Licensed Massage Practitioner
AN INTRODUCTION TO TAI CHI
AN INTRODUCTION TO TAI CHI
The Dance of Health
According to most accounts Chinese medicine began around 6,000 years ago and focused on “Chi”, the vital energy or universal force found in all life. Einstein’s famous equation E=mc2 proved that everything in the universe is made out of energy. There are two types of Chi in the body. One is inherited from our parents providing the basic constitution of our body, thus some of us are born weak because our parents were weak, or if fortunate we were born with strong Chi. The other type comes from our daily nutrition, the air we breathe, the water we drink, and from energies such as oxygen and the earth’s magnetic field.
Chi breathes through main currents known as “Yin” and “Yang”, which are opposing and complementary creative forces in the universe (negative and positive), and we have to have both as we learn to live in harmony and balance or “Yuan”. Chi moves in the body along well-defined circuits called meridians or energy pathways. New research and technology actually shows meridians running through lymphatic tissue by using fluorescent magnetic nanoparticles. Each pair of meridians consists of both a yin and yang channel, and the philosophy of Chinese medicine is that all meridians must be full of Chi with the Yin and Yang energies in harmony or balance for optimal health and function. Chi, our life force, can be compared to how water flows in a riverbed. When our Chi is weak it stagnates in areas instead of flowing powerfully.
One of the many attributes Tai Chi has to offer is that it channels the flow of chi through the body’s meridians. Life is based on movement because energy moves, and the Chinese maintain that inactivity is one of the major causes of illness. Of all the medical exercises they have devised to both heal as well as prevent disease they consider Tai Chi to be the best form, as it benefits every part of the body.
The slow, gentle, dance-like form of Tai Chi practiced with deep breathing, focus on the here-and-now, and with powerful energy or Chi coming from an inner center, is not one of aggression but one of heart, mind, and body operating together to gather, store and then deliver energy.
Relaxing is an essential part of Tai Chi as the mind has to relax, the body has to relax, and the joints and muscles have to relax. When the muscles tense they block the flow of Chi, which can also cause pain. Once tension begins to disappear, breathing becomes calmer, and internal organs start to relax allowing the beneficial effects of relaxation to penetrate more and more deeply into the whole body.
Tai Chi also promotes the awareness of good posture and physical balance to help maintain the harmonious and balanced alignment of bones and muscles with the force of gravity. Based on Taoism, Tai Chi emphasizes becoming one with nature, and harmonizing oneself with the universe. The ultimate purpose in learning and practicing Tai Chi is to enjoy a perpetual and balanced state of health in body, mind and spirit, as we walk a peaceful path, while learning a martial art in order to protect ourselves if need be.