Tai Chi Chuan for Health
(from Experiential Anatomy Through Tai Chi Chuan by Calum Douglas-Reid)
When it comes to preventative medicine few things rival tai chi chuan with one notable exception being proper nutrition. It has been proven to benefit every major system in the body and help with illnesses as divers as cancer, stroke, diabetes, MS, Parkinson’s, and epilepsy. In its ability to develop balance it has few equals and from balance everything follows. From improved balance comes relaxation. As the body relaxes, circulation improves and oxygen and nutrients are better able to reach their destinations while waste products are more efficiently eliminated. After balance improved digestion is one of the first things people experience with tai chi chuan. As a form of chi kung (working with breath and energy: chi=breath, kung=time and effort/practice), practicing tai chi chuan works like self applied acupuncture in that it helps open and balance the same energetic system that acupuncturists work with. It is worth noting that in many of the studies demonstrating these benefits the participants would practice tai chi chuan for just two hours a week, sometimes only one. That is all you need to reap many of the health benefits of tai chi chuan.
Benefits of Chi Kung: Experimental Evidence*
Cardiovascular: Lower resting heart rate, less abnormal EKG, greater cardiac effifiency, stabilized blood pressure, less LDL (“bad cholesterol”), more HDL (“good cholesterol”).
Circulation: Improves microcirculation, peripheral circulation, prevents vascular spasms; very helpful for Raynaud’s syndrome, angina, migraine.
Digestive: Massages internal organs, improves peristalsis and appetite, less pathogenic bacteria in feces (healthier micro flora ). Positive effects on ulcers and constipation.
Brain: Slow, high-amplitude brain waves, improved cerebral blood flow, less incidence of stroke, helpful for paralysis and seizure disorders.
Mental Health: Decreased; stress response, Type A, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive, depression. Improved: memory, concentration, interpersonal sensitivity.
Respiratory: Slower respiratory rate, improved gaseous exchange, significant positive effects on asthma and bronchitis.
Immune System: More active immune cells, better targeting of antigens, significant anticancer effect.
Musculoskeletal: Increases strength, flexibility, bone density, improved coordination, beneficial for arthritis and osteoporosis.
Longevity: Improves: BP, vital capacity, cholesterol and hormone levels, kidney function, mental acuity, vision and hearing, skin elasticity, bone density, immune function. Increases physical strength, libido. Deactivates harmful free radicals. (*The Way of Qigong – Kenneth S. Cohen )