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Tai Chi - Meditation in motion

The practice of meditation takes many forms. Here I briefly explore Tai Chi, it's history and benifits.

Tai chi, often referred to as meditation in motion, is actually an ancient martial art based on principles over 3,000 years old. It's literal translation is supreme ultimate fist. It combines deep breathing and relaxation with flowing movements.

When trying to trace the exact origins of Tai Ci there is little more to go on other than legends. The most widespread of these is of Chang San-Feng. Legend states that he observed a fight between a snake and a bird. He noticed that every time the bord attacked, the snake would dodge slightly sideways whilst maintaining a circular shape. From the Chang San-Feng learned the value of yielding in the face of strength. Studying the movements of the snake, bird, other wild animals and natural phenomena and then taking what he had learned he devised Tai Chi.

Many of its movements are vivid examples of natures lessons. Again, the exact details are unknown, but it is said that eventually Tai Chi was passed down onto a family named Chen. The Chen family kept Tai Chi a secret for fourteen generations!

Around the eighteenth century a young man with an active interest in self-defence, called Yang Lu-Chan, discovered the Chen family secret!

Yang Lu-Chan travelled to the Chen household seeking a job as a servant. While working for them he watched secretly as they practiced Tai Chi and then practiced himself while he was alone.

One night, old master Chen discovered him practicing alone and was so impressed with his enthusiasm that, rather than punish the servant, he broke the families 400 year old tradition and accepted him as a student. And so Tai Chi was introduced to the world.

So how does Tai Chi work?

Within your body there are meridians, or pathways, which travel through your body carrying energy. This energy is known as Qi (Chi). Tai Chi promotes the smooth flow of this energy. By performing the postures and movements of Tai Chi, along with the relaxed, natural breathing and focusing of the mind (Yi) the Qi (Chi) is helped to move smoothly through the meridians.

What are the benefits?

Although Tai Chi is very slow and gentle it addresses key components of fitness such as muscle strength, flexibility and balance.

When learned correctly and performed regularly, tai chi can be a positive part of an overall approach to improving your health. The benefits of tai chi may include:

  • Decreased stress, anxiety and depression

  • Improved mood

  • Improved aerobic capacity

  • Increased energy and stamina

  • Improved flexibility, balance and agility

  • Improved muscle strength and definition

  • Enhance quality of sleep

  • Enhance the immune system

  • Help lower blood pressure

  • Improve joint pain

  • Improve symptoms of congestive heart failure

  • Improve overall well-being

Stanford university researchers studied 39 men and women with below average fitness. Those in the study had an average age of 66.

After taking 36 Tai Chi classes over a period of 12 weeks, all showed improvement in both lower and upper body flexibility as well as muscle strength! The women in the study also showed significantly improved upper and lower body flexibility.

An art embracing the mind, body and spirit, Tai Chi is one of the most effective exercises for the health of your mind, body and soul.

Although an art with great depth of knowledge and skill, it can be easy to learn and soon delivers its health benefits.

For many, it continues as a beautiful lifetime journey.

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