Learn this exercise and experience amazing Tai chi benefits
Whenever we hear the term ‘martial arts’, we associate it with fighting, kicking and punching and not with slow, rhythmic, meditative body movements. It is generally linked to aggressive fighting and not with inner calm and peace. However, Tai chi is different from the rest of the lot. It involves slow, rhythmic, graceful body movements, which are designed for relaxation, inner peace and calm. Originally developed for self-defense, Tai chi has evolved into a graceful form of exercise that helps in treating several health conditions. In this article I will perticularly focus light on different types of Tai Chi and how Tai Chi Benefits you.
Tai chi benefits
It is a common belief in China that the practice of Tai chi can delay ageing and prolong life. Other Tai chi benefits, as believed by the Chinese, include increased flexibility, strong muscles and tendons, aid in the treatment of heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis, digestive disorders, skin diseases, and cancer. Unfortunately, there is not enough scientific evidence to support these claims. Tai chi benefits that have documented evidence to prove their effectiveness are the following.
- Improved balance
- Fall prevention
- Eliminates fear of falling
- Improved self confidence
- Improved strength, endurance and flexibility
- Increased aerobic capacity
- Increased walking speed
- Reduced stress
In addition, Tai chi benefits individuals suffering from Parkinson’s disease, chronic heart failure, fibromyalgia, diabetes and depression.
Styles of Tai chi
There are five different styles of Tai chi each with their own methods and principles.
Chen Style: It is the original style of Tai chi from which the Yang-style was created, and its movements vary a lot from other tai chi styles. It demands more of physical coordination, and may strain the lower back and knees, more than the other styles.
Yang Style: It is the most popular tai chi style with 24 movements in simple form and 108 movements in traditional form. A demanding style that forces you to keep your stance wide and knees bent most of the times.
Wu or Wu (Hao) Style: It is an exceedingly rare form of tai chi with extremely small movements. The focus is more on the internal energy (chi) movement rather than physical motions.
Sun Style: It is the most modern form of all the five styles. This style has the advantage of the influence of three styles-Baguaquan, Xingyiquan and Tai chi. It uses Baguaquan’s stepping method, Xingyiquan’s leg and waist methods and Tai chi’s body softness.
Tai chi origins: Qi and Qigong
Human beings are considered as miniature versions of the universe, in Chinese medicine. They are made of five elements- earth, fire, water, metal and wood-like the rest of the universe. These five elements flow in an interrelated manner throughout the body as five phases of the universal Qi. Qi is defined as the life force or intrinsic energy in the body that travels along pathways called meridians.
Tai chi has originated from Qigong, a discipline involving the mind, breath and movement to create a calm, natural balance of energy. This energy can be used for self-defense, work and recreation. Just like yoga, where many varieties have evolved over the centuries, there are more than 3000 varieties of qigong and five major traditions. These are —
- Martial arts
- Soft and hard
Soft qigong is also known as inner qigong of which tai chi is an example.