What can Tai Chi do for me?
No matter what age you are, it’s never too late to do something about your health. As the Chinese classics say, “Only sick people get sick”. Tai Chi is a very gentle way to begin getting in tune with your body again, like you were when you were a child, full of boundless energy. This state can be achieved again through continuous daily practice of Tai Chi. It is considered the most subtle form of acupuncture, and it is practised by over 100 million people in China every day, and millions more around the globe. Why spend years on a health plan if you end up attached to machines, alone in a sterile environment, surrounded by strangers?
Many adults in today’s modern world are prematurely old. Poor nutrition, exhaustive working hours, mental stress, little exercise-sound familiar? Fuelling each other, these elements combine to produce a body strained to the limits, putting further pressure on the emotions, which are inextricably linked to the health of the body. So here you are. What can tai chi do for you? It depends what you put into it.
The Body Alignments are opened: Many people are tense in one or more parts of their bodies. The initial posture of Tai Chi helps re-educate people about their natural alignments; the ones they had as a child. In fact, the purpose of most Taoist Chi Gung is to make your body as relaxed, loose and full of energy as a child again. No-one can keep up with a child, especially when screaming for hours without any problem.
Tai Chi strengthens the nerves and eases stress: As you get stronger through continued practice, your nerves are strengthened and your body awareness is enhanced. You try to feel what is inside you. Most people have a very poor sense of feeling the “guts” inside them, yet this is what keeps you alive. Yes, those internal organs-heart, liver, spleen, kidney, lungs. Try to feel them so you can detect any problems long in advance. As your ability to relax improves, and your health is strengthened, work capacity is increased, and you find yourself less tired than you used to be. Moreover, the deep breathing induces bodily and mental calm as the heart rate is slowed (cardiac sinus arrhythmia) and the nerves of the Central Nervous Sysytem are soothed. Shallow rapid breathing can lead to tension and sometimes feelings of violent anger.
The blood is circulated without stress on the heart: Concerning the circulation of blood, the object of Tai Chi is not to make the heart pump more strongly, but to increase the elasticity of the vascular system so the heart doesn’t need to pump as strongly, which provides it with more rest. High blood pressure is the narrowing of the arteries through calcified deposits or stress which makes it difficult for the blood to move efficiently.
Tai Chi improves cardio-pulmonary function: Most people think that aerobic exercise is necessary to strengthen the heart and the lungs. While aerobic exercise does accomplish this, so does Tai Chi. Slow, deep, regular breathing and energy movement combine to work oxygen deeper into the tissues than regular exercise. In addition, the venous pumps in the legs are activated powerfully, allowing blood to get back to the heart efficiently. This prevents all sorts of circulatory disorders, like varicose veins.
The lymph pump, hence the immune system, is strengthened: The lymph fluids are moved primarily by tiny muscular contractions. The relatively fine muscular contractions improved by Tai Chi move lymph efficiently through the entire system and release the T4 white blood cells that help mop up invading pathogens. These actions, as well as the overall increase in energy that Tai Chi brings, strengthen the body’s immune response.
The synovial fluid is vitalised, bringing flexibility to the joints: Synovial fluid is found in the joints. It lubricates the joints, allowing joint flexibility, and when functioning normally helps prevent arthritis and rheumatism. Tai Chi works with the synovial fluid by compressing and expanding it, preventing and reversing all sorts of joint problems because the synovial fluid, and the joint cavities, have no vascular tissue. Only the pumping motion of movement brings nutrient-rich fluid in.
The muscle tissue gains elasticity: Tai Chi also causes muscle tissue to elongate. With the stretches of Tai Chi the muscles eventually attain a state akin to that of a springy rubber band.
The tendons are strengthened: Tai Chi also adds greater strength and elasticity to the tendons which contributes to the tremendous flexibility many Tai Chi practitioners have.
Tai Chi loosens the muscles and builds power: Tai Chi works with the muscles quite differently than typical exercises do. Tai Chi and other internal exercises build effortless power and looseness; the goal is a feeling of relaxed power. Relaxed power comes when the muscles just loosen up and allow the energy to flow through.
Coordination, balance, posture control, bone density, increased lung capacity and a feeling of mental well being are among the other myriad benefits. Mortgages do not decrease, nor do banks treat you better, but people might, as you exude deep confidence in your physical structure… Of course, eating correctly and having a mind that is stable help a lot too.
Balance in your life: Perhaps, just perhaps, a daily dose of Tai Chi might help you to inject some balance into other parts of your world, whether in work or at home, that need some balance.