How T'ai Chi Can Help Heal You
Dr. Chunyan Teng and Dr. James Kan
New York Acupuncture Healthcare
Dr. Kan was the national T’ai Chi college champion in China in 1991 and placed third in 1992. He teaches T'ai Chi in NYC and New Jersey where his classes have been attended by students from five states.
T'ai Chi has been passed down for centuries as a method of promoting physical, mental, and emotional health by gently exercising the mind, body, and spirit. Originally practiced in China as a powerful martial art for self-defense, T'ai Chi has survived because of its many vital health benefits. People who practice this ancient art on a regular basis develop self defense skills as well as more physical strength, flexibility, balance, coordination, and peace of mind.
T'ai Chi opens the door to a lifetime of health, relaxation, and spiritual development. This low-impact, slow-motion exercise takes you through a series of stances named for animal actions — for example, "white crane spreads its wings" — or martial arts moves, such as "box both ears." As you move, you breathe deeply, focusing your attention on bodily sensations. The muscles are relaxed rather than tensed, the joints are not fully extended or bent, and connective tissues are not stretched.
T'ai Chi is easy on the joints and can be enjoyed by people of any age or physical condition. You can practice T’ai Chi even if you are not in top shape or the best of health. T’ai Chi can be easily adapted for anyone, from the most fit to people confined to wheelchairs or recovering from surgery. T'ai Chi unites mind and body, setting the stage for its graceful, flowing, and harmonious movements. Detailed and precise in nature, T'ai Chi calls forth an alert yet calm mindset. Through practice, a new awareness of your body and its relationship to its surroundings is developed. Many people report a deeper feeling of relaxation throughout the day.
T’ai Chi is a simple, pleasurable, effective form of physical, emotional, mental, social, and spiritual “heath insurance”. Every morning in parks and on beaches across China, millions of people practice T’ai Chi which was derived from chi gong (energy management) exercises. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, our life force energy (called "chi" or "qi") is carried through the body in a complex system of vessels (meridians), and follows the free flow of blood within the body. Meridians conduct chi which is activated by acupuncture or acupressure.
Acupuncture points are connected to locations in the body where more blood is concentrated. Restriction of the blood flow restricts the movement of the vital life force energy and causes disharmony in the functioning of the organs. Tai Chi and Qi Gong improve the flow of blood to move chi more freely throughout the body. So, Tai Chi results in improved health and immunity, higher energy levels, and enhanced mental and emotional functioning.
This ancient wisdom is now validated by Western science which has discovered that acupuncture points have higher concentrations of micro-vessels near the surface of the skin.
T’ai Chi for Medical Conditions
T’ai Chi is often described as "meditation in motion." However, it might also be called "medication in motion" because there is growing evidence that this mind-body-spirit practice has value in treating or preventing many health problems. Peter Wayne Ph.D. is the founder and director of the Tree of Life Tai Chi Center, an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and Research Director of the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine jointly based at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School.
Dr. Wayne has been trained and certified to teach by numerous internal arts masters. During 2000, he studied in China and received certification from the World Academic Society of Medical Qigong. Dr. Wang says: "A growing body of carefully-conducted research is building a compelling case for T’ai Chi as an adjunct to standard medical treatment for the prevention and rehabilitation of many conditions commonly associated with age."
The article Harvard Medical School Cites the Health Benefits of Tai Chi reports that when combined with standard treatment, T’ai Chi appears to be helpful with several medical conditions including arthritis, low bone density, breast cancer, heart disease, heart failure, hypertension, Parkinson's disease, sleep problems, and stroke.A study showed that people who practiced T’ai Chi improved more than 30% in lower-body strength and 25% in arm strength -- almost as much as those who participated in resistance training, and more than those assigned to brisk walking.
Dr. Gloria Yeh, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School points out that, “T’ai Chi strengthens both the lower and upper extremities and also the core muscles of the back and abdomen.”