Tai Chi or Tai Chi Chuan is an ancient Chinese fighting and exercise system that combines movement, breath regulation and meditation to enhance the flow of vital energy in the body. Tai Chi consists of slow, graceful movements and is still practiced in China and elsewhere in the world. It is considered to improve blood circulation and augment the immune functions of the body.
In China it is estimated that over 200 million people practice Tai Chi everyday. Today, these stylized renditions of original foot and arm blows make one of the most broadly applicable systems of self care in the world. Literally translated, Tai Chi Chuan means ‘The Grand and Ultimate Way of Life’. Although it was once a leading martial arts movement, it is now generally practiced as a non-competitive and non-combat sport that increases one’s ability to focus, relax and become healthy.
The slow, rhythmic movements that Tai Chi teaches is considered therapeutic because it returns the skeletal structure, muscles and the various organs to its natural alignment. The series of very simple, almost dance-like movements are designed to improve coordination, relieve stress and promote the overall well-being of a person.
The powerful force that lies behind the exercises is the ancient Chinese belief of Yin and Yang – the two mutually complementary forces of nature. The Taiji symbol is represented as a circle that is divided between a light and a dark half; Yin is the dark force characterized as passive, dark and cold, Yang is the force of light characterized by warmth, light, action and expression. The two forces together create a grand harmony in life that ensures the physical, mental and emotional health of a person.
As opposed to the various ‘hard’ styles of martial arts, Tai Chi is soft, flowing and relaxing. Tai Chi training teaches one to be aware of one’s own balance and the influences that upset this balance. Because of its benefits of health and health maintenance, people who are put off by other forms of martial arts training are also attracted by Tai Chi.
The slow and repetitive movements in Tai Chi are supposed to gently increase the internal circulation of all body fluids, thus enabling a person to achieve perfect internal balance. Over time, the effects of Tai Chi include a lasting positive aura that deflects the negative energy created by stress. Thus a person is able to lead a more positive, focused and wholesome life. According to teachers of Tai Chi, this form of self-healing constantly challenges a person’s ability to change himself/herself in response to outside forces.
Tai Chi’s popularity has a lot to do with the calming effects it has on the body and mind. In its endeavor to turn the individual towards the inner self and the inner energy that is at the core of life, it is able to establish a calmness and peacefulness. In his efforts to grapple with stress, tension and pain, perhaps this kind of inner relief is what modern man yearns for the most.
Alternative Holistic Medicine