What is Tai Chi?
Tai chi is a noncompetitive martial art known for both its defense techniques and its health benefits. As an exercise, it comprises gentle physical exercise and stretching with mindfulness.
It has been shown to improve balance control, fitness, and flexibility, and to reduce the risk of falls in older people. It appears to reduce pain and the symptoms of depression.
Health benefits of tai chi
The benefits of tai chi are said to include the reduction of stress, anxiety, and depression, and the enhancement of mood, both in both healthy people and in those with chronic conditions.
Some of the benefits claimed for tai chi include:
- Better mood, with lower levels of depression, stress, and anxiety
- Greater aerobic capacity and muscle strength
- More energy and stamina
- Enhanced flexibility, balance, and agility
- Lower blood pressure and improved heart health
- Reduced Inflammation
- Fewer falls
- Other benefits are said to include better sleep quality and an enhanced immune system.
Research suggests that in people with fibromyalgia, tai chi can bring relief from joint pain and other symptoms.
How It Works
The ancient Chinese practices of tai chi and qi gong (pronounced CHEE-gung) combine slow, deliberate movements, meditation, and breathing exercises.
The routines were not designed to burn calories or raise your heart rate. Instead, both tai chi and qi gong are martial arts that can help your circulation, balance, and alignment.
The postures flow together without pause, making qi gong and tai chi look like slow, graceful dances that keep your body in constant motion. You can take a class or do the exercises outdoors, on your own, or with a group.
Intensity Level: Low
The moving meditation is a very low-impact exercise that puts minimal stress on joints and muscles.
Areas It Targets
Core: Yes. You won’t be doing moves like crunches, but you’ll be using your core muscles as you flow from move to move.
Arms: Yes. Your arms are part of the movements in these gentle martial arts.
Legs: Yes. You do the movements standing up, so tai chi and qi gong do use your leg muscles, but not in an intense way.
Glutes: Yes. The exercises don’t include positions that specifically target the glutes, but those muscles will be working as you move.
Back: Yes. Tai chi and qi gong use your whole body, including the muscles in your back.
Type of Exercise
Flexibility: Yes. The movements help improve flexibility.
Aerobic: No. These are moving meditations, not cardio workouts.
Strength: Yes. When you do qi gong and tai chi, you’re building strength in a subtle way. Your body weight is all you need. It’s not about powering through muscular poses, but about engaging your whole body.
Sport: No. It is not a sport.
Low-Impact: Yes. The gentle movements put minimal stress on the muscles and joints.
What Else You Should Know
Cost: Yes. The costs are minimal. To learn the movements, it’s best to sign up for a class or follow a DVD.
Good for Beginners: Both qi gong and tai chi are excellent practices for beginners.
Outdoors: Yes. Classes can be held indoors or outdoors.
At Home: Yes. The moving meditations can be done at home.
Equipment: None is required.
Verses to meditate on when you do Tai Chi