Why Practice Tai Chi?

[pullquote align=”right”]Tai chi differs from all other forms of exercise in the way that it approaches the body, mind, and health holistically.[/pullquote]








Think of your favorite hobby.  Does it speak to health, exercise, fun, history, and culture?  If so, good for you.  You are going to embrace tai chi.  If not, think of tai chi as a great hobby that you can run with in any direction.

Think about your favorite physical activity.  Does it cause injury?  (or) Do you get excited about tweaks or sore muscles because they are messages that you’re improving?  Is there an age when you won’t be able to participate?  Do you get better with age or worse?
practice tai chi

Tai chi provides an integrated system to improve health, have fun, stay interested, and build on your progress as a lifelong learner.

We have created our own version of David Letterman’s Top Ten with our:

Top Ten Reason’s to Practice Tai Chi

  1. Health:  Innumerable studies indicate better functioning of the central nervous system, digestion, and reduced blood pressure.
  2. Balance:  This refers to balance in life and also physical balance.  Tai chi exploits dual forces (yin/yang, hot/cold, left/right, up/down…) to show how they complement each other rather than oppose.  People who practice tai chi benefit from direct and immediate improvement in physical balance.  They benefit indirectly from being able to apply balance to work, life, and work-life situations.  How do you know what hot is?  Because you describe it in terms of not-cold.  That one is easy.  How do you know what not stressed is?  Hmm.  We are suggesting that tai chi teaches a framework that can be used to evaluate how to move away from a polarity that you want to change in life.
  3. Stability:  Like balance, we have some immediate tangible physical benefits that we see in students who practice tai chi for only two weeks.  Additionally, the “sense of stability” can be used as a lens to view areas of life.  It taps into a robust gut feeling and we make the decision that feels more like the sensation when we are pleasantly rooted on two legs.
  4. Flexibility:  This deserves its own post as more western studies are pointing towards harmful effects from standard stretching which include reduced strength, pulled tendons, and reduced flexibility.  Flexibility in skin, muscles, joints, and thinking = youth and health.  When you proTai chi accomplishes this by performing continual movements with good posture.  The depth of posture that you admire in some practitioners was not developed from going lower.  It is developed from pulling up at the crown of the head and down at the tailbone.  This should sound counter intuitive and should also get you excited.  Westerners do static stretches, “exercise” and suffer joint pain and reduced flexibility.  Easterners do not stretch statically, often walk in the evenings with their hands behind their back (posture!) and retain flexibility.   Who is right here?  Are you getting interested?
  5. Reduced Stress:  Tai chi is mental and physical.  Stress is directly related to mental and physical tension. Let’s look an example.  Tai chi requires movements that are opposite to how you and I move throughout the day.  We walk in tai chi with the same hand and foot moving forward at the same time (versus opposing hand and foot).  This re-patterning moves us out of habitual postures (physical) and demands concentration (mental) which give our brain a break from our repetitious thoughts that we can be bludgeoned with all day long.  This additionally leads to cultivating creativity, improved sleep, etc.
  6. Increase Energy:  Tai chi builds strength and energy rather than taxing the body’s system to be followed by a recovery.
  7. Martial Application:  Partner work and movements are designed to develop an acute awareness of an opponent’s intentions.
  8. No Physical Limitations:  Everyone can benefit from tai chi and the forms can be modified or enhanced to match levels of abilities, age, and physical limitations.
  9. Social Support:  The same research that launched Crossfit has been benefiting tai chi practitioners for centuries.  Human’s crave community and share the desire to contribute or participate in something greater.
  10. Competition: Practitioners can attend tournaments for pushhands competitions or form performance that include open hand and weapons forms.

Scott Prath

Scott has been practicing and teaching tai chi and qigong since 2000. He is a lead instructor for the Austin Chen Tai Chi Association. His interest in the internal martial arts began after traveling in India and Nepal, and he has since traveled to China to train. Scott has published over 100 articles on tai chi with a focus on research showing the benefits of practicing.

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