Tai Chi, also known as shadow boxing, originated from China several thousand years ago and derives from qigong, an ancient Chinese discipline of martial arts that involves slow meditative body movements that were initially intended for self-defence and to promote relaxation and deep inner peace.
With the popularity of tai chi growing, you can be sure that the groups of people you see in the park moving gracefully with flowing movements are in fact practicing tai chi.
Research and anecdotal evidence suggests that tai chi can improve balance and prevent falls, a key issue for older people. Because tai chi uses slow and purposeful movements and draws on the co-ordination of certain parts of the body, it challenges your balance and stability which is important for overall movement function.
Further studies suggest that through strengthening of key muscles and an increased supply of blood and oxygen to the body, tai chi may also be good at helping to reduce pain and ease of breathing.
In addition to this, it has also been suggested that tai chi can improve mental health by reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety. Similar to yoga breathing techniques, tai chi draws on co-ordinated breathing, movement and mental concentration which can aid in balancing the mind-body connection to further promote inner calmness.
What is clear though, is that tai chi is a form of low impact exercise that you can start and continue to progress to a higher level no matter your age or physical condition.With so many different styles available in the modern era, it is important for beginners to find a form that they can enjoy and that can bring them the benefit they are looking for.