By Kim Noy-Man studied under Grandmaster Chen Xaowang
Tai-Chi Health Benefits
Tai-Chi, which is also known as a 'whole body therapy', is becoming increasingly popular, not just because of the ease and gentleness of the exercise, but also for the many amazing health benefits that people report after starting this traditional Chinese wellness practice.
Not only do they report feeling lighter on feet, stronger legs, more focused, alert, less stressed and more relaxed, but specific benefits including lowered blood pressure, less arthritic pain, increased strength, less joint stiffness, improved balance and flexibility, higher bone density in menopausal women, and very important for this time of year- reduced falls.
A recent BBC online article, referring to Arthritis, reported that most complementary therapies do not work, however, Tai-Chi was one of 3 out of 25 trailed therapies with enough medical evidence to show that it does help this condition. They also found that out of 53 trials of 14 different therapies, among 6000 patients, only Tai Chi and Acupuncture appeared to work. Tai Chi can also help Fibromyalgia.
The incredible benefit of doing Tai-Chi is that it is suitable for all ages, shapes and sizes and fitness levels.
All you need is to wear comfy clothes.
Tai chi itself consists of slow- flowing, choreographed, meditative movements with poetic names like 'wave hands like clouds', and 'dragons stirring up the wind' that evoke the natural world.
These movements, which are easy and fun to do in a group, create focus in the mind, body and breathe, encouraging the flow of 'Qi', the balance of energy in the body, which is thought to activate the body's natural self- healing systems.
Taijiquan (Yin Yang boxing, sometimes translated as Great Ultimate boxing) is the best-known style of the Internal Martial Arts.
The most famous part of Taijiquan is the moving exercises, known as the Taiji Form, which is a series of slow, continuous and flowing movements with unhurried breathing. All movements are done with calm concentration, which is why it is often called meditation in motion. When done correctly, the practitioner's body can develop as a whole without any parts being ignored or exhausted - in other words: the practice of Taijiquan reaches parts other exercises do not reach.
The essence of Taijiquan is to integrate the mind, body, and spirit with neither having preference over the other. With continued practice, one's health inevitably improves.
Chen Family Taijiquan and Qigong Silk reeling
All of the internal martial arts rely for their effectiveness on Internal Power - the power cultivated by the alignment and coordination of the whole body and will. Essentially martial in nature, these arts are practised by most people for their health-giving properties rather than just for self-defence. Ultimately, each of us has our own path in life and the practice of Internal Martial Arts can help us find this path and give us the ability and health to travel it to its fullest.
Chen Style is the original style of Taijiquan from which the Yang style and all the other styles developed. While the other Taijiquan styles enjoyed ever-increasing popularity with the inevitable shift away from the martial side, the Chen style was practised in relative obscurity in Chen village and thus retained more of the original flavour. It contains a wide range of movements - from the slow and graceful to the explosively fast. The martial aspects of this form are more recognizable and it contains many techniques and moves not found in other styles.
Qigong (Chi Kung)
Qigong is a system of exercises for the cultivation of Qi. Qi can be translated into energy and Gong as practice. A common thread in all these practices is the emphasis on using Mind. Most exercises are done with a great deal of (relaxed) concentration and very little of physical movement. But Movement is present all the time - even when the practitioner seems perfectly still.
Recently, there has been quite a lot of research done on the health benefits of Taijiquan. Qigong research is just starting, but the first indications are that (unsurprisingly) the benefits are similar.
About Kim Noy-Man
Kim has a passion for practising and teaching the art for the last 30 years under John Solagbade and has taken instruction from Grand Master Chen Xiaowang in England and in China. http://www.chenxiaowang.com
Copyright © Kim Noy-Man Jackson. All rights reserved.