Medical Benefits of Tai Chi Chuan
Tai Chi Chuan means the Way that encompasses or contains all.
In the Song Dynasty China had three main philosophies or ways that formed the base of it’s culture. They were Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism. These three all had their methods of achieving enlightenment and understanding of the world we live in. Also how to live in harmony with Nature or the Environment and the human race. They also had medical disciplines that worked on the same Universal principles and these were built into the creation of Tai Chi. So proper Tai Chi is a health regime or self-defensive against illness and also a correcting device.
It is not a sport in the general sense of the word and therefore can strengthen the body and heal disease. Harmony of action and breathing are not co-ordinated when people are doing heavy exercise.
The body is put under a lot of stress, causing the heart to beat faster and in an irregular manner and blood to become concentrated in the limbs where more oxygen is needed.
Tai Chi Chuan is very different from these types of exercise, it harmonizes the mind, body and spirit and it does not use physical strength. On the contrary it emphasizes softness and relaxation and exercising the body as a whole so that it moves in harmony and without energy. The muscles and internal organs work in harmony with the motion. The postures and turning movements stimulate the marrow and increase stem cell production thus affecting the metabolism in a positive way. After practicing for a while the bones joints and muscles gain elasticity. Bone density is maintained.
If the mind is calm the body will be quick, relaxed, sensitive and smooth in action. The whole body, joints, cartilage, muscles and internal organs will all work together in harmony. This process slows down the aging process.
Tai Chi is the most beneficial ”sport” with regard to medical benefits, preventing and curing diseases such as arterial sclerosis, hypertension, arthritis and rheumatism. Tai Chi has improved conditions such as high cholesterol, anemia and insomnia. This is possible because the body is designed in such a way that it can heal itself if the conditions are right. According to pathology all diseases start with changes in the nervous system.
If we learn Tai Chi according to the correct principles the central nervous system relaxes so that the body can automatically organize the circulation, in turn helping the whole body to become healthy. If you cannot relax then you cannot function properly. If we control the central nervous system then we can control disease. If our movements and breathing are smooth then the heart, circulation and immune system can adjust and function efficiently. If the circulation and lymph systems function well then hay-fever and sinusitis can be eliminated.
Stress and tension in everyday life cause a hormone imbalance causing fatigue, Tai Chi helps to balance the hormone system and correct function.
The slow turning and twisting movements strengthen the spine and relieve back problems.
The leg muscles directly influence the heart, either strongly or weakly according to the body’s fluid dynamic. As pressure in the muscles increase, the central nervous system responds by increasing the blood flow. The heart pumps according to whether the legs muscles are relaxed or tense. If the muscles are weak then the heart is also weak. If we do not exercise to keep the leg muscles elastic then the heart muscles lose their elasticity. On the other hand if we exercise to the extreme then the leg muscles become tight and the heart and main arteries become enlarged.
The fluid dynamic of the body is related to the flexing and releasing in leg movements. Proper and correct stances and stepping maximize this.
In Tai Chi practice the breathing is smooth and connects to every action. A larger amount of air can be inhaled when the breathing is gentle and smooth. Forced hard breathing does not achieve this. A person’s posture directly affects the amount of air allowed into the lungs. Maintaining a soft slightly rounded chest facilitates this.
Regular practice of Tai Chi slows the aging process and improves balance and co-ordination. Older people tend to develop balance problems and become susceptible to fall which fracture bones. Tai Chi improves balance and leg strength and helps maintain bone density. Doing the right Tai Chi facilitate correct protein folding in the cells and prevents disease. Incorrect protein folding has been directly linked to dementia, Altzheimers, Parkinson’s, diabetes and other diseases.
Anyone at any age can start to learn Tai Chi as it is not at first physically demanding, but as time goes by you will become stronger and more adept.
Note. Not all Tai Chi systems are based on correct principles and philosophy and so will not provide the above benefits.