As taijiquan (t’ai chi chuan) cultivates Qi, our life force, it is reasonable to say that it benefits every area of our lives, and a true list of the benefits oftaijiquan would be infinite. The fundamental principle of Chinese Medicine is that if our Qi is flowing we have health; when it blocks, disease comes. Taijiquan uses postural adjustment to align the body so that Qi unblocks and flows, and trains a way of moving that further aligns and unblocks while circulating Qi.
There are some benefits that are commonly sought and found listed below. If you have a particular need, you can ask your teacher to explain how taijiquan can help you with that need.
Promotes deep relaxation
Improves your posture and balance
Strengthens your whole body, particularly back, core and legs
Deepens your breathing
Calms your mind and helps with mental focus
Improves your circulation
Improves self defense
Brings elasticity back to your ligaments and tendons
Gently moves your joints back into their natural alignment
Strengthens your bones, and
Provides an excellent form of moving and still meditation.
Originally,taijiquan was primarily a martial art and it is still a peerless method of self-defence, however, for most people it is sought as a method of improving health of mind and body, and as a form of moving meditation. Whatever your goal, the techniques are the same, and those interested in health will improve their self-defence as a natural by-product of training without the sometimes risky methods of other martial arts, while those training for self-defence will get the marvellous health benefits benefits of an excellent, health-restoring movement system and Zen meditation as their bonus.
From the earliest years in the Chen family Village (Chenjiagou) taiji was practiced by the whole village, from children to the elderly. Methods have been cultivated over the last four centuries that work for all ages and body types. As a result taijiquan now has a solid reputation for treating and preventing complaints of the elderly such as arthritis, poor balance, stiff joints and bone strength as well as those that afflict people of all ages, such as posture and circulation problems, emotional and physical stress, poor breathing and mental clarity.
Essentially taijiquan trains a state of being where the body and mind develop their natural strength and the ability to be relaxed in all types of circumstances. The feeling of bliss, calm and ease gradually becomes your normal state.
Taijiquan is renowned for developing truly deep relaxation of the whole body as well as the mind. The gentle flexing, twisting movements of the Silk Reeling exercises (Chan Si Gong) that are at the core of taiji movement, loosen chronically stiff muscles, guide joints back into their natural alignment, while calming the mind with gentle moving meditation. You develop the ability to relieve stress without the need for any equipment, and difficult situations become easier to deal with and even feel like enjoyable challenges.
Students often report noticeable improvement from the first lesson which, with further training, becomes regular experiences of a depth of relaxation that is truly blissful. Everything, physical, emotional and mental feels easier and, with less energy bound up in tension, we feel a greater sense of energy and exuberance. This improvement is exponential, and the better our taiji skill the greater the benefits.
Some feel that we live in times in which it is very difficult to relax, but taijiquan was forged at a time and place where its methods were put to a far greater test, when life or death in the village depended on the success of the crops, and at the battlefield on martial skill with weapons and bare hands. Taijiquan has, from its beginning, taught relaxation under far more trying conditions than our modern life. We believe that this is a major reason why taijiquan is the most efficient and effective of exercise systems.
Physical balance is more than just important, it is life-preserving, particularly for the elderly where a fall often precipitates a rapid decline in health and mobility. In younger years good physical balance can prevent painful ligament wear, sprains and tears, and many other potential injuries, while cultivating a healthy natural posture.
With the energetic balancing techniques of taijiquan we can relieve and virtually eliminate neck and shoulder tension, digestive and breathing problems, improve our relationships through better emotional balance,and help us to know for ourselves how much of anything is best without having to depend on external authorities. By attuning ourselves to balance in all its aspects, taijiquan is able to guide us along the path of balance that makes us feel like we are continually getting the best out of life.
Mental Calm and Clarity
Taijiquan is a superb form of Zen meditation that teaches us how to make our minds clear and peaceful, live in the moment, and be able to focus better on whatever we need to do.
By investing our mind in the bio-feedback from our body and our breathing, while observing the mind itself, we fill our
mind with the present and it becomes easier and easier to let go of distracting thoughts and emotions. We use the same principle of observation and gentle adjustment to cultivate our spiritual state as well.
Our body and mind work in harmony, eliminating internal conflict, making serenity a daily experience.