The health and wellbeing benefits of tai chi have been acknowledged over the centuries. The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi is where I refer people to, who appear to have a need to understand the benefits of tai chi and qigong from a scientific perspective. For myself, I try to listen to my body and feel the benefits. But each to their own. In a nutshell, the physical benefits are summarised here. But that’s only part of the story – the emotional and psychological effects vary from person to person. Feedback from weekly classes, and from our WoW retreats in Mallorca often include the following: “I feel more relaxed – less stressed – more alert – more aware of my body and how I move/hold myself – less anxious – sleeping better – less depressed – feel “grounded” – physically tired, in a good way – better able to concentrate – feel accomplished – enjoy life more – have fun!”
No pain, big gains
Although tai chi is slow and gentle and doesn’t leave you breathless, it addresses the key components of fitness — muscle strength, flexibility, balance, and, to a lesser degree, aerobic conditioning. Here’s some of the evidence:
Muscle strength. Tai chi can improve both lower-body strength and upper-body strength. When practiced regularly, tai chi can be comparable to resistance training and brisk walking.
“Although you aren’t working with weights or resistance bands, the unsupported arm exercise involved in tai chi strengthens your upper body,” says internist Dr. Gloria Yeh, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. “Tai chi strengthens both the lower and upper extremities and also the core muscles of the back and abdomen.”
Flexibility. Tai chi can boost upper- and lower-body flexibility as well as strength.
Balance. Tai chi improves balance and, according to some studies, reduces falls. Proprioception — the ability to sense the position of one’s body in space — declines with age. Tai chi helps train this sense, which is a function of sensory neurons in the inner ear and stretch receptors in the muscles and ligaments. Tai chi also improves muscle strength and flexibility, which makes it easier to recover from a stumble. Fear of falling can make you more likely to fall; some studies have found that tai chi training helps reduce that fear.
Aerobic conditioning. Depending on the speed and size of the movements, tai chi can provide some aerobic benefits. If your clinician advises a more intense cardio workout with a higher heart rate than tai chi can offer, you may need something more aerobic as well.
Come and join us on our 12th Annual WoW Week of Wellness on October 27th and see what tai chi does for you! And if you already play with tai chi, let us know how it makes you feel, and leave a comment. We’d love to hear from you.
(source original pic: David Wolfe/Facebook)
David Wolfe neatly summed the best six doctors for a happy and healthy human being. We’ve got them all nailed (and some) at our forthcoming WoW Mallorca retreat, where we still have a few spaces. A good friend thought David had missed one out though – “Connecting with great people. Connectivity is so important for mental and physical wellbeing.” We’d agree with that and clients each year testify that connecting with great people is a given at the wonderful surroundings at Son Ametler.
Are there other doctors you think contribute to your sense of wellbeing? We’d love to hear your thoughts.
Tomorrow is World Tai Chi and Qi Gong Day (WTCQD).
The idea is a simple one. At 10am local time, tai chi players across the globe will be doing their tai chi thing; in parks, beaches, woods, shopping malls, mountain tops, schools, gardens, offices, wherever! Starting in New Zealand it sends a tidal wave of positive, healing energy around our world and to all people.
In 2015, over 80 countries joined in. Expectations for this year are even higher.
I’ve celebrated this day once on Exeter’s Cathedral Green, where 50 or so players from different tai chi schools played together, and some bloke on a bike memorably rode by, shouting “weirdos!”. I remember laughing and thinking, “actually he was the odd one out!”
My favourite WTCQD venue remains up on the clifftop where we welcomed the sunrise over the sea at Branscombe beach.
You don’t need to be in an organised event. Wherever you are, and even if you’ve never taken a class, you can join in. At 10am, just stop and be still. Standing upright, comfortable and relaxed, feel the connection beneath your feet into the earth, and from the top of your head up to the cosmos. Take a few slow, deep breaths in and out, think good thoughts. Feel connected to your earth, your cosmos. Be part of that tidal wave of healing energy.
One World, One Breath.
20th March is an auspicious day – not only a solar eclipse (don’t look directly at it), but also International Day of Happiness. It seems like a great day to play some tai chi, take a walk on the beach, watch a solar eclipse with the right eye protection, have a massage, dance in wet grass, laugh with good friends, a random kindness to a stranger, a hug, some mindful breathing, a walk barefoot in the sand – whatever it might be to make you happy, and to share some happiness with others. Such simple actions and thoughts can nurture your sense of wellbeing, and that of others too.
And it needn’t be on just one day of the year that we have a sense of wellness. Small moments each day can keep our wellness batteries topped up. What frequently happens though is that life and work gets in the way and we neglect our wellness for too long.
The perfect way to recharge your wellness batteries? Join us on our Week of Wellness, a treat of a week of tai chi, holistic therapies and walking in beautiful rural Mallorca, October 10-17th 2015. On International Day of Happiness, make sure to book your Autumn Wellness recharge. “Wellness at its best“.