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The term tai chi is short for “t”ai chi ch’üan,” meaning grand or supreme ultimate” and “fist”.
A natural solution for health issues, it has numerous benefits, including elevating mood, reducing stress, increasing strength and stamina, and addressing chronic conditions such as heart disease, insomnia, joint pain and high blood pressure. Tai chi works by balancing the opposing, yet complementary energies of yin (feminine) and yang (masculine), which improves the flow of qi (life force energy) and overall vitality.
The History of Tai Chi
While its exact origins are unknown, Tai chi’s invention is often credited to either 12th century Taoist Zhang Sanfeng or 17th century Ming Dynasty martial arts master Chen Wangting. The term tai chi is short for “t’ai chi ch’üan,” meaning “grand or supreme ultimate” and “fist”.
Today millions worldwide practice tai chi. The practice consists of a series of choreographed flowing forms—mindful movements named for animal actions—that make-up an entire sequence. While the movements are as graceful as a waltz, when performed quickly they can be a form of self-defense or combat.
Benefits of Tai Chi
A growing body of research has investigated how Tai chi, classified under Traditional Chinese or Alternative Medicine, can treat and improve quality of life in those with a wide array of conditions across numerous populations. Studies have been conducted with children, adults and the elderly, as well as people with Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, back pain, cardiovascular disease and HIV/AIDS. While more research is needed, the benefits of tai chi appear to be associated with enhanced mental and physical health, sleep and reduced stress. These benefits include:
1. Mood elevator
2. Headache relief
3. Balance and stability
4. Bone density
5. Blood pressure
6. Heart health
This article was written by Ellen Albertson, PhD, RDN, CD, CPHWC, a Psychologist, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Certified Professional Health & Wellness Coach, Reiki Master, and Mindful Self-compassion Teacher. An expert on wellbeing, Ellen has appeared on Extra, the Food Network, and NBC World News and has been quoted in Psychology Today, Eating Well, Reader’s Digest, and USA Today. The author of 4 books, she has also written for SELF, Better Homes & Gardens and Good Housekeeping. She brings 25 years of counseling and coaching experience to her teaching, writing, and healing practice. Connect with her on DrEllenAlbertson.com.