We all want to be healthy and fit; however, did you know that there is a difference between being healthy and being fit? We can work to make our muscles stronger, our body fat lower, our cardiovascular system much more efficient, and our body free of illness. We might indeed be fit, but we may not be healthy. Health has an aspect to it that is much more than the absence of disease. It is also when one’s body, spirit, and mind are functioning energetically and vitally. It is when the whole human being is sound and aware with the force of life.
A strong life force gives us vitality, awareness, and health. A weak life force results in sluggishness, fatigue, and illness. In traditional Chinese medicine, this life force is called “chi”. Disease, in this context, is due to blocks or imbalances in the flow of chi within our bodies. Making one’s chi-energy flow smoothly and powerfully is the basic goal of Chinese medicine and it is a primary element in tai chi.
By practicing tai chi, one is attempting to create an inner balance of one’s chi-energy and thereby a healthy spirit, mind, and body. Some of the many health benefits that tai chi offers to its practitioners are listed below:
- It is a low-impact activity, which reduces the risk of injury
- It can be practiced almost anywhere at anytime by anyone
- It takes one’s joints gently through their range of motion helping to improve flexibility
- Because tai chi is a weight bearing exercise, it promotes gradual bone development and muscle strength
- Practicing tai chi develops coordination and balance
- It can lower blood pressure and improve circulation
- Through regular practice, one can reduce physical, emotional, and mental stress
Tai chi increases one’s self-awareness and is frequently recommended as a complementary therapy to the conventional treatment of disorders such as fibromyalgia, arthritis, multiple sclerosis and cancer. Tai chi continually offers opportunities for a deeper and richer insight and development of one’s emotional balance and spiritual strength.
At Ji Hong Tai Chi, there are a variety of classes and styles. Students can choose the one most appropriate for their interests. An experienced instructor will start the class with some gentle warm up exercises to prepare the mind and body. Then the teacher will lead the class through the sequence of movements, which are part of the form.
The quality of instruction is high and the curriculum has been well thought out. Movements are taught with careful attention to posture and form and the individual development of each student. The atmosphere at Ji Hong Tai Chi is one of peace and calm. By going through the slow and gentle movements of a tai chi form with a good instructor, one easily and safely can begin the journey of a healthier lifestyle.
Carl J.O. Cooke