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Tai Chi 101: A Gentle Form of Exercise to Relieve Stress

Monday, April 05, 2021 8:25 AM

By: Lauren McRae

You may have heard of yoga, but have you heard of Tai Chi (TIE-CHEE)? If you’re looking for a way to reduce stress during COVID-19, consider this gentle form of exercise that’s similar, but also very different.

Originating in ancient China and developed for self-defense, Tai Chi is a very effective exercise for your overall health of mind and body. It’s evolved into a graceful form of exercise that’s used for stress reduction and a variety of other health concerns.

There are many different styles and forms of Tai Chi, the major ones being Chen, Yang, Wu, Wu (different words in Chinese) and Sun. Each form has its only features, but all styles share the same essential principles.

Tai Chi

Who can do Tai Chi?

Tai Chi is low impact and puts minimal stress on muscles and joints, making it generally safe for all ages and fitness levels. In fact, because Tai Chi is a low-impact exercise, it may be especially suitable if you're an older adult who otherwise may not exercise.

Why do Tai Chi?

Tai Chi is all about integrating the mind with the body; control of movements and breathing; generating internal energy, mindfulness, loosening the muscles and finding serenity. The main purpose is cultivating “qui” or life to help energy flow through the body.

Tai Chi helps improve muscular strength, flexibility, fitness, your immune system, relieve pain and improve your overall quality of life. It’s a gentle form of exercise.

Benefits of Tai Chi?

  • Decreased stress, anxiety and depression
  • Improved mood
  • Improved aerobic capacity
  • Increased energy and stamina
  • Improved flexibility, balance and agility
  • Improved muscle strength and definition
  • Enhanced quality of sleep
  • Enhanced immune system
  • Help lower blood pressure
  • Improve joint pain
  • Improve symptoms of congestive heart failure
  • Improve overall well-being
  • Reduce risk of falls in older adults

Start today by seeking guidance from a qualified Tai Chi instructor. You can find Tai Chi classes at the Chicago Botanic Garden – where an instructor will teach you how to practice forms safely, especially if you have injuries, chronic conditions, balance or coordination problems. Tai Chi is slow and gentle, however, it’s important to learn the proper techniques so you don’t get injured.