Tai Chi is an ancient discipline of gentle exercise, originating in China over two thousand years ago, that has led to improved health, fitness, wellbeing and longevity for countless individuals up to the present time.
The purpose of Tai Chi is to improve the flow of Chi -- the life energy that flows through the body’s energy pathways -- with a series of slow, gentle, relaxed, meditative, continuous, circular and flowing movements. Because each movement is an integral part of the next, making up a continuous flowing movement, a ‘path’ is built and the Chi can flow in a continuous stream throughout the practice, unblocking and balancing the Chi.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), good health is due to a free-flowing and well-balanced energy system. When the balance of Chi is disrupted, ailments and illness occur. When the balance of Chi is restored, health is re-established.
Tai Chi is based on the concepts of yin and yang -- a constantly changing state -- fullness to emptiness and passive to active, etc. In other words, the body manifests yin and yang throughout the forms:-- for example, when the right foot is raised from the ground it is called ‘emptiness’/’insubstantial’ (yin) and the energy (Chi) is yang, and the left foot is called ‘fullness’/’substantial’ (yang) and the Chi is yin; if the left hand is pressing then it is termed ‘active’ (yang) and the energy is yin, while the right hand is ‘passive’ (yin) and the energy is yang. The concepts of yin and yang in Tai Chi also promote harmony in the flow of Chi.
Regular practice of Tai Chi cultivates Chi, resulting in a stronger body and a slowing the ageing process. This is achieved because Tai Chi is not just a form of physical exercise; tremendous Chi is generated and circulates throughout the body when one adheres to certain theories of movement, specific posture alignment and -- in one or two of the forms -- particular breathing. Also, the internal organs of the body are massaged by slow movements of Tai Chi, rejuvenating the entire body. And the tendons and ligaments are strengthened by the weight-bearing movement of Tai Chi.
Various medical studies carried out by universities in America and in other countries have shown the benefits of Tai Chi practice, usually over a period of two to six months, ranging from improved flexibility, coordination and balance to the alleviation of medical conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, asthma, high and low blood pressure and the effects of stroke, etc.
Almost anyone can practise Tai Chi, and it is suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels. In Tai Chi classes across the world it is common to see people in their late 50s standing next to people in their early 20s, learning Tai Chi together. The callisthenics of Tai Chi and its feeling of fluidity of movement attracts hundreds of millions of practitioners.