Discovering new well-being practices has been one of my favorite activities lately.
After Yoga and Meditation, I discovered something new during my retreat in Fuerteventura: Tai Chi.
In this article, we will share with you the history of Tai chi, the benefits and advantages of practicing it.
What is Tai Chi?
Tai Chi is a mind-body exercise originating from ancient China, where it started as a famous martial art.
It’s impossible to describe this complex art in one sentence. At the heart of it, Tai Chi is a moving meditation in the form of a series of gentle moves that create harmony between the mind and body. The ultimate purpose is to cultivate our inner life energy (qi) to flow smoothly and powerfully through the body. This is a spiritual experience, as much as a physical one.
Movements are fluid, graceful, circular and slow. Breathing is deep, aiding visual and mental concentration. This relaxes the body and allows the life force to flow freely.
This practice is so effective because it consists of exercises that are equally balanced between yin and yang (opposite forces that complement each other, such as dark and light, or female and male).
Who can practice Tai Chi?
Tai Chi can be practiced almost anywhere and it’s suitable for anyone, because exertion levels can be adjusted to suit your physical condition.
When practiced correctly, Tai Chi can be considered as a form of Qigong, (energy or breath skill), in which gentle, flowing movements are coordinated with the breath, as a means of improving and maintaining energy flow within the body.
Developed originally as a form of martial arts and self-defense, Tai Chi is now practiced worldwide for its host of mind and body benefits.
The principle of Tai Chi
Tai Chi is based upon a simple but profound philosophy; everything in the universe is made up of two equal yet opposing forces, both of which harmonize with one another to make a whole. This is demonstrated by the classic Taiji diagram of Yin and Yang, in which two opposite parts make a whole, and each one can be found in the other.
Difference between Tai chi & Yoga
While both Tai Chi and yoga involve fluid movements and a meditative mindset, there are some differences in how the two are implemented. For instance, yoga involves holding different poses while Tai Chi is a dance-like form of martial arts. Beyond that, there are not many differences in terms of purpose and benefits.
Both yoga and Tai Chi can help tone your muscles and build strength as well as be as low impact or rigorous as you want. They also have very similar benefits including boosting mood, improving posture, and managing symptoms of chronic illnesses. And, like Tai Chi, yoga offers many different styles ranging from gentle moves to physically demanding ones.
Benefits of Tai Chi for body and mind
- Get stronger for longer. Tai Chi is an exercise with significant benefits of balance, upper and lower body muscular strength and endurance, plus upper and lower body flexibility.
- Relief for asthma. Because there is a focus on proper breathing techniques, Tai Chi is incredibly beneficial for sufferers of asthma.
- Improve internal organ health. The fluid spiraling and bending movements found in Tai Chi, paired with breathing and meditation, massage the internal organs and release them from damaging constrictions. They can become constricted due to stress, poor posture and difficult working conditions.
- Relieve stress. Slow down and breathe! That’s what Tai Chi does. The practice creates a connection between body and mind, which ultimately leads to increased calmness.
During my stay in Fuerteventura, I had the chance to practice Tai Chi twice and both times felt very different yet very beneficial.
In the first time, we were in a small groupe of 4 and we practiced it in the middle of the nature with no noise or distraction. The only sound we heard was the wind and the birds. In the second time we were in a bigger group and we decided to go and practice it in the early morning to also see the sunrise. It was very special and the energy of the sun was present.
What I liked about Tai Chi is the mindfulness, the harmony and the fluidity between the breath and the movements leading to a slow dance of energies that awaken the body and mind.
I highly recommend you to try it and let us know what you think about it :)