What you should know about tai chi

What you should know about tai chi

Want to improve your physical health, but also find some mental peace?

You might be able to find both in tai chi. And before you write it off because you think it’s fast-paced and full of crazy kicks and straining positions, think again.

“It is rhythmic and flowing and relaxed, not forced,” says Steven Mui, a clinician and tai chi instructor at the Aurora Health Center in Fond du Lac, Wis. “Tai chi is one way to move with stress rather than fight against it.”

Often considered a form of active meditation, tai chi consists of a series of gentle, graceful movements without any pause between postures, all while providing physical exercise and stretching without leaving participants winded or exhausted. Although tai chi and yoga share many similarities, yoga involves holding poses for a few breaths, while tai chi involves constant and calm movements.

Not only is tai chi good for your physical and mental well-being, it also reduces stress, improves flexibility, helps you sleep better and can even benefit conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis, depression and other disorders. The National Institutes of Health suggests “practicing tai chi may improve balance and stability in older people and those with Parkinson’s, reduce pain from knee osteoarthritis, help people cope with fibromyalgia and back pain and promote quality of life and mood in people with heart failure and cancer.”

Tai chi is wonderfully versatile. You can find health clubs that offer tai chi classes, or you can do it by yourself in your own home.

“It is self-care for personal health and fitness and self-defense for preventing disease and injury,” says Mui.

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  1. I used to do Tai Chi and benefited immensely. I plan to return to it.
    You may not know, but Tai Chi is a martial art.
    Its philosophy is by being soft, you become strong. Think of the yin-yang symbol; everything contains its opposite. The soft-ness is relaxed breathing, slow movement, mindfullness, and sinking into the earth (while drawing energy from it.) Also you learn to redirect the power of the other person toward your own benefit.
    It helps to have a teacher that understands this, even if your main interest is not about martial art.

    Unexpectedly, the practice of Tai Chi also helped me during be strong during pregnancy, and effective during childbirth.

  2. I would like to learn more about Tai Chi. I feel like I’m under a lot of stress lately and I’ve also been having trouble sleeping. And not to mention I feel achy joints and back pain.

  3. I really love the principles of tai chi and participated for over a year. My only problem, and the reason that I had to stop, was the stress it placed on my legs; instead of being strengthened, the muscles got worse. I still miss it!

    • @Cheryl, there are several variants of Tai Chi which are easier on the joints and some have been adapted for people in sitting positions. I do tai chi chih, thanks to an introduction by a friend, and it has been ok with my damaged knee. That may not work for you, but don’t give up without looking around.

  4. I have wanted to try Tai Chi but the classes are so far away. I don’t want to drive 45 minutes to an hour just for Tai Chi class. The gyms located in Racine either don’t offer Tai Chi or if they do, you have to be a member of the gym.

  5. “Thanks” to the COVID crisis, starting and developing a tai chi practice is easier than ever. Chicago Tai Chi (https://www.chicagotaichi.org/) offers a full menu of Tai Chi and Qigong classes via Zoom. I started tai chi pre-pandemic, with in-person classes, and the shift online has been more comfortable than I imagined.

  6. Gilbert Gregg Kaske August 21, 2020 at 7:15 pm · Reply

    I’ve been doing tai chi 4 years now best part of day

  7. I practice 2 different styles of tai chi from last 20 years,is profound and very powerful I highly racomend

  8. If you don’t have easy access to in-person Tai Chi classes, there are many videos on YouTube. You can even look for beginner classes to start with more instruction.

  9. Great article. If done correctly Tai Chi shouldn’t put stress on the knees. Because you are moving in all directions it is possible to twist the knees. Many instructors don’t know to look for this or don’t care. You follow along for an hour then go home. Might be exercise but that’s not Tai Chi. I’ve practiced for 23 years, taught for 13, and that’s the first thing I look for with my students. Check your instructor out before you start classes. It’s all about finding and moving your center thru each of the postures.

  10. I participated in Tai Chi classes 30 years ago At the time I was under a lot of stress at work and in my personal life. I just signed up for a class with the Milwaukee Rec Dept. 5 minutes from my house. At 73 I am fairly healthy and looking to increase flexibility and strengthen my core.

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.