Tai Chi Mind Body Energy Exercise
The foundations of Ancient Chinese civilization were rooted in a harmonious way of life that was in balance with Heaven, Man and the Earth. The wise ancient Masters perceived that life was inevitably full of ups and downs, twists and turns and therefore the path to balance and harmony should be based on flexibility and the acceptance of changing environmental factors. One may adopt and cultivate a "Going with the flow" attitude to life just like a surfer rides a wave.
The path of harmony was called the "Great Way" or the "Tao". The wisdom of Tao is not restricted solely to the ancient Chinese culture but is also understood by all wisdoms that promotes balance in oneself and environment.
To cultivate and explore the wisdom of Tao the ancients used the arts of painting poetry calligraphy meditation and Tai Chi. Tai Chi is a pure moving expression of Taoist wisdom, teaching Taoist principles more clearly than any book.
Tai Chi is a healthy exercise as it balances strengthens and releases your Chi.
Chi is your energy,
your life force,
it is simply “You!”
The Aim of Tai Chi is to balance, strengthen and release yourself and become more in harmony with Tao………….. ; )
Tai Chi benefits and aims
The 3 Body “treasures” of Tai Chi Training
1. Breathing. Relaxation in the upright postures of Tai Chi relaxes the diaphragm at the base of the lungs increasing lung capacity. Slow deep breathing increases oxygen intake and stimulates endorphins and functions of the endocrine glands for maximum health and well feeling
2. Muscles. Muscle tone is tempered by dynamically tensing, relaxing, stretching and un-stretching making all the muscle groups more flexible, elastic and efficient.
3. Balance. The effects of stress and aging make muscles increasingly tense around the joints in order to stand upright. “Tensing to balance” negatively effects the articulation all the joints causing neck and shoulder stiffness and back pain, etc. By practicing relaxation while moving in Tai Chi you regain the use of the natural balance reflex and feel more flexible and comfortable. The World Health Organisation promotes the benefits of Tai Chi in relation balance for older people, seeing significantly less broken bones due to falls in Tai Chi practitioners. “Tai Chi is like surfing on land”
The 3 Mind “Treasures” of Tai Chi. Ting - Yi - Xin
1. Mindfulness and Awareness. The slow conscious movements of Tai Chi develop a high level of mindfulness. Being and moving in the “NOW” with mindfulness has great physiological benefits for anyone with high levels of stress and anxiety.
“Ting Jing” means Listening / Awareness – Mindfulness Skill
2. Mental focus. The Mind develops focused intent that consciously directs muscle strength and relaxation. Developing the strength of Mind intention has no limit.
“Yi “means Mind Intention. “Tai Chi uses Mind not force”
3. Balance and Centring. With Meditation the Mind can release from external distractions and can centre at the Heart or seat of the mind’s inner wisdom called Xin. Xin means Heart / Mind
Xin acts like a fulcrum without which the polar opposite powers of Yin and Yang become out of balance.
Good Tai Chi acts from the centre of Xin with Yi and Ting (Heart - Focus - Mindfulness)
The 3 Chi “gems” of Tai Chi. Balance - Dredge - Increase
In Chinese medicine Chi flow is central to health and function of the organs and general health. Tai Chi movement increases and balances Chi flow, dredging blocked acupuncture points or narrowed meridian channels, thereby improving health.
1. Balance Chi. The Chi flow must be even and continuous. Think of traffic flowing at different speeds creating jams and bottle necks due to the flow being un-even. If all the traffic travels at the same speed the flow is smooth. Un-even or extreme flow of Chi can affect the health of the body.
2. Dredge Chi. Meridian channels can develop sediment called stale Chi. Stale Chi is similar to the build up of plaque in the blood arteries or a build up of sediment on a river bed that eventually causes flooding to the surrounding fields and crops which the river normally irrigates.
3. Increase Chi. The development of Tai Chi style training in the Wu Dang Mountains of China was based on a simple formula; “Xin leads Yi - Yi leads Chi - Chi leads movement “ (“Heart/Mind leads mind intent - mind intent leads energy - energy leads body movement”.)
Wu Dang training emphasised Mind training (or internal training) over physical training. The mind’s potential strength was considered unlimited and therefore the chi strength in turn is also limitless. A new possibility of human potential had been born and the stories of the Wu Dang Masters’ legendary Chi skills spread far across China.
Tai Chi connects Mind intention (Yi) to the body’s Chi. Mind intent (Yi) increases frequency and strength of Chi flow. Yi strength and therefore Chi strength are naturally increased slowly with Tai Chi practice so that the whole energy system develops together in harmony. Pushing powerful flow of Chi through the body too quickly is like sending high voltage electricity through tiny wires. With constant Tai Chi training the strength of Chi Flow increases slowly over time.
The Yang family style of Tai Chi was the first to place the emphases on training Tai Chi for its health benefits and longevity. In 1956 the Peoples Party of China, after first rejecting all traditional cultural disciplines, realised the benefits of Tai Chi for a modern China and developed new simplified sequences of large stretching movements of the Yang family style Tai Chi. Yang style 24 Form is now the most popular Form for people wishing to practice Tai Chi for health .The wish of Yang family to improve the health of a nation has spread far beyond the borders of China into the whole world. Peace!