It is estimated tai chi was developed between 300 and 700 years ago. It is taught as both a martial art and longevity art, meaning it promotes health and a longer lifespan. In modern times, it is more popular as a mind-body practice that promotes overall well-being. It is a low-intensity exercise, making it suitable for a range of people as far as age and fitness level.
As a martial art, the same moves are used as in the longevity practice, but they are performed at a very fast speed, like other martial arts. Many people who study other forms of martial arts find tai chi improves their performance.
What are the Health Benefits of Tai Chi?
There are many benefits to practicing Tai chi. it is a very popular practice for stress reduction, and many people report a drop in blood pressure after starting the practice. According to Northwest Fighting Arts, which teaches tai chi classes in Portland the slow weight-bearing movements help develop stronger ligaments, bone density and an improve ranged of motion in the joints.
It strengthens the legs and improves posture. Tai chi increases flexibility, and the shifting of weight from foot to foot helps increase blood circulation throughout the body. According to Chinese medicine, the relaxation induced by tai chi, and the specific sequence of movements, is believed to strengthen the life force that runs through our body, giving nourishment to our internal organs.
A study by the National Institutes of Health found tai chi was very effective for improving balance and reducing falls. This is one of the reasons it is so beneficial for older individuals who run the risk of serious injury because of balance issues and increased risk of falling.
The meditative nature of tai chi is beneficial for our mental and emotional health. It can slow our mind and help us be more present in the now. Many people laud the practice for improving their stress levels. Increasing our focus on the moment and our awareness is something that will be carried over into our everyday life, and not just during tai chi.
There is some anecdotal evidence that suggests tai chi may be beneficial for specific conditions such as arthritis and fibromyalgia.
Is Tai Chi Considered Aerobic Exercise?
Tai chi is considered a form of aerobic exercise of low intensity based on studies looking at aerobic capacity and blood pressure response of participants. So, you will receive some cardiovascular benefit, but if that is one of your main purposes of exercising, you will need to do some other form of exercise, such as walking at a brisk pace.
How Long Does it Take to Learn Tai Chi Form?
To get the basic movements down pat, it usually takes about 30 to 36 classes. But, even if you can’t do it perfectly from the get-go, this doesn’t mean you can’t start seeing benefit from your practice right away. You begin to embody the principles from your first class. Some people choose to study this practice deeper, which helps you get even more in touch with its principles.