What is Taiji (Tai Chi) and How Can It Help the Elderly or Disabled?

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“Today, Taijijuan stands as one of the great human achievements, an amalgamation of physical, mental and energetic skills.”

Taken from an article at http://www.marcsabin.com/whatistaiji.html

A person’s ability to continue practicing most fitness and sports programs diminishes with age; while one’s ability to perfect the breathing, forms and meditation of Taiji actually increase as one grows older, more experienced and wiser.  The fact that Taiji helps to realign the body and bring it back into balance, is of great importance as we age.  We experience joint stiffness, the pain of arthritis, and shortness of breath which in turn, causes us to slow down or stop exercising altogether.  That, of course, is the worst thing a person can do.

Exercise increases mobility and decreases stiffness and pain in the long run.  Taiji is a gentle exercise system that improves the natural flow of energy, relaxes the mind, reduces stress, and promotes deeper, more beneficial breathing.

Seated Taiji offers a fitness program for those who are unable to stand for the time necessary to practice even a short Taiji form, or who are confined to a wheelchair.  Even in a seated position, Taiji movements exercise muscles, joints and organs. Healthcare professionals/instructors can help their patients/students to improve their breathing and strengthen their lungs by guiding them to gently but fully expand and contract their lungs, synchronizing breath with each movement.  For ideas on safe and effective seated exercises, please visit our website for books on this subject: http://www.healingtaichi.com.

Taiji practice also helps us to focus our minds and increase mental clarity through the movements of our bodies and the activity of our minds as we concentrate on the flow of energy – particularly in relation to the energy present in our environment.  In the practice of Taiji, we must juggle several things at the same time.  We must concentrate on the area of the body we have targeted.  We must be concerned with the movement of energy, and knowledgeable about the existence and location of meridians and their juncture points.  At the same time, we need to be aware of the spatial relation between ourselves and our surroundings.

The practice of Taiji is also effective in balancing our emotions.  The five yin or solid organs produce a kind of essential energy which, in turn, generates five emotions: joy (agitation), anger, grief, worry and fear.  Anger is associated with the liver, grief with the lungs, worry with the spleen, fear with the kidneys, and joy or its negative expression as agitation, with the heart. Within normal limits, these emotions are necessary and healthy.  However, when any emotion becomes too powerful, uncontrollable or long term, our bodies’ organs weaken and become susceptible to disease.  Taiji, by energizing, stimulating and exercising each organ, eliminates excess emotional responses to events and calms the spirit.

Taiji stimulates and massages all our organs, balances all the normal functions of the body, and reduces stress that can cause out-of- control emotions.  The nature of Taiji is meditative – often identified as a “moving meditation” – allowing the mind to clear, the body to relax, and the emotions to return to a healthy balanced state.  All of this through the practice of one exercise program!


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