LookingForClues - Article

  Tai Chi

Reduce stress and improve tone and balance with Tai Chi!  This easy to learn form of exercise is made up of slow and dance like movements.  Tai Chi is based on an ancient Chinese martial art but is currently very popular all over the world.  Tai Chi is said to lower stress levels, increase flexibility, improve balance and posture, tone muscles, and even slow the aging process!  Since it is easy to learn, easy on joints and can be done standing or sitting, Tai Chi is popular with all age groups.

This web page is a great place to learn more about Tai Chi.  The first step is to learn what Tai Chi is, and how it can benefit you.  Further down on this page, we present an article called, " TAI CHI CHUAN FOR TOTAL FITNESS".  The article is written by a woman who claims that it helps keep her coordinated and mobile, despite her minor arthritis.  Read the article and learn how Tai Chi can help you to manage stress, control blood pressure, reduce arthritis pain, and age well.

After you have read our article, follow the Related Links we provide to other informative and interesting web sites about Tai Chi.  Also, be sure to buy a few of the Books we recommend below, to learn even more about Tai Chi.  One book is aimed at Seniors and one book comes with a DVD to help you to learn the movements!  After reading our article, I'm sure you'll want to get some of these books and see what Tai Chi can do for you!

 Related Links:

Wikipedia, Tai Chi 
Wikipedia has a very comprehensive article on Tai Chi.  Sections include Overview, Techniques, History, and Modern Forms.  Links included. 

T'ai Chi Magazine, T'ai Chi Information 
A list of over a dozen articles on Tai Chi, including "...Find a Good Teacher" and "What is the Proper way to Breathe...". 

Tai Chi Network 
According to the site, "The Tai Chi Network is an online community of teachers and students seeking Tai Chi instructors. This online community offers a way to easily connect teachers with students." 

Arthritis Today article on Tai Chi  
An article on Tai Chi from the Arthritis Foundation's web site.  It discusses Motions, Styles, Good Advice and What Science Says. 

Tai Chi articles 
A collection of articles on Tai Chi.  Categories include History, Benefits and Style.  

 Read These Books:
The most popular form of exercise in the world, T'ai Chi can slow the aging process, increase balance and flexibility, lower stress levels, and enhance the body's natural healing powers. Now, with over 300 illustrations, this updated #1-selling guide has been expanded so that readers can create a practice for themselves. Based on the latest research, this new edition includes:

- A DVD that demonstrates 64 groups of movements that are difficult to learn from print alone
- A new illustrated format
- An expanded and updated T'ai Chi yellow pages resource
- Expanded health/medical benefits
Whatever your level of fitness, Step-by-Step Tai Chi offers a simple but effective program of exercise and stress reduction, based on the ancient Chinese art of Tai Chi. In addition to learning the fundamentals of Tai Chi through his carefully designed four-level program, Master Lam Kam Chuen will introduce you to Small Circle Form Tai Chi, an original method he has developed - based on classical Tai Chi styles - requiring a minimum of time and space.
This book gives you all the information you need to undertake a safe, health-improving exercise regimen. These ancient Chinese exercises are fun and low impact and help to alleviate the pains of arthritis, fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel syndrome, and many other "senior" diseases.
The book presents an overview of the practice of t'ai chi-from the principles of the movements to the history of the art itself. It discusses various positions and helps you understand what you can hope to accomplish. Plus, methods outlined in this guide can be performed standing or seated with no previous experience necessary, and taking into consideration limited range of movement.
All exercises are presented in an easy-to-learn style, with true stories illustrating the benefits that other mature adults have gained from these practices. Whether you are just beginning t'ai chi or simply looking for a supplemental text to use out of class, this your guide.
Author Stewart McFarlane's years of teaching experience and his extensive theoretical knowledge will help you learn the physical disciplines of t'ai chi ch'uan, which tone your muscles, improve circulation, and increase flexibility and posture. His clear explanations strengthen both the physical and the spiritual practices that will revitalize your life. All the exercises, movements, and stances are explained in detail and illustrated with full-color step-by-step photographs. Footprint diagrams show the correct foot placements and weight distribution essential for each stance. Precise explanations and photographs enable you to test many positions with a partner.

Enjoy our exclusive Feature Article:


by Claire Richards   4/5/06

Tai Chi Chuan began in fourteenth-century China, but it is very much alive in twenty-first century America. The patterns of Tai Chi are slow and dance like, deceptively gentle. In return for dedicated practice, Tai Chi can reduce stress, quiet the mind, and improve physical fitness; all without shrinks, treadmills or tranquilizers.

Quieting the mind first drew me to Tai Chi. Back in the seventies, people were meditating, visualizing, analyzing, and otherwise seeking Enlightenment. I failed miserably at these disciplines. I simply could not empty my mind and chant OOOHMMM for twenty minutes. Then I discovered Tai Chi. We didn't sit, we moved. We didn't empty our minds, we focused them on the form. I not only became less distractible, but more graceful and better coordinated as well.

Over the years, the physical fitness benefits of Tai Chi have assumed new importance in my life. It keeps me coordinated, helps protect my aging bones from osteoporosis and enables me to move freely despite some minor arthritis. Yes, it does these things; it really does work.

Managing Stress

Stress is a daily reality in our hectic, hard-driving society. Under stress, adrenalin floods the bloodstream, nerves scream, heart rate soars, and muscles tense for fight-or-flight. This response is warranted if you happen to be running from a pack of hungry wolves; it is not warranted if you're simply coping with the endless and annoying details of ordinary life. Chronic stress makes you a prime candidate for heart attack, stroke, or any number of other serious conditions.

Trying to deal with stress by telling yourself to relax is useless; the very process makes you more tense than ever. It's a bit like trying not to think of elephants; next thing you know, a herd of lumbering pachyderms is rumbling through your head.

Tai Chi works so well on stress because it doesn't focus on it. It substitutes positive behaviors for negative ones, overcoming physical tension with purposeful movement and mental chatter with concentration on the unfolding pattern of that movement.

Controlling Blood Pressure

Tai Chi's effect on stress raised interest in other possible benefits. Beginning in the late twentieth century, a number of scientific studies produced encouraging results. In the mid-1990s, Dr. Deborah Young of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions conducted a 12-week study to determine how Tai Chi affects blood pressure. She recruited sixty-two subjects, all overweight and at least 60 years of age. Half participated in an aerobic fitness program. The other half did Tai Chi.

Dr. Young expected aerobics to produce a substantial decline in blood pressure, and Tai Chi to show little or none. To her surprise, the numbers were incredibly close: 8.4 systolic (top number) with aerobics; 7.0 with Tai Chi.

Reducing Arthritis Pain

Dr. Paul Lam, a family practice physician in Sidney, Australia, was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in his late twenties. In searching for ways to control his condition, he happened upon Tai Chi Chuan. He discovered that it eased away muscular tension, kept arthritic joints moving, and gradually extended the range of motion.

Lam later created a special Tai Chi program for arthritis, which has been endorsed by Arthritis foundations in Australia, the United States, and many other countries. Even elderly, sedentary people can achieve these benefits without undue strain upon their heart, lungs, or muscles.

Aging Well

With or without arthritis, older people stay healthier with Tai Chi. It helps people over seventy build muscle strength, increase flexibility, and improve balance. Balance is especially important in late old age; falls are responsible for many broken bones and other injuries to the elderly.

A study at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, GA found that seniors who practice Tai Chi reduce their risk of falling by more than 47 percent. Of course, such benefits are not limited to the elderly: "Tai Chi is great for general klutziness," said a 30-year-old student with balance difficulties. "Before Tai Chi, I could trip over thick air."

When all is said and done, perhaps the greatest benefits of Tai Chi are those which are difficult if not impossible to analyze or quantify: grace, serenity, and a quiet self-assurance for people of any age or stage in life. 

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