The Benefits of Tai Chi include:
* Reducing anxiety and depression.
* Improving balance and coordination.
* Reducing the number of falls.
* Improving sleep quality, such as staying asleep longer at night and feeling more alert during the day.
* Slowing bone loss in women after menopause
* Lowering blood pressure
* Improving cardiovascular fitness<
* Relieving chronic pain
* Improving everyday physical functioning
Tai chi, sometimes called tai chi chuan, is a noncompetitive, self-paced system of gentle physical exercise and stretching. To do tai chi, you perform a series of postures or movements in a slow, graceful manner. Each posture flows into the next without pausing. Anyone, regardless of age or physical ability, can practice tai chi. It doesn't take physical prowess. Rather, tai chi emphasizes technique over strength.
Tai chi chuan (traditional Chinese: simplified Chinese; pinyin: taijiquan; Wade-Giles: t'ai chi ch'uan) is an internal Chinese martial art often practiced for health reasons. Tai chi is typically practiced for a variety of reasons: its soft martial techniques, demonstration competitions, health and longevity. Consequently, a multitude of training forms exist, both traditional and modern, which correspond to those aims. Some of tai chi chuan's training forms are well known to Westerners as the slow motion routines that groups of people practice together every morning in parks around the world, particularly in China.
Today, tai chi has spread worldwide. Most modern styles of tai chi trace their development to at least one of the five traditional schools: Chen, Yang, Wu/Hao, Wu and Sun. The origins and creation of tai chi are a subject of much argument and speculation. However, the oldest documented tradition is that of the Chen family from the 1820s.
What is Qi (Ch'i)?
Qi is a widely used word in China that has many meanings.
The Chinese written character for qi is very old and the ancient meaning was grain offered to guests. It is easy to see from the meaning of the elements (radicals) of the character.
The inner radical with the crossed lines and small lines in the diagonals means rice.The covering line that moves from horizontal to a downward arc represents a lid, as a lid covering a pot. The lines above the lid represent steam coming from under the lid.
Basically, qi means energy and in terms of T'ai Chi Ch'uan, it commonly refers to intrinsic energy that flows through the body, often in association with the flow of blood. Everyone has qi. When they die, it leaves the body. There is Yin qi and Yang qi.
In general terms, qi is often referred to as air, gas and vapor, or the breath. It can also mean spirit, character or influence and bearing. When a person has a certain style in what they do, it is said they have a particular kind of qi. An artist, such as a calligrapher, is said to express a certain kind of qi in his work.
There are many different kinds of qi. We are born with what is called original qi, which we get from our parents. This is the qi that resides primarily in our dantian. The qi that we accumulate during our daily life comes from air we breathe and food we eat. It is said to be cultivated qi. Since the original qi tends to be used up, it is important to replenish it. This can be done with breathing exercises such as qigong, meditation, and T'ai Chi Ch'uan.
In T'ai Chi Ch'uan, some of the goals are to increase the amount of qi, to improve the quality of qi, to ensure that it flows freely and is not blocked. The goal is also to achieve a balanced Yin and Yang qi.
Qi can be experienced in many ways. Most commonly, it is through warmth in the hands and feet or an itchy feeling in the hands. At different times in one's practice, it is felt in different ways. But the goal in T'ai Chi Ch'uan is not to feel the qi, but to make sure it is not blocked and to be able to direct it by one's intention.
It is commonly said that one should sink the qi to the dantian, which is an energy center in the lower abdomen. One of the reasons for this is so the energy cannot get stuck in the upper torso or the head.
Because of the need to deal with intellectual and emotional problems in daily life, the qi rises to the head and does not circulate freely through the rest of the body. This produces an imbalance that can produce fatigue, anger, depression, and conflict.
Sinking the qi helps to reassert the healthy flow of qi through the meridians, or pathways, that are the basis for acupuncture treatments. In T'ai Chi Ch'uan, one of the goals is to be able to gather the qi in the dantian and from there distribute it to the legs and the rest of the body during practice of the form and self-defense applications, as well as during daily life.
At higher levels, qi is transmuted into shen, or spirit. And for health and in the martial arts, it is used to produce jin, or internal strength. Qi, itself, is said to come from jing, or the generative energy. Together, the jing, qi, and shen are sometimes referred to as the Three Treasures.
The process of working with the qi involves a mindfulness that helps to amplify the qi and the development of intention that can guide your effort and the qi, itself.-Marvin Smalheiser
Reiki, when activated and applied for the purpose of healing, addresses the body, mind, and spirit, as well as the relationships among them. Reiki accelerates the body's ability to heal physical ailments and opens the mind and spirit to the causes of disease and pain. The emphasis in Reiki is on taking responsibility for your life and the joys of balanced wellness.
Tai Chi for Health Purposes -
Tai chi (pronounced "tie chee" and also known by some other names and spellingsa) is a mind-body practice that originated in China as a martial art. A person doing tai chi moves his body slowly and gently, while breathing deeply and meditating (tai chi is sometimes called "moving meditation"). Many practitioners believe that tai chi helps the flow throughout the body of a proposed vital energy called qiIn traditional Chinese medicine, the vital energy or life force proposed to regulate a person's spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical health and to be influenced by the opposing forces of yin and yang. (pronounced "chee," it means "air" or "power"). In the United States, tai chi for health purposes is part of complementary and alternative medicine, or CAM. This Backgrounder provides a general overview of tai chi and suggests some resources you can use to find more information.
Among the different names and spellings of tai chi are taiji and t'ai chi. Many consider the term "tai chi" to be a shortened form of "tai chi chuan" (two other spellings are t'ai chi ch'uan and taijiquan).
A Description of Tai Chi
Tai chi developed in China in about the 12th century A.D. It started as a martial art, or a practice for fighting or self-defense, usually without weapons. Over time, people began to use tai chi for health purposes as well. Many different styles of tai chi, and variations of each style, developed. The term "tai chi" has been translated in various ways, such as "internal martial art," "supreme ultimate boxing," "boundless fist," and "balance of the opposing forces of nature." While accounts of tai chi's history often differ, the most consistently important figure is a Taoist monk (and semilegendary figure) in 12th-century China named Chang San-Feng (or Zan Sanfeng). Chang is said to have observed five animals-tiger, dragon, leopard, snake, and crane-and to have concluded that the snake and the crane, through their movements, were the ones most able to overcome strong, unyielding opponents. Chang developed an initial set of exercises that imitated the movements of animals. He also brought flexibility and suppleness in place of strength to the martial arts, as well as some key philosophical concepts.
A person practicing tai chi moves her body in a slow, relaxed, and graceful series of movements. One can practice on one's own or in a group. The movements make up what are called forms (or routines). Some movements are named for animals or birds, such as "White Crane Spreads Its Wings." The simplest style of tai chi uses 13 movements; more complex styles can have dozens.
In tai chi, each movement flows into the next. The entire body is always in motion, with the movements performed gently and at uniform speed. It is considered important to keep the body upright, especially the upper body-many tai chi practitioners use the image of a string that goes from the top of the head into the heavens-and to let the body's weight sink to the soles of the feet.
In addition to movement, two other important elements in tai chi are breathing and meditationA conscious mental process using certain techniques-such as focusing attention or maintaining a specific posture-to suspend the stream of thoughts and relax the body and mind..b In tai chi practice, it is considered important to concentrate; put aside distracting thoughts; and breathe in a deep, relaxed, and focused manner. Practitioners believe that this breathing and meditation have many benefits, such as:
Massaging the internal organs. Aiding the exchange of gases in the lungs. Helping the digestive system work better. Increasing calmness and awareness. Improving balance.
Other Key Beliefs in Tai Chi -
Certain concepts from Chinese philosophy were important in tai chi's development (although not every person who practices tai chi for health purposes, especially in the West, learns or uses them). A few are as follows:
A vital energy called qi underlies all living things.
Qi flows in people through specific channels called meridians.
Qi is important in health and disease.
Tai chi is a practice that supports, unblocks, and redirects the flow of qi.
Another concept in tai chi is that the forces of yin and yangThe concept of two opposing yet complementary forces described in traditional Chinese medicine. Yin represents cold, slow, or passive aspects of the person, while yang represents hot, excited, or active aspects. A major theory is that health is achieved through balancing yin and yang and disease is caused by an imbalance leading to a blockage in the flow of qi. should be in balance. In Chinese philosophy, yin and yang are two principles or elements that make up the universe and everything in it and that also oppose each other. Yin is believed to have the qualities of water-such as coolness, darkness, stillness, and inward and downward directions-and to be feminine in character. Yang is believed to have the qualities of fire-such as heat, light, action, and upward and outward movement-and to be masculine. In this belief system, people's yin and yang need to be in balance in order for them to be healthy, and tai chi is a practice that supports this blance.
Putting tai chi into practice
To reap the greatest stress reduction benefits from tai chi, consider practicing it regularly. Many people find it helpful to practice tai chi in the same place and at the same time every day to develop a routine. But if your schedule is erratic, do tai chi whenever you have a few minutes.
You can even draw on the soothing concepts of tai chi without performing the actual movements if you get stuck in stressful situations - a traffic jam or a work conflict, for instance.