Bust Your Stress - How? By Learning All About Tai Chi
Have you considered that Tai Chi is meditation through movement?
I’m sure that most of you have heard the phrase move it or lose it. And let me tell you, that’s absolutely true. As humans, we’re designed to move. The less active one is, the greater chance there is of losing flexibility and the ease of movement. And the older you get, the tougher it can be to sustain a complicated exercise regimen. Or you may have days when you want to exercise in a way that’s more relaxed than doing something like Zumba (which is a great exercise by the way).
That’s where Tai Chi comes in. Tai Chi is an effective workout anyone can enjoy by mastering a few simple basics.
According to the Tai Chi Foundation, in Chinese its translation is Supreme Ultimate. There are several theories about how Tai Chi got started, but it most likely had some beginning in martial arts. Tai Chi is a low impact workout that you can do alone or in groups with no special equipment. And you can do it anywhere – at home or outside in the park.
As with any new exercise routine, you should talk with your doctor before starting a Tai Chi practice. Although there have been studies which show that Tai Chi can help manage conditions like arthritis, high blood pressure, and chronic pain, it may not be the best form of exercise for you. Ask your physician if it’s right for you.
The Benefits of Tai Chi
Enjoy a whole-body workout. Engaging your whole body burns more calories and massages your vital organs. Tai Chi helps you build strength and flexibility and slows down bone loss.
Brighten your mood. The dance-like steps in Tai Chi are a proven antidote for stress. Let your mind slow down and relax. Concentrating on coordinating your feet and hands will help you let go of your worries and live in the present moment.
Develop correct posture. Tai Chi teaches proper alignment, so you’ll look better and have better posture. It also relieves backaches and helps get your digestion system humming right along.
Enhance your coordination. That one is close to my heart! 😊 Tai Chi consists of rhythmic movements in which you sway your body and shift your weight around. That helps give you a greater sense of balance. Your daily activities will become easier, and you’ll reduce your risk for accidental falls and injuries as you’re more steady on your feet.
Tai Chi Basics
1. Get into position. Lift your head and tuck your pelvis. Draw your shoulders down and back. As your chest opens, you automatically start breathing deeper.
2. Work both sides. Any movement that’s done on your left side should also be done on your right and vice versa. Most beginners will discover that they have a dominant side, but you can enhance your symmetry with practice.
3. Breathe from your abdomen. Inhale from your lower abdomen, drawing air upwards through your middle abdomen and chest. Exhale in reverse. Match your breath to your movement but avoid holding your breath.
4. Warm up and cool down. Warm ups will put you in a more receptive frame of mind and helps prepare the body for exercise. Cool downs help relieve any discomfort that may build up in your muscles or joints.
5. Boost your energy. Traditional beliefs about Tai Chi credit it for getting your Qi, or life energy, flowing. Try massaging the pressure point in your palms after your warm up and before your regular session.
6. Practice standing meditation. Some Tai Chi routines include a meditation that you can perform while standing up. Mastering Tai Chi will give you a meditation technique you can use anytime during the day to generate peace and contentment.
7. Study independently It’s easy to get started with Tai Chi and there are many opportunities to go deeper. Visit your local library or ask for books and DVDs on Tai Chi. This will help you explore it's underlying philosophy and its various forms.
8. Find an instructor. Tai Chi looks simple, but good form is required to reap all of its benefits. It is gaining in popularity and because of that you can now find qualified instructors all around the country.
Tai Chi is great for both your mental and physical well-being. It will help you manage your stress before your stress manages you. It’s all about making time.
Let’s talk. What is your favorite thing about Tai Chi? A particular stance? How it makes you feel? Let me know in the comments section.
Cassandra Martin-Himmons is a trainer, wellness coach and consultant who believes in empowering her clients and providing the tools that they need to make positive changes in their lives to manage their stress and increase their self-care. In her spare time, she enjoys papercrafting, volunteering and travel. Connect with her on Instagram or Linked/In