Tai Chi Chuan is a soft style of Kung Fu and literally translates to “Supreme Ultimate Fist.” Originally developed as a method of self-defense in the 14th century, Tai Chi is most often practiced today for its health benefits. According to Chinese medical theory, a close relationship exists between one’s physical and psychological health and it is medically agreed that Tai Chi does benefit the nervous, circulatory and digestive systems.
“This gentle form of exercise can help maintain strength, flexibility, and balance, and could be the perfect activity for the rest of your life.”
- Harvard University
Tai Chi is often described as “meditation in motion,” but might well be called “medication in motion.” There is growing evidence that this mind-body practice, which originated in China as a martial art, has value in treating or preventing many health problems. And you can get started even if you aren’t in top shape or the best of health.
In this low-impact, slow-motion exercise, you go without pausing through a series of motions named for animal actions — for example, “white crane spreads its wings” — or martial arts moves, such as “box both ears.” As you move, you breathe deeply and naturally, focusing your attention — as in some kinds of meditation — on your bodily sensations. Tai Chi differs from other types of exercise in several respects. The movements are usually circular and never forced, the muscles are relaxed rather than tensed, the joints are not fully extended or bent, and connective tissues are not stretched. Tai Chi can be easily adapted for anyone, from the most fit, to people confined to wheelchairs or recovering from surgery.