This Ancient Martial Art Could Be The Key To Boosting Your Overall Well-Being
When you think of tai chi, what kind of image instinctively comes to mind? Older folks swaying in sync together on a patch of green grass in the park? Us, too. But it’s time to start viewing this Chinese martial art as the practice that will give your health and well-being a full makeover.
Tai chi is an ancient, noncompetitive martial art that focuses on the mind-body connection, the fluidity of movement, breath control and mental concentration. There are quite a few styles of tai chi, but the majority of them share the same basic principles. It’s a gentle practice, but it boasts big benefits for anyone willing to give it a try.
It teaches you how to breathe.
Believe it or not, most of us don’t actually ever take full, long, deep breaths throughout the day. But this practice forces you to slow down and focus on diaphragmatic breathing — fully engaging your diaphragm as you inhale and exhale completely. This simple change can help your cardiovascular health since it leads to the improved oxygenation of your blood. The better you breathe, the more oxygen your blood can absorb and carry throughout your body to vital organs. Deep breathing is also a major way to calm the central nervous system, relieving the body of unwanted stress (and accompanying toxins) as well.
It works wonders for your balance.
Many of us don’t realize just how important balance is until we lose it in a precarious situation and face an injury or two. But being physically attuned to how your different joints align and how the slightest of movement affects the entire orientation of your body can lead to the strengthening of the tiniest, hidden muscles you didn’t even know you had. It’s like hiking, but for the world of martial arts.
It helps in the posture and flexibility departments, too.
Because the movements of tai chi focus so intently on fluidity, your muscles get a safe stretch throughout a full practice. Over time, the martial art can improve your range of motion and general joint mobility, making it both a great preemptive strengthening routine and a solid rehabilitating activity. It also directly addresses poor posture through the serious breathwork and series of standing poses, so it can be a helpful activity to take up on either end of the workday.
It teaches you how to harness your own inner power.
Honestly, we dare you to try tai chi for 10 minutes and tell us that you don’t already feel more focused and relaxed afterward. Coordinating breathwork with particular movements that hone in on the natural energy flow in your body immediately connects your mind to the rest of you. Think of it as one of the most effective versions of moving meditation. It’s ideal for those who can’t sit still for more than 30 seconds at a time, and it can help to quickly reduce the negative effects of stress you feel after a long day.
The best part: You don’t have to go hunting for a tai chi class or tag along with that group in the park to reap the benefits. YouTube is a great place to start with beginner videos, and you can follow along from the comfort of your own living room whenever your schedule allows.
If you ask us, it’s never a bad time to tune deeper into yourself and stretch the mind and body simultaneously. Here’s to channeling that beautiful energy that lives inside each of us.