Tai Chi – The Power of Chi
Another movement form that is a true and abiding Low Density Lifestyle movement approach is Tai Chi.
And if that isn’t a Low Density Lifestyle approach to movement and to life, then I don’t know what is.
So let’s look at Tai chi and what it is.
Tai chi, or as it is more formally known, Tai chi chuan, is sometimes referred to as moving meditation or meditation in motion. It is an internal Chinese martial art often practiced for health reasons. Tai chi is typically practiced for a variety of other personal reasons: its hard and soft martial art technique, demonstration competitions, and as a longevity practice.
When you practice tai chi, you move your body slowly, gently, with awareness, and with deep breathing.
Some of tai chi chuan’s training forms are well known to Westerners as the slow motion routines that groups of people practice together every morning in parks around the world, particularly in China.
Today, tai chi has spread worldwide. Most modern styles of tai chi trace their development to at least one of the five traditional schools: Chen, Yang, Wu/Hao, Wu and Sun.
As the legend goes, tai chi’s origin is credited to Chang San-Feng, a Taoist monk. The monk developed a series of 13 exercises that mimic the movements of animals. Meditation and the concept of internal force were emphasized by the monk.
Tai chi adopted the concepts yin and yang (opposing forces within your body) and qi (vital energy or life force). Tai chi aims to support a balance of yin and yang, ultimately aiding the flow of qi.
There are various movements in tai chi – and each flows into the next. Posture, movement, concentration, and breathing are essential elements of tai chi.
The longer you do tai chi, the more capable you become of achieving the flow state in your movements, not just in tai chi but in everyday life.
There is a saying in Chinese philosophy that it takes 10 years to become a beginner. The same can be said of tai chi – that it takes 10 years to become a beginner, to really embed the flow state in everything you do.
This way of thinking is antithetical to the West, where we expect to develop mastery in a weekend.
But that’s not to say that tai chi doesn’t have benefits for the person who has not been practicing for 10 years. Studies have shown that tai chi has many health benefits, and that most of them are felt in the early days of doing tai chi.
It is known to improve:
* physical condition
* muscle strength
* pain level and stiffness
* general well-being
Furthermore, specific research has stated that tai chi can help with numerous health problems.
Researchers have found that intensive tai chi practice shows favorable effects on the promotion of balance control, flexibility, cardiovascular fitness and reduced the risk of falls in both healthy elderly patients, and those recovering from chronic stroke, heart failure, high blood pressure, heart attacks, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s.
Tai chi can also be good for weight loss, as its gentle, low impact movements burn more calories than surfing and nearly as many as downhill skiing.
Other studies have shown that:
1) tai chi has reduced levels of LDLs 20–26 milligrams when practiced for 12–14 weeks.
2) tai chi showed the ability to greatly reduce pain and improve overall physical and mental health in people over 60 with severe osteoarthritis of the knee.
3) a pilot study, which has not been published in a peer-reviewed medical journal, has found preliminary evidence that tai chi and related qigong may reduce the severity of diabetes.
4) tai chi boosts and strengthens the immune system.
5) tai chi can help with stress management and improve mental health – it has an effect on noradrenaline and cortisol production with an effect on mood and heart rate.
6) tai chi reduces the symptoms of Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
So if you’re looking to get into the flow and feel more peaceful, calm, balanced and centered; if you’re looking to cultivate better health; and if you’re looking to live a Low Density Lifestyle, then tai chi may be for you.
One other thing: tai chi is considered the most powerful of all the martial arts because it teaches how to use your chi, your body’s energy system, in forceful ways. The catch to that is that you have to have practiced tai chi a long, long time to develop that power.
To show what I mean, below is a video of Master Shr, a Chinese master of tai chi. The video comes from the television program The Mystery of Chi, which appeared as a segment of a program Bill Moyers did called Healing and the Mind.
You may not believe what you see in the video, but believe me, this is real: this is the power of chi.