Image Source: Xinhua/He Canling/IANS

Tai chi has become an everyday word in the world of fitness. Having originated in China, Tai chi is now being embraced in many parts of the world.  Though a martial art - it has other elements to it as well.  It has come to be known as a martial arts therapy. Tai chi is composed of five elements. By focusing on the hands, feet, breathing, posture, a lot of benefits like calmness as well as purity and clarity of thought can be attained. 

Much research has been done to investigate the benefits of Tai chi for both the ailing and the healthy. Harmonizing the body, mind and breathing is what this Chinese martial art is all about. Pushing away the negativity and pulling all good things and positivity towards you is what you imagine as you do the Tai chi moves. Is Tai chi really that effective ? Read on to find out the benefits of Tai chi. 

Researchers have found that Tai chi:

    •  was safe, even for cardiac patients who were advised low-intensity workouts 

    •  had no adverse after-effects that could put the individual at risk.

    •  was preferred to other exercise forms by the older generation as well as by the patients in rehabilitation

    •  had good attendance rates as the people kept returning to regularly attend classes.

    •  successfully raised the weekly hours of moderate to vigorous physical activity

Tai chi – The heart-friendly exercise

Cardiac patients everywhere can take heart. Do not be worried about your declining fitness levels. Doctors have now started recommending Tai chi even to patients who can't take up active or strenuous exercises. Tai chi comprises of slow moves. These moves can be done even by patients who have had a heart attack.  Such patients find themselves battling stress and tension. They constantly tend to obsess and worry about things they may not be able to do, or even about how long they may live!  The American Heart Association is now encouraging patients to take up this heart-friendly exercise.  As the patients start to do low-intensity exercises, the change in their health will push them to crank it up a notch. 

Chronic nagging neck pain that won’t go away? 

This study was conducted by the American Pain Society and they found out that Tai chi could help relieve that nagging neck pain that just won’t go away. Neck pain is something that can really push you to the point of depression. Sometimes stretching, flexing or even rotating doesn’t seem to help you shake off this terrible feeling. It almost feels as if you can’t balance the weight of your head on your shoulders. So what do people do about it? Many use ice-packs, some use hot compresses, others pop pills. But there are a few others who resorted to Tai chi and they have found relief.  

Researchers have found that about 12 weeks of Tai chi was more effective than not taking any treatment to improve pain and even overall quality of life people suffering from chronic neck pain. Tai chi helped to improve posture, breathing and even improved their state of mind from “I can’t” to “I can”.

Sleepless breast cancer patients -  Tai chi is your answer

Falling asleep is a very effortless thing for most people. This however, is not the case for most people-especially breast cancer survivors. Even healthy people find it difficult to catch some z’s. Every night they seem to fight a very real battle trying to switch off their minds just so that they can sleep. Did you know that insomnia can lead to depression? It’s not a joke! 

Nearly 30% of breast cancer survivors face the challenge of falling asleep and staying asleep. This can in turn cause depression and can even bring back the disease that you just bid farewell too. Being sick is a bummer.  A recent study conducted revealed that Tai chi not only improved insomnia but also improved symptoms of depression and fatigue. Up until now, The American Academy of Sleep Medicine believed that cognitive behavioral therapy was the best solution for insomnia.  This is all well and good if this treatment was so costly. The availability of those trained to provide cognitive behavioral therapy is also very less.  This is where Tai chi is a godsend.  You can watch an instructional video on YouTube and then do Tai chi from the comfort of your living room.

3 simple Tai chi moves that you can do easily

Rising and sinking move

Stand with your legs slightly apart.

Raise your hands upwards to the shoulder level (palms facing downwards). Inhale through the nose during the move. This is called “the rise”.

Lower your hands down and gently bend your knees.  Exhale through the mouth during the move. This is called “the fall”.

Single hand circle move

With the legs slightly apart, place the right hand on the hip. 

Rotate the left arm in a circular motion in a rise and fall manner as seen in the rising and sinking move.

With each sinking move bend the knees downward gently. With the rising move bend the knees upward gently. 

Repeat the same with the left hand on the hip and rotating the right arm.

Two hands circle move

Keep the legs slightly apart.

Rotate both the arms in a circular motion in a rise and fall manner as seen in the rising and sinking move.

With each sinking move bend the knees downward gently. With the rising move bend the knees upward gently. 

Note: Dress comfortable in loose fitting clothes and also flat footwear to perform Tai chi.