Tai Chi: A Gentle Practice to Alleviate Anxiety

Jan/10/2021 / by Melanie Fourie

The languid movements associated with Tai Chi, often referred to as ‘meditation in motion’ can be mesmerizing. Perhaps you’ve watched others practice this gentle, ancient art form in nature; their movements mimicking a tree caress or the slow flapping of a bird’s wings. There’s a strong emphasis on deep inhaling and exhaling here! Sessions can also resemble a relaxing Billy Blanks-inspired Taebo cooling down session.

You may be yearning to try it, but wonder if you could ever fit exercise into your busy schedule. Tai Chi may be the perfect antidote to unwind after a tiresome day. And if you’re strapped for time, don’t fret! All you need is a minimum of 5 minutes per day. Tai Chi can also help strengthen your muscles, while improving flexibility, but what exactly does it entail? Read further to unravel more.

What Is Tai Chi and How Did it Originate?

According to the Tai Chi for Health Institute, Tai Chi is an art form that embraces ‘the mind, body, and spirit.’ Its goal is to ‘cultivate the qi or life energy,’ so it can flow more efficiently throughout the body. The practice aims to bring ‘total harmony of the inner and outer self.’ This occurs when the mind and body are integrated with Tai Chi. There are also different variations of Tai Chi, including Yang, Sun, Wu, and Chen. The practice melds meditation, posture or forms, and breathing when you are moving or stationary.

Tai Chi originated in China as a martial art and is also referred to as Nei Chia, which describes the chi, the body’s vital energy, and the softness of the art. According to The Tai Chi Society, Tai Chi denotes ‘supreme ultimate.’ Chinese astronomers also used the name when referring to cosmic forces. Since its inception prior to 496BC, it has evolved into several forms as a result of alterations made by various sources.

Why the Busy Woman Should Practice Tai Chi

Mayo Clinic notes that Tai Chi not only assists with alleviating anxiety and stress, but that it could boost balance and flexibility too. It’s also safe for every fitness level and age as it’s classified as a low-impact. Plus, it’s inexpensive, since no equipment is required.

Health benefits of this gentle exercise includes:

  • Lowered stress and anxiety levels
  • Reduced depression
  • More energy
  • Improved aerobic capacity
  • Improved agility
  • Increased muscle definition and strength

Tai Chi helps you to relax, which may lead to improving your sleep. Once your sleep patterns stabilize, then this will enhance your overall immunity.   Tai Chi also helps improve balance. Joint pain like arthritis may also be alleviated, as your range of motion is boosted. The relaxing nature of Tai Chi can also combat hypertension.

Some Tips for Starting Out, and What You’ll Need

Before you commence with any form of fitness regime, do consult with your healthcare practitioner first. Be sure to wear loose clothing for optimal comfort. Your shoes should be well-fitting too. Sneakers are ideal to wear when performing Tai Chi.

If you are practicing indoors,  use a gym mat to prevent slipping. If you are exercising outdoors, stay on the grass or utilize a padded mat to cushion your joints.

Don’t forget to warm up too! Some warm up exercises include a walk, doing some lunges, circling your hips gently, or circling your ankles and wrists. You could also roll your neck and shoulders backwards and forward, or take a warm shower as a warm-up. Another way to warm up is to shake your arms in a floppy fashion to help loosen those muscles!

Tai Chi pose chart with techniques that are simple to execute.

Remember that if you’re a newbie, you need to build up your fitness level gradually. You could start by practicing Tai Chi for 5 minutes daily, then progress to longer sessions with time. It’s also best to seek guidance regarding a workout plan from a board-certified instructor first.

Remember that with Tai Chi, all that matters is that you form a habit of practicing daily, and that this habit will eventually benefit you.