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Practicing Tai Chi

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Tai chi, a Chinese exercise dating back 2000-plus years, is an exercise that strengthens muscles, improves balance and flexibility and promotes relaxation. Tai chi may also have a huge side benefit; relief of chronic joint pain. The best news is, anyone can do tai chi and the benefits are extensive. Tai chi exercise is non-competitive, gentle and self-paced.

Practicing Tai Chi

The key advantage to practicing tai chi is the slow and fluid movements, which will not cause undue stress to the body. Tai chi also requires a form of meditation, which cultivates the ability to focus and remain calm in all situations, while acute awareness of your surroundings is maintained. Although the movements are slow and fluid, they are no less precise and produce desired results effectively.

Under the correct and experienced guidance, tai chi can help alleviate a variety of medical and health problems, as well as ease symptoms of stress. The main cause of many disease and illness is often linked to stress. With the practice of tai chi, stress levels can be brought under control.

Though there is no rule about its dress code, generally loose fitting and comfortable clothing accompanied with a pair of flat soled footwear is a recommended prerequisite. Since tai chi exercises are practiced as a leisure exercise, breaking into a sweaty mess is unlikely. Only serious tai chi participants who work out for longer periods of time can expect some form of perspiration.

Tai chi sessions should ideally be carried out in quiet, serene surroundings. As a higher level of concentration is required to perform all the various precise movements, someone who is easily distracted would find it difficult to concentrate and thus would not get the optimum results tai chi purportedly promises.

There are many aspects to consider when deciding to choose tai chi for exercise. If an individual already has a preexisting medical condition which limits the time and type of activity followed, then tai chi is a good option to choose. Being a predominantly gentle and slow moving art form, the level of stress on the body, while practicing tai chi, is quite mild when compared to other forms available.

Practicing tai chi calls for a balanced and stable posture and harmonious an movements. You'll note that you have not over-exerted yourself and that your breathing is regular. With practice you ought to feel exhilarated and energetic. The tai chi form is fluid and continuous, even during position shifts, giving the appearance of an easy, flowing river. Observe that all of your movements should be round and smooth.

Important: When practicing tai chi, let your breathing to be natural - don't try to control it. Utilize the conscious mind to direct the movements. "The mind ought to lead the body." This will formulate deep concentration.

While practicing the form, visualize yourself making the movement before you perform it. In that way you'll be engaging the brain as well as the body. Without this 'leading' of the movements, you won't be practicing tai chi correctly. Don't allow your thoughts to scatter. Hold your thinking on the exercise at hand. Leave out all extraneous disturbances.

As you begin to move through the exercises, feel as though your arms are floating. Hold your head as though it were suspended from above. This mental imagery will let your head be supported with the least amount of muscular tension.

Pull your chin in somewhat and allow the jaw to relax. Your facial muscles ought to be soft, without expression.

Check your posture

Tai Chi Posture

  • Is your breathing natural and concentrated in the lower abdomen?
  • Is your head held high and are your shoulders at ease?
  • Are your spine and trunk upright?
  • Is your weight equally distributed on 2 feet to start the exercise?

If your thinking is disturbed by anxiety or agitated in some manner, don't begin practicing tai chi. Let your thinking return to normal before exercising with tai chi.

When practicing tai chi, move as if you were walking through water or watching a slow motion play back. 'Slow', 'smooth' and 'constant' ought to be your watchwords. Don't change the tempo when you're changing position. Always keep your knees bent and move smoothly frontwards or backwards. Don't look down, simply straight ahead. Keep the same height while practicing - unbending the knees will make you bob up and down, which will break the flow and make your form seem clumsy.

It should be noted that tai chi must be practiced at regular and consistent schedules. Failure to keep the consistency results in less than optimum levels of benefit.

Above all, keep practicing tai chi. Sooner or later, your body will respond to the mind, performing the exercise more smoothly and precisely. The longer you practice tai chi correctly, the more perfect it will get, and the greater the advantages.

No-Sweat Pain Relief

Researchers found that those who attended weekly hour-long classes practicing tai chi had significantly less pain than those not taking the class did. Tai chi reduces joint pain because it stabilizes the joint structure and strengthens the soft tissue that supports the joint, which may help reduce pain.

Tai chi increases circulation, which may improve joint function. Practicing tai chi is used as therapy for chronic pain and limited mobility, but its greatest power is preventive. Studies now show us that tai chi reduces blood pressure, as well as episodes of anxiety and depression. It also helps give a boost to the immune system, builds bone mass and improves balance and coordination. A study by the University of Liverpool said doing tai chi three times a week for 12 weeks improved balance in participants, along with flexibility and coordination.

Tai Chi to Boost Heart Health

A National Taiwan University Hospital study found that tai chi qualifies as moderate aerobic exercise. (A 150 pound person can burn 270 calories an hour.) Aerobic exercises make the heart work harder to pump blood quicker, ultimately improving cardiovascular fitness.

Tai Chi to Reduce Stress

Tai chi also reduces the effects of stress. Coordinating graceful movements with deep breathing provides a state of calm. High stress levels are often the main contributing factors in many diseases. By bringing down stress levels through the practice of tai chi, many people have attested to positive results shown in their general health conditions.

Proven Effective

A South Korean study found that osteoarthritis patients had less pain after 12 weeks of tai chi. Ideal for those who dislike traditional exercise, tai chi's gentle muscle toning can help you sleep and concentrate better and feel more alert.

Get yourself a video and work out in the privacy of your own home! As always, check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.

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