Incorporating tai chi into your lifestyle

Some martial arts are very meditative – like tai chi, which has grown in popularity outside its native China over the last few decades.

With origins that date back to the 12th century, tai chi is a form of defence training like karate, but is now pursued for its health benefits in many countries.

The health benefits of tai chi

So what exactly is tai chi, and what health benefits can it bestow? Tai chi, also called tai chi chuan, involves a range of bodily manoeuvres that help with balance, joint movement and muscle flexibility. The discipline focuses on deep breathing, relaxation and meditation, and in that way is similar to the ancient Indian art of yoga.

Since it can be practised both outdoors and indoors, and in quite a small physical space, tai chi is particularly popular in urban centres. It’s not uncommon, for instance, to find large groups of people in Central Park in New York practising tai chi in the open air.

Some people choose to cover the full breadth of tai chi, including its defence-related aspects. However, many others decide to focus purely on its health giving properties. For people aged over 60, tai chi can be particularly beneficial, as this NHS advice page on tai chi explains. Its meditative qualities can help to reduce stress while its gentle physical demands can help ageing bodies improve balance, mobility and muscle strength.

As the NHS indicates, tai chi is often favoured by people who suffer from osteoporosis and arthritis. And since it doesn’t demand a great deal from your body, it’s the perfect way to reintroduce yourself to exercise if you haven’t been active for several years.

For more information on tai chi, take a look at what the Tai Chi Union of Great Britain has to say. This national organisation may also help you find a class in your area.

Is tai chi right for you?

The fluid movements of tai chi may look difficult but it’s important to remember that you’re never too old to start learning this martial arts discipline. Since it’s a low impact exercise, it’s easy to get started and will help you build up your stamina levels gradually. You may even find that after several months of doing tai chi, your body is prepared for more intense exercise.

The best way to find out if tai chi is right for you is simply to drop in to a class. It’s always better to try tai chi in person, rather than copying an instructor from an online video or DVD. That’s because you need someone to tell you that your moves are correct and to ensure that you get the style right.

If you have an existing injury or recurring bodily pains, make sure your teacher knows about them before you start a class. When performed correctly, tai chi should not cause you any injury – but if a particular move hurts your body, ask your teacher for a less challenging variation.


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Grey lady 13
3rd Feb 2017
Thanks for voting!
My father used to say that the mind can heal the body, and I am a great believer in this.
Meditation is good, but doesn't have to be done like clockwork.
What we tell ourselves has great impact on our lives.
Our brains are like powerful computers, what we tell ourselves creates pathways. These can be good or bad, depending on our thoughts.
Press too many buttons, and we will crash.
A mantra, said on a regular basis, is very helpful.
My own is REPAIR, RESTORE, RENEW, and I say this every morning as part of my getting ready for the day.
Whether it helps me psychologically, or physically - who cares, as long as it works.
26th Dec 2016
Thanks for voting!
In the past I had a very good habit of meditation going, 9 years every day. Then due to a very stressful event I just stopped.
As a young man I took part in the M Arts. So I can see how combining both as Tai Chi does can bring so many health benefits.
Its going to be one of my aims next year to join such a class where I hope I can meet like minded people. I rarely meet anyone who meditates let alone who understands meditation. It does not have to have a religion attached to its practice nor does one have to sit cross legged on the floor. Older Monks sit on chairs if they can no longer sit cross legged. Tai Chi seems wonderful, gentle movement in a mindful way. Bliss.
6th Nov 2016
Thanks for voting!
Living in the boondocks has it's drawbacks. No Tai Chi dojo's here.The only local gathering is for Zumba, too much prancing around for me.
After doing Tai Chi for several years before I had to move, I do miss having a Sensei and of being one with the class.

I am not daunted.
I bought a good Tai Chi CD and play it on my large flat screen TV.
I now have my own private dojo.
Can't live without Tai Chi and meditation.
Barbara Moore
3rd Jan 2014
Thanks for voting!
Locally we have an Energie for Women gym, which has Yoga, Tai Chi and Pilates, as well as half-hour classes, some seated in their programme. The social side is great too, and somewhere to escape and recover some 'me' time, It's just important to start ......... your body and mind feels so much better then.

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