Translated it means 'Supreme Ultimate'. T'ai Chi Is an exercise made up of self-defense movements
executed in slow motion sequentially linked together. These movements improve Focus, Balance,
Lower Body Strength, Flexability/Pliability, Promoting a sense of Calm and Control within
the Body/Mind/Spirit of the practitioner. Especially perfect for after Short Term Rehab. I consider it Therapeutic
T'ai Chi for its many health benefits. For many T'ai Chi is a slow motion form of exercise and relaxation therapy.
According to legend it is said to originated by a man named Chang San-Feng. T'ai Chi was revealed to him during a noontime
meditation. He saw a crane trying to attack a snake. The snake with its circles and spirals was able to conquer
the crane. Therefore, T'ai Chi moves are done with circularity and roundness. Based on the theory of Yin
and Yang-Yang is hard, stiff and unyielding, we carry ourselves
in a way that is uptight and unnatural. Yin being soft, pliable and
yielding T'ai Chi allows our bodies to move in a way that is relaxed and natural. In todays world with all of its stress
and anxiety we have become a very Yang (tense and inflexable) society leading to high blood pressure, anxiety, panic attacks,
depression, heart attacks and strokes. We need to find Balance in the way we lead our lives. We need to look deeper
and listen to our bodies signals. The wisdom of the ancients said it all in the Tao Te Ching #76 (see Mindfulness Page).
Today modern science and research has discovered T'ai Chi's multitude of health giving benefits. Primarily Fall Prevention & Stress Reduction. Research has proven that T'ai Chi reduces falls in older adults by 47.5% due to balance
improvement; Steven L. Wolf PhD and Tingsen Xu PhD T'ai Chi Grandmaster conducted this research. T'ai
Chi also improves lower body strength due to the slow postural changes in a very slight bent knee position. With the
knees in an unlocked position it forces the muscles of the lower body to work, taking strain off the lower back and
increasing calorie expenditure. Although it is important never to bend the knees beyond the toes as that would
put too much strain on the knees. Therefore, when I teach T'ai Chi I am very particular about knees and how far they are bent
and in which direction they are bent. Stress and tension is where many illnesses and diseases of the body and mind originate.
The gentle movements of T'ai Chi directs the mind into the alpha state. In this state the body produces T-cells
that boost the immune system helping to fight infection and rid the body of diseases.
The slow deliberate movements known as the form, relax the Body, Mind and Spirit.
According to a recent article in Harvard Health Publications,
HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL recent research states-
Arthritis.- An hour of Tai Chi twice a week for 12 weeks reduced pain and
improved mood and physical functioning more that standard stretching exercises in people with severe knee osteoarthritis. Eight weeks of Tai Chi classes followed by eight weeks of
home practice significantly improved flexibility and slowed the disease process in patients with ankylosing spondylitis, a
painful and debilitating inflammatory form of arthritis that affects the spine. Low Bone Density.- Tai Chi may be a safe and effective way to maintain
bone density in postmenopausal women. A controlled study of Tai Chi in women with osteopenia (diminished bone density
not as severe as osteoporosis) is under way at the Osher Research Center and Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
Breast Cancer.- Tai Chi has shown potential for improving qualtiy of life and
functional capacity (the physical ability to carry out normal daily activities, such as work or exercise) in women suffering from breast cancer or the side effects of breast cancer
treatment. For example, a 2008 study at the University of Rochester, published in Medicine
and Sport Science, found that quality of life and functional capacity (including aerobic capacity, muscular strength,
and flexibility) improved in women with breast cancer who did 12 weeks of Tai Chi, while declining in a control group that
received only supportive therapy. Heart Disease.- A 53 person study at National Taiwan University found that a year
of T'ai Chi significantly boosted exercise capacity, lowered blood pressure, and improved levels of cholesterol, triglycerides,
insulin, and C-reactive protein in people at high risk for heart disease. The study, which was published in the September
2008 Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, found no improvement in a
control group that did not practice T'ai Chi. Heart Failure.-
A study at Harvard Medical School proved 12 weeks of T'ai Chi improved participants' ability
to walk and quality of life. It also reduced blood levels of B-type natriuretic protein, and indicator of heart failure.
Hypertension.- In a review
of 26 studies in English and Chinese published in Preventative Cardiology (Spring
2008), Dr. Yeh reported that in 85% of trials, T'ai Chi lowered blood pressure-with improvements ranging from 3 to 32
mm Hg in systolic pressure and from 2 to 18 mm Hg in diastolic pressure. Parkinson's disease.- A 33-person study from Washington University School
of Medicine in St. Louis, published in Gait and Posture (October 2008), found that
people with mild to moderately severe Parkinson's disease showed improved balance, walking ability, and overall well-being
after 20 T'ai Chi sessions. Sleep problems.- In a University of California, Los Angeles, study of 112 healthy older adults with moderate sleep
complaints, 16 weeks of T'ai Chi improved the quality and duration of sleep significantly more than standard sleep education.
The study was published in the July 2008 issue of the journal Sleep. Stroke.- In a 136 patients who'd had a
stroke at least 6 months earlier, 12 weeks of T'ai Chi improved standing balance more than a general exercise program that
entailed breathing, stretching, and mobilizing muscles and joints involved in sitting and walking. Findings were published
in the January 2009 issue of Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair.
* " If tension and conflict can be removed from the mind by enlightened self-analysis,
and if muscle tension can be removed by a conscious effort to relax the body, then the psychic energy latent in all of us
is unchained, and the results are increased creativity, a sense of physical well-being, and general enthusiasm for living."
The slow deliberate movements of T'ai Chi gives the body time to adapt and make postural changes needed for improved Balance. As the body moves through the slow relaxed graceful movements,
the brain becomes aware of the muscles and joints of the body in a new and enlightening way. With this new focus the
mind and body integrate into one.
T'ai Chi Ch'uan was once used as
a very effective martial art and performed correctly, it still is. Each properly executed movement has a self-defense
application, which is rooted in proper body mechanics. Although most people do not learn T'ai Chi for its self-defense
properties, understanding the roots just adds beauty to the flower.
Many of the graceful T'ai Chi movements
have come from movements found in nature, especially those of animal behavior where many of the postures' names have originated.
Names such as, Golden Rooster Stands on one Leg, Repulse Monkey, Snake Creeps Down, White Crane Spreads its Wings, and
Stroke the Peacock's Tail. Other moves of nature include, Step up to Seven Stars, Cloud Hands, and Needle at Sea Bottom.
To try to explain what T'ai Chi is or what you will experience is to do T'ai Chi a disservice. Only by doing will you
experience the euphoric awakening of the body, mnd and spirit right down to your soul.
*Power of the Plus Factor by Norman Vincent Peale
BENEFITS OF T'AI CHI INCLUDE, but are not limited to:
-Better Breathing Technique
-Peace of Mind