What are the Benefits of Tai Chi?

Tara Barnett

The benefits of tai chi are numerous, but can be divided into two related categories. There are a variety of physical benefits of tai chi, which stem from the work done by the body in practice. There are also mental benefits of tai chi, which derive from its concern with focus and orienting of energy. Both these kinds of benefits work to provide practitioners with a sense of wellness and health.

Tai Chi is said to stimulate the body's flow of life energy.
Tai Chi is said to stimulate the body's flow of life energy.

The way in which tai chi is practiced provides a wide array of physical benefits. Whether practicing tai chi with or without a martial arts component, the movement of the body through a series of poses is a form of exercise and bestows many benefits to those who practice these regularly. It is sometimes thought that the slowness of many tai chi exercise classes negates its health benefits, but it is exactly this usage of tai chi that makes this an excellent work out for people of all levels of fitness and mobility, much like yoga.

Tai chi works to provide a total mind-body experience.
Tai chi works to provide a total mind-body experience.

Physical benefits of tai chi are numerous, but flexibility and balance control are some of the most apparent ways in which this exercise benefits practitioners. It can lessen pain due to many conditions, such as arthritis, and the cardiovascular benefits can improve general health for people who have suffered from heart problems. Tai chi is thought to be particularly beneficial for people who have suffered from strokes, high blood pressure, Parkinson's, or heart failure. It is also a good calorie burner for people of any fitness level, as even its slow movements can burn as many calories as activities such as surfing.

Breath control is also an important part of the benefits of tai chi. Breathing is often neglected as a part of many exercise programs, and control over breath often leads to improved control of the body. In tai chi, breath control is sometimes used as a way to mobilize bodily energy, and it instills a sense of focus and control in movement.

Some people describe tai chi as meditation in motion. This speaks to the mental benefits of tai chi. In making focus and attention to bodily movement a major component of exercise, practitioners often experience an improved sense of calm. Stress and general mental health are usually improved when taking tai chi lessons regularly, either by the methods employed by tai chi or by simply having the space to think and calm down outside the strain of daily life. It is even thought that practicing tai chi may improve the attention span of children who otherwise have difficulty focusing.

Regularly attending tai chi classes is a way for many people to have a space solely focused on themselves and their bodies in their busy lives. Tai chi is both an exercise and a way of orienting the mind. Having a mind and body that are harmoniously working together towards a focused task improves general wellness in most people, and in many societies, the best way to achieve this sense of balance is to practice. Tai chi provides a controlled space in which to practice wellness through time-honored traditions.

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