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What is Tai Chi?

Tai chi, also called tai chi chuan, is a noncompetitive, self-paced system of gentle physical exercise and stretching. Each posture flows into the next without pause, ensuring that your body is in constant motion.  Originating in China with roots in martial arts, Qigong and traditional Chinese medicine, it has been

growing in popularity in the United States.


Tai chi has many different styles. Each style may subtly emphasize various tai chi principles and methods. There are variations within each style. Some styles may focus on health maintenance, while others focus on the martial arts aspect of tai chi.   Tai Chi's soft flowing movements and internal focus share some of the mind-body principles of Yoga, but without the need to get down on the floor or hold long uncomfortable poses. Don't let the gentle moves fool you; thirty minutes of Tai Chi burns the same number of calories as thirty minutes of brisk walking.


Tai Chi exercise does not involve any sort of religious practice. Students can fit the internal mind-body focus achieved through Tai Chi to whatever spirituality they choose or concentrate solely on the physical fitness aspects of the instruction.  To learn more about Tai Chi, its history and the health benefits click on "Brief History of Tai Chi".  

Why try Tai Chi?

When learned correctly and performed regularly, tai chi can be a positive part of an overall approach to improving your health. The benefits of tai chi may include:*

  • Decreased stress, anxiety and depression

  • Improved mood

  • Improved aerobic capacity

  • Increased energy and stamina

  • Improved flexibility, balance and agility

  • Improved muscle strength and definition

Some evidence also indicates that tai chi may help:

  • Enhance quality of sleep

  • Enhance the 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


How can I maintain the benefits of Tai Chi?

While you may gain some benefit from a tai chi class that lasts 12 weeks or less, you may enjoy greater benefits if you continue tai chi for the long term and become more skilled. You may find it helpful to practice tai chi in the same place and at the same time every day to develop a routine. But if your schedule is erratic, do tai chi whenever you have a few minutes. You can even practice the soothing mind-body concepts of tai chi without performing the actual movements when you are in a stressful situation, such as a traffic jam or a tense work meeting, for instance.

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