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With a long history, Tai Chi originated in China over 300 years ago and has long been considered a martial art. However, its origins suggest that it was used primarily as a form of self-defence. More recent times have seen Tai Chi evolve and the practice is now regarded as an ‘internal martial art’ that can improve a person’s health. Sometimes referred to as ‘meditation in motion’, Tai Chi encompasses both mind and body, marrying physical fitness with mindfulness.

The embedded PDF looks at the spread of traditional Chinese health practices worldwide.

Isis Monteverde

What Exactly Is Tai Chi?

Practising Tai Chi requires fluid and synchronised movement, thereby creating an uninterrupted flow. The body should be loose and relaxed to allow people to shift their weight from one side to the other. The physical movement is not the sole focus of Tai Chi; those who practise the martial art also need to learn to breathe deeply and focus the mind. There can be as few as 13 positions in a session to dozens.

What Are the Physical Health Benefits of Tai Chi?

The health benefits of Tai Chi are numerous, as fitness enthusiast Isis Monteverde knows from experience. Balance issues, coordination and agility can be significantly improved through the practice. In addition, the repetition of the slow, considered motion from one leg to the other and back helps to build the strength of the leg muscles.

Furthermore, people suffering from health conditions could benefit from Tai Chi. Older adults practising Tai Chi on a regular basis may see improved balance, resulting in a reduction in falls; a benefit also experienced by sufferers of Parkinson’s disease. Research also shows that the immune system can be boosted by the martial art, improving brain function, quality of sleep and helping to manage pain.

As fast-paced as today’s society is, it is more crucial than ever that we find ways of boosting our mental health. Research has indicated that practitioners of Tai Chi are less likely to suffer from anxiety, depression and the effects of stress.

How Can Beginners Get Started?

Beginners should try out a class to get to grips with the various movements, whether in person or online, helping them to master the motions before combining them into sequences. Concentrating on posture is key; maintaining a strong, upright stance is essential for the practice of Tai Chi, as well as keeping joints loose and relaxed with a low centre of gravity.