Ever wondered why Chinese people practice slow-dancing martial art?
Chinese culture teaches people to prioritise their health. Children are raised to dedicate a set amount of time to physical activities like Tai chi. It's also practised in schools.
Regardless of age, Tai chi is a favourite sport for most natives as it is good for health and involves minimal muscle activity. In China, it is practised more among elderly people.
Tai chi is the best exercise for people of all ages as it involves lesser muscle strength. If you ever go to China, you can always see a bunch of groups performing Tai chi in parks.
But Is Tai chi easy than yoga? No, not for beginners. You might find yoga and Tai chi equally tough or easy. But considering the intensity of practice, Tai chi is tougher. But it's fun, so do give it a shot.
Table of Contents
Traditional Tai Chi
Shadowboxing or Tai chi is well known for its foundation in Chinese culture. The famous Chinese martial art is often portrayed on screen by Chinese film stars. Every Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee move resembles some part of Tai chi.
Have you ever wondered how easy it is for you to learn Tai chi? Yes, You read it right; one can easily learn Tai chi.
For better understanding, Tai chi can be decoded into three words – Meditation, Movement and Breathing. For each step, your body should move, and your breathing should be slow and steady.
Movement: Steady-paced movements involving hands, body and legs. Traditional Tai chi movements were structured to promote health benefits.
Meditation: As already said above, Tai chi improves mental health. It relieves stress and improves focus, thereby maintaining a yin-yang balance.
Breathing: Tai chi combines the aforementioned with breathing exercises.
Many researchers support Tai chi practice as a good form of exercise, especially for people suffering from Diabetes, Stroke, Heart failure, Myalgia, Parkinson’s disease, Cancer, and Arthritis.
Some studies also suggested Tai chi practice for people with chronic respiratory system disorders like COPD (respiratory distress where the airway is blocked and air passage is compromised). Unlike any cardio, Tai chi doesn't cause hyperventilation or difficulty breathing.
In elderly people, Tai chi could play an important role in maintaining a healthy life free from myalgia, breathing issues, stress and depression.
Researchers studied ai chi and its effect on the Covid pandemic. The study suggested positive differences in the psycho-emotional state, cognition, and relaxation.
Old age people are more prone to falling. This is mainly because of balance impairment. A 2012 study reviewed 159 participants (randomised control trials) who practised Tai chi and found that it prevents the risk of falling (improves balance control and flexibility) in older people.
Some people believe that a 12-week Tai chi course could show a significant improvement in symptoms of muscle stiffness and pain. Another study from 2015 involving 3913 participants proved that practising Tai chi helps in improving physical function for knee osteoarthritis patients.
Mental Health and Cognition
A 2014 study with 2553 adults aged over 60 years concluded the cognitive functional benefits of Tai chi in older people. A 2015 review involving 632 Tai chi participants also showed substantial improvement in the cognitive ability of individuals.
Modern Tai Chi
Modern Tai chi has evolved from the practice of traditional Chinese Tai chi. Traditional Tai chi was practised in need of a defence martial art. But in modern Tai chi, defence is an extra accessory. It is primarily practised for health benefits. So the intensity of training and muscle strength usage is less in modern Tai chi. There are quite a few styles of Tai chi.
Some of them are:
- Chen style
- Yang style
- Wu Hao style
- Wu style
- Sun style
More than 100 moves are there in Tai chi. Always start with simpler and small moves and gain expertise in them. Gradually start practising difficult moves.
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How To Start Tai Chi Practice?
Here are some of the steps you should consider before starting practice:
- Consult a doctor if you have health ailments.
- Be prepared to learn a new language/culture, and don’t restrict yourself.
- Consider researching the art before diving into it.
- Talk to already practising people for more insights.
- Find an instructor either nearby or through online resources.
- Wear comfortable clothes.
- Unlike any other physical exercise, Tai chi doesn’t require a major investment. All you need is a calm mind and a flexible body to start practising Tai chi. Even if you don’t find an instructor, you can find free resources online.
“Tai chi”, “meditation in motion”, or “shadow boxing” is a martial art founded in China. It involves low-impact movements in slow-paced motion. Tai chi helps improve both physical and mental health. Anyone can practice Tai chi, especially elderly people, people with health ailments (limited ailments) and physically inactive people.