Tai chi moves: how to get started, benefits, seniors, and more
Tai bỏ ra is an art embracing the mind, body and spirit. Originating in ancient China, tai đưa ra is one of the most effective exercises for health of mind và body. Although an art with great depth of knowledge và skill, it can be easy lớn learn and soon delivers its health benefits. For many, it continues as a lifetime journey.
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The guiding principles bring us back to the laws of nature, upon which Tai đưa ra was based.
Movements are slow, smooth & graceful, khổng lồ help us to lớn be present. Breathing is controlled, for this same reason.
Modern life is so fast và unnatural. Tai bỏ ra brings us back to lớn the slow phase of nature khổng lồ recharge our minds & bodies. We crave this balance. This is why so many people enjoy this practice (though it may take some time lớn get used to the slower pace).
I’ve divided the principles into three main sections – based on my interpretation over 40 years of practice & the latest medical knowledge.Movement ControlTai đưa ra movements are slow lớn help you integrate mind and body. They are smooth to lớn facilitate serenity, flowing lượt thích water in a river. This continual flow gathers inner energy like hydraulic power, growing as it flows.Move as though you’re pushing against gentle resistance. Every movement generates a soft inner power. Another good way is to lớn imagine the air around you becoming denser, or pretend that you’re moving in water.Body StructureMaintain an upright posture. Studies show that good posture strengthens the Deep Stabiliser muscles, which tư vấn the spine. It also provides more space for internal organs. What’s more, you feel stronger & more positive when upright. Qi flows better in an aligned body. A poorly aligned body toàn thân puts extra strain on the spine and compromises balance.Be mindful of weight transference. Balance is an essential part of Tai Chi. Lượt thích nature, we are happier & healthier when in harmony.Internal ComponentsLoosen or ‘松 – Song‘ the joints. Relax when you vì Tai Chi, but not khổng lồ the point where your muscles get floppy. Instead, consciously & gently stretch your joints from within. Qi can only flow smoothly and powerfully if your joints are tuy vậy (and not tensed). Tuy vậy also strengthens the internal ligaments và muscles, enhancing the function of joints.Develop a state of mental quietness or ‘静 – Jing’. You’re more mindful of the present và the self when you’re ‘Jing’.
These principles may seem simple, but they’re profound.
Different styles of Tai Chi
There are many different styles of Tai chi practice, including the five main ones: Chen, Yang, Wu, Hao và Sun.
Each of these styles is named after the Chinese families that developed them, based on their interpretation of the original Chen style. They’re all based on the same principles, but there are some differences in positioning, speed & force of movement.
At a glance:Chen style: oldest form, characterised by alternating fast and explosive movements with slow & gentle movements.Yang style: most popular form practised today, characterised by gentle, large frame movements. Most of our programs are based on this style.Hao style: emphasis is placed on internal force (it’s a lesser known style)Wu style: characterised by softness. Emphasis is placed on redirecting incoming force with a slightly forward leaning posture.Sun style: characterised by lively steps and a slightly higher stance (it’s the youngest of all forms and used in our arthritis programs).
Let’s apply these ideas to one example:
Different forms have different ways of moving the feet. If we look at Yang, you move forward và backward by lifting your foot slightly off the ground and touching down lượt thích a cat. In Chen style, you step forward by lifting your foot higher and brushing the heel along the ground.
Different forms can also have different hand shapes. The Yang approach uses an xuất hiện palm, while Chen uses a closed one.
Even within one style, you can encounter many variations in mix movements.
This happens when individuals incorporate a particular interpretation of a hand or foot movement into their daily practice, because it feels better than the phối movement.
My point is that minor differences aren’t important.
There isn’t one “right” way lớn practise a movement, as long as it follows the essential principles of Tai Chi.
I believe the ancients would have loved to lớn be exposed lớn different styles và teachers, as we are today.
This gives every practitioner the opportunity khổng lồ see what works best for him or her.
There’s no need khổng lồ spend a lifetime devoted to a single path, only khổng lồ later discover it wasn’t the right one. Instead, we can incorporate different interpretations & shorten our path khổng lồ a higher level.
Most importantly, we can only reach this màn chơi if we’re in harmony with ourselves and nature.
History of Tai Chi
Tai đưa ra is based on traditional medicine, Qigong and martial arts techniques from thousands of years ago.
However the real origins are obscure & shrouded in legend…
The first known written reference appeared in the Book of Changes over 3000 years ago during the Zhou Dynasty (1100-1221 BC). This book explains “…in all changes exists Tai Chi, which causes the two opposites in everything.”
Mystical accounts claim the father of Tai bỏ ra was a legendary figure named Zhang Shanfeng. This famous Taoist priest of the 15th century was believed khổng lồ possess superhuman abilities and immense internal power.
Less lãng mạn (but more reliable) accounts date back lớn Chen Wangting, a 16th century Royal Guard of the Chen village in Wenxian County, Henan Province.
After retiring from the army, he was drawn to the teachings of Taoism, which led him lớn a simple life of farming, studying và teaching martial arts. It’s widely believed that he created the Chen family-style of Tai Chi, from which all other styles developed.
Tai bỏ ra translates to “supreme ultimate”. This describes the vastness of the universe. Everything in nature works harmoniously together due lớn yin & yang elements.
Is Tai bỏ ra safe?
Yes, Tai bỏ ra is a low impact exercise, so it’s very safe.
Although minimal stress is placed on muscles & joints, every individual is different. Honour your toàn thân and never push yourself beyond your limits.
Please don’t fall into the trap of thinking that just because your teacher taught you a movement, it must be safe for you. The safety requirements for every style of Tai chi are different, as the movements aren’t the same.
In regards to lớn the Tai bỏ ra programs that I teach, I’ve consulted with medical experts to lớn make safety my top priority.
In 2005, a New Zealand government toàn thân paid for 10,000 older adults to attend Tai bỏ ra classes lớn improve their health. The Accident & Compensation Corporation (ACC) invited me lớn help them thiết kế safety measures và set up training courses for class teachers – based on the same injury prevention guidelines in my own workshops.
Here are some tips for when you’re doing Tai chi from home, or in a class:Make sure you’re practising in a safe learning environment, with good lighting & no obstacles.Practise in a comfortable location that isn’t too cold, hot or windy.Drink water if you’re practising on a hot day.Warming up & cooling down exercises should be part of your routine.Never push your body toàn thân beyond what feels comfortable for you, even if you think the movement looks easy.
These are easy lớn learn và most of them are common sense, so many teachers already vị this.
Who is tai bỏ ra suitable for?
Anybody can learn and enjoy it, including children, people with a disability and older generations.
There’s something for everyone, from the slower paced styles to more vigorous movements of the classical Chen style. It all depends on your preferences and what your toàn thân can handle.
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People with a disability and the elderly:
I’ve taken extra measures lớn make sure that Tai đưa ra is accessible khổng lồ everyone, by working with my medical colleagues lớn adapt my programs for almost any chronic condition and disability.
Even people with limited movement can benefit from the principles.
For example, my friend Richard has Guillain-Barre Syndrome, an unusual disease that affected his neurological system. He was lying in an intensive care bed, hardly able khổng lồ move any part of his body. He visualised Tai đưa ra for Rehabilitation in his mind, which gradually helped khổng lồ bring him back lớn health.
Not just for adults, get the young ones involved too:
I love that Tai đưa ra unites people from different generations. The whole family can get involved.
It’s particularly suitable for adults looking for gentle exercise, but children also benefit from the practice – which does wonders for their developing brains, physical health & emotional wellbeing.
Children love lớn learn, and they’re very good at it, especially when enjoying a fun activity. Tai chi provides the tools they need to lớn feel balanced & better cope with stress. It’s a good chance lớn step away from the screens and connect with nature.
Standard Tai bỏ ra classes are suitable for children, but they will probably get more out of a modified program that captures their attention & engages their strong imaginations.
How often should I practise Tai chi before seeing results?
It’s a good idea to practise every day for at least 10 minutes a day, khổng lồ get into a routine.
This is generally achievable, even on busy days.
Many people do đôi mươi to 30 minutes of Tai bỏ ra every day, but you can continue for longer as this activity isn’t strenuous. It all depends on your individual circumstances.
Benefits will occur after a few months of regular practice, but many people notice they’re feeling calmer, more grounded & healthier even before that. These benefits will deepen if you commit khổng lồ a long-term routine.
Tai đưa ra for Health programs (Dr Lam incorporates medical science)
There are many forms of Tai Chi, but programs that are designed specifically for health offer more targeted benefits.
Since 1997, I’ve worked with medical experts khổng lồ create a series of Tai đưa ra for Health programs that are safe, easy & enjoyable lớn learn.
These instructional videos make Tai đưa ra accessible khổng lồ people from the comfort of their homes, even if they have a disability or illness that restricts their movement. The lessons are suitable for all levels, from beginners khổng lồ advanced.
But here’s the best part…
A number of published studies show these programs effectively prevent chronic diseases from occurring, or help people lớn manage their symptoms better.
I first created a program that helps people with arthritis to lớn improve their condition. The results were so amazing that many arthritis foundations around the world support this program.
After that, I combined my knowledge of medicine, thể thao and Tai chi to create programs for other conditions – with the help of medical experts in each field. Our approach is largely based on the Yang style with gentle and large movements.
Programs include:Tai chi for HealthTai chi for ArthritisSeated Tai đưa ra for ArthritisTai bỏ ra for DiabetesTai chi for Back PainTai bỏ ra for OsteoporosisTai chi for RehabilitationTai bỏ ra for EnergyTai chi for Beginners Intermediate Tai ChiAdvanced Tai ChiTai chi for KidsTai bỏ ra
WorkTai bỏ ra for MemoryTai đưa ra for Heart Conditions
Is it possible to learn Tai bỏ ra from a DVD or video?
Yes, as long as the video clip has been constructed well. Thousands of people have learnt Tai chi from our videos over the years – improving their mental và physical health along the way.
One advantage of learning from đoạn clip is you can go at your own pace, without feeling pressured by others in the room. You can also rewind to lớn watch the movements over & over again, until you get a grasp of how it’s done.
Another advantage is you don’t need khổng lồ leave your home, which is particularly helpful during the global pandemic.
We also offer face-to-face workshops for people who want to work directly with an instructor (as long as COVID-19 social distancing requirements permit this).
Medical benefits of Tai bỏ ra for Health programs (scientific studies)
Medical research shows that Tai bỏ ra improves chronic conditions and prevents problems associated ageing.
Randomised controlled studies from around the world have evaluated the benefits of our Tai chi for Health programs.
What’s more, many of my research papers have been published in peer-reviewed medical journals. I’ve contributed on some màn chơi as chief investigator, co-investigator, consultant or advisor.
Here’s a danh sách of 35 studies published by myself (Dr Lam) và associates.
Accreditations and global organisations that support our programs can be found here.
Now, let’s take a deeper look at a few of these studies:
Benefits for arthritis…
Studies show the Tai chi for Arthritis program effectively relieves pain, improves physical movement, flexibility và balance. There’s low risk of injury with the exercises.
Tai đưa ra for Arthritis study (Journal of Rheumatology 2003):
72 patients with osteoarthritis were randomly put into an experimental or control group. They completed pre and post-test measures over 12 weeks.
Results show the Tai bỏ ra group ended up with:35% less pain29% less stiffness29% higher ability to perform daily tasks (like climbing stairs)Improved abdominal musclesBetter balance
Benefits for diabetes…
Tai bỏ ra helps people with diabetes khổng lồ control their disease, & may even lower blood glucose levels.
Tai bỏ ra for Diabetes Study (2008):
This randomised control trial assessed the effects of a modified Tai chi program on people with poorly controlled type II diabetes.
For both the control & Tai bỏ ra group, there were improvements in:HbA1c indicatorSix-metre walk test Total cholesterol levels
On đứng top of this, improvements in physical and social functioning were found in the Tai bỏ ra group.
Researchers believe that Tai đưa ra may be a useful part of treatment for type II diabetes. However, a higher number of sessions per week (or longer duration) may be required khổng lồ show statistically significant reductions in metabolic or cardiovascular parameters.
The study can be found here.
Benefits for back pain…
Research shows us that Tai đưa ra can relieve back pain, improve flexibility and strengthen abdominal và pelvic muscles.
Tai chi for Back Pain (study by Sydney University):
This randomised controlled trial involved 160 volunteers aged between 18 and 70 with a diagnosis of “persistent non-specific low back pain”. Half the people participated in 18 Tai chi group sessions for 10 weeks, while the control group continued with their usual health care.
Results show that Tai chi significantly reduced the intensity of back symptoms.
There were improvements for 75% of the Tai bỏ ra participants – indicating this intervention effectively improves pain và disability outcomes.
The full study can be found in the Arthritis Care và Research Journal November 2011.
Fall prevention benefits…
Tai chi helps older people to lớn improve their balance, muscle strength và confidence, so they’re less likely lớn fall & injure themselves. The CDC even recommends our Tai đưa ra for Arthritis program for fall prevention.
Tai đưa ra for Fall Prevention study (2007)
This was the largest fall prevention study in the world, with 702 participants. Weekly community-based Tai đưa ra classes significantly reduced the number of falls, as well as the risk of multiple falls by 70%. The full study was published by the Journal of American Geriatric Society.