Tai Chi is an ancient martial art practiced for thousands of years to help improve inner peace and physical balance. Tai Chi is often called “meditation in motion” as the slow-moving poses and relaxing breathing rhythm helps put your mind into a feeling of calmness. In the medical community, however, it’s now called “medication in motion” because of its numerous researched health benefits.
Some of the physical benefits include:
- Improves strength
- Improved Flexibility
- Improved Mobility
- Improved Balance
- Aerobic Conditioning
Though practiced by people of every age and physical fitness, Tai Chi is most often seen being practiced by older adults. One of the greatest benefits of Tai Chi for older adults is improving their balance. Falls are the leading cause of injury among seniors, and by practicing Tai Chi, they can gain a sense of independence and confidence.
Practicing Tai Chi also comes with several benefits to your mental health. When you combine slow movements with calm breathing and get into a state of meditation, your mind begins to relax and release stress. Stress can lead to a variety of mental health issues, some of which include:
- Loss of Focus
Tai Chi has been shown to improve its practitioner’s mood significantly. Improved mood helps your energy levels, can reduce headaches, and help people get a restful night which can lower blood pressure.
With so many benefits, where and how should you practice Tai Chi?
The short answer is anywhere you feel comfortable, though some people may have some preferences. Here are a couple to choose from when first starting.
With nearly everyone having access to the internet in the palm of their hands, the barrier of entry to learn Tai Chi is as low as ever. Following an online course such as Tai Chi for Beginners by our very own Dr. Hoover has incredibly detailed lessons for you to practice in the comfort of your living room. Learning through courses allows you to choose when to practice, how long to practice, and when to advance to the higher difficulties.
There are some drawbacks, such as practicing too long. Though not dangerous, moderation is good practice to have when practicing Tai Chi. Other learning limitations via courses are losing the social aspect of practicing with a class and having a teacher help you with poses and movements.
Join a Class
One of the more common ways Tai Chi is practiced nowadays is by joining a Tai Chi class. You may even see a group practicing Tai Chi at your local park on the weekends. As previously stated, joining a class provided a social aspect. This is good learning because other students can help you when the teacher can’t. You can also give each other motivation to improve. A good teacher can also assist you when you are first learning poses. There may be some limits on how far you can stretch or how well you can balance at first, and a teacher can help you modify the stance and poses to suit your needs, even if you’re using a walker or a wheelchair.
If you want to join our free Tai Chi classes, we practice every Sunday from 9:30 to 10:00 am at Heartwell Park in Long Beach, CA. You’ll see us near the duck pond. You’re welcome to join. Just remember to wear comfortable clothes.
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