Most Americans know and understand the benefits that yoga can have on their lives. Body awareness, stretching, overall sense of calm, improved energy, circulatory health, and relaxation just to name a few. But did you know there is another, lesser known, way to achieve all these health benefits and more? It’s called T’ai Chi.
T’ai-chi ch’uan (the proper name for T’ai Chi) originated in China sometime between the 17th and 19th century. A series of poses and movements between poses creates an almost meditative like state of mind. The martial art focuses on inward focus and energy flow. Often called ‘a moving meditation’ T’ai Chi uses the mind body connection to aid in relaxation.
Psychosomatically here is what the mind body connection does when confronted with stress: There is an event that happens to the mind/ consciousness (the “psychological” part) and that stress appears in the body (the “somatic” part). For example; your boss calls you into his office for a review and your shoulders raise two inches. That tension from meeting your boss shows physically in your shoulders.
T’ai Chi reverses the psychosomatic response. By focusing on your movements, the mind can release the tension causing pain in the body. Along with mental health benefits, T’ai Chi has been known to relieve arthritis pain, increase flexibility, increase strength, and improve balance.
There are many disciplines available to suite your needs. Many hospitals and senior centers now offer classes in one form or another. So the next time you are looking for a good way to eliminate stress in your life, skip the yoga mat and try T’ai Chi.