitate to call or email me, I would love to speak with you!