Practicing Tai Chi For A Healthy Mind And Body. Tai Chi Has A Growing Support From Science.
4 years ago
Mind-body exercises, such as tai chi and yoga, have been gaining popularity over the past few decades. This is not surprising, given the increasing number of studies on the positive effects of these gentler forms of exercise - everything from lowering blood pressure and managing depression to building strength and improving balance. There is even evidence that tai chi may help you live longer, more vital life.
As an ancient Chinese practice, tai chi may seem foreign and even intimidating. Perhaps your only experience with tai chi is watching video clips or seeing photos of large groups of Chinese people doing tai chi in parks-a rare occurrence in the United States. Only about 1% of the U.S. population, or about 3.65 million Americans, reported doing tai chi in 2015.
Mind-body exercises, such as tai chi and yoga, have been gaining popularity over the past few decades. This is not surprising, given the increasing number of studies on the positive effects of these gentler forms of exercise-everything from lowering blood pressure and managing depression to building strength and improving balance. There is even evidence that tai chi may help you live a longer, more vital life.
Tips for a better practice
One of the best ways to learn how to do tai chi is to observe it and follow along. That's why we created videos of both the Standing Tai Chi Calisthenics and the Tai Chi Elements.
In addition, the tips below will help you to get more benefits out of your practice and reduce your risk of injury.
Enjoy it. Enjoy the movements and breathing. Don't worry about whether you are doing everything right. Don't think too much about doing it perfectly-just do. Enjoyment will deepen your practice and help your qi to flow more freely. Worrying or overthinking it disrupts the flow and pulls you out of the moment.
Get grounded. Feel the ground with your feet. Release your weight into the ground and maintain good body alignment to promote stability and balance.
Take it slow. Moving slowly gives you time to sense your body's position, uncover hidden tensions, and make postural modifications so that different parts of your body move more harmoniously together.
Obey the 70% rule. A key principle of tai chi is moderation in effort, which may contribute to its low risk of injury. This principle is referred to as the 70% rule. Basically, it means to avoid extremes, in which injuries are more likely to occur. Instead, stay at about 70% of your effort, intensity, or range of motion. Never force a movement beyond about 70%.
Be mindful. As you move from side to side, do so in a mindful way. Can you feel the contact between your feet and the ground? Can you feel how your feet connect to the rest of your body? Can you feel your body slowly relaxing as you breathe? Can you do all that without clenching your neck and jaw? You may not be able to do any of the above well, but just being aware of these things is a critical first step. As soon as you start moving, the movement should serve as the "magnet" for your attention. Let it draw your awareness to the parts that are moving.
Move from your center. Imagine your head, torso, and pelvis as a single column aligned over your legs and feet.
Be aware of your "inner ocean." Your body is roughly 60% liquid. With this in mind, think of moving an inner ocean when you perform tai chi, rather than changing the shape or position of a solid object. Keep the movements smooth and flowing, as if you were in a pool-the kind of movements that would create gentle waves instead of splashes.
Do some, not none. As with learning to play an instrument, the more time you put into tai chi, the more you'll get out of it. Whether you have time for only a few 30-minute sessions a week, or 10 minutes a day, do it! You'll still get benefits.
Pace yourself. Just like a young tree thrives when it receives intermittent rain instead of a single downpour, you'll see more benefits by doing a little tai chi more frequently than doing a lot in isolated sessions that are few and far between. This is especially important when you are beginning a practice. Start with just 10 or 15 minutes and then gradually increase. Even five minutes most days of the week is better than doing nothing at all.
Be patient with your progress. No matter what type of exercise you do, even high-intensity workouts, it takes time to see changes. And with lower-intensity forms of exercise like tai chi, it may take even longer to see physical changes like increased strength or flexibility. The results are worth the wait.
your progress. Celebrate these improvements.
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