Tai Chi is considered one of the Nei Gong or internal arts, meaning its primary focus is to develop the body from the inside out. This is in contrast to Wai Gong training, which emphasizes external muscle development.
Regular practice of Tai Chi has been proven to have many positive effects for the mind, body and spirit. Physical benefits may include improved posture, balance and flexibility, more strength and endurance, correct digestive irregularities, increase muscle and bone density, normalize the metabolism and strengthen the immune system.
Favourable mental and spiritual results that often occur when practicing Tai Chi
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are relief of tension and stress, release anxiety, create a mind-body connection, enhance focus and awareness, remove energy blocks, gain a sense of calmness and well-being and lessen mood swings. Tai Chi will also effectively treat chronic conditions such as arthritis, fibromyalgia and migraines.
The 108 continuous movements which make up the Yang Style Tai Chi form are a perfect blend of Yin and Yang energies, strengthening muscle tissue through the continuous tensing and relaxing motions; massaging the joints by the process of the slow, rhythmic transition from one movement to the next; and stimulating and exercising the internal organs as a result of the gentle twisting and turning of the waist.
Improved breathing techniques contribute greatly to the overall benefits of Tai Chi practice
The internal organs work tirelessly in the background, mostly unnoticed until one or more begins to fail. Unlike external muscles, the organs are rarely exercised during western style calisthenics.
Tai Chi’s unique approach not only strengthens muscles, bones and tendons, but also stimulates and rejuvenates the organs through the employment of lower abdominal breathing and the extensive range of gentle twisting movements.
In Chinese metaphysics, the development of proper breathing techniques is one of the keys to good health. By inhaling deep into the lower abdomen, you are directing the Chi to permeate and massage the internal organs.
As babies we all breathed this way, however the ageing process and other learned behaviours causes us to inhale and exhale through the chest and ignore the organs. With practice the lower abdomen breathing becomes natural and every breath exercises your internal body.
Nei wai xiang he literally means, “inner and outer mutually combine”. When the physical movements act in unison with intention, the form will be harmonious. Yong yi bu yang li translates as “use the mind instead of force”.
The mind is the engine that directs the motion of the body and the Chi. In doing so, great power is generated without the use of physical force.
Physically demanding activities such as jogging, weight lifting or high impact aerobics may not be suitable for everyone. However, the slow and evenly paced movements of Yang Style Tai Chi make it
Uniquely adaptable to young, old, strong and weak
The intensity of the training can be perfectly matched to the age and health of the participant much the same as a dimmer switch regulates the brightness of a light. This means that all people – athletes, dancers, elderly… will benefit from regular practice of Tai Chi. With 108 movements, there is a broad range of motion that exercises every cell of the body at a level that reaches deep into the very core.
Yang Style Tai Chi, widely practised in China since its conception, is rapidly becoming an internationally popular exercise system. It is not uncommon to see groups of people in parks and neighbourhoods moving gracefully through the form as one body, one spirit.
Besides the vast array of health benefits, there are many advantages to regular practice of Tai Chi
No equipment is needed nor is a trip to the gym. There are no special clothing requirements. All one needs to wear is a comfortable outfit that allows a wide range of movement and athletic shoes.
Regarding a training facility, any moderately sized space with a flat surface will work. Tai Chi can be practised alone or with others, in silence or with music. A warm-up is not necessary, enabling the form or individual movements to be performed anywhere, any time.
Through Tai Chi a mind/body connection develops that is unlike any other
The slow, relaxed pace of the form creates a unique bond where the mind sees the movements and transfers that vision to the physical body. With practice, the mind and body begin to act and re-act as one entity.
When this stage is reached, there is a deeper understanding of who and what we are. The purpose of our existence and the nature of our relationship with everyone and everything around us become clearer.
Who should do Tai Chi? All, young and old alike will benefit whether it is your primary form of exercise or simply added to an existing program. The key is regular practice of the movements blended with meditation to attain a state of mindfulness.
The goal is to allow the form to become a permanent part of your mind, body and spirit. To make this a reality, you must take the first step, which is to find a qualified instructor to begin your journey of knowledge and learning.
THE ESSENCE OF TAO
– Looked at but not seen:
– Its name is formless.
– Listened to but not heard:
– Its name is soundless.
– Reached for but not obtained:
– Its name is intangible.
– From the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
– The Tao – the Way, is there for all of us. It is simply a matter of choosing the right path and experiencing the journey with all our hearts. Make Tai Chi a part of your Tao.