An article by Ann Sutherland B.Sc., Physical Therapist (Taken from the September 2004 issue of Pettistree People)
Tai Chi is a Chinese discipline which originated at least six centuries ago. It was developed as a means to improve health. The unique combination of postures can have the following physical effects:
Tai Chi increases the circulation of blood and oxygen to all parts of the body. The slow rhythmic movements allow people of all ages to improve physical conditioning, decrease fatigue and develop endurance. Learning Tai Chi does not require over-exertion, but as one progresses the heart rate increases to aerobic exercise levels. The movements promote relaxed deep breathing. Tai Chi has been found to reduce high blood pressure.
One main goal of Tai Chi practice is to achieve proper alignment of the spine with the shoulder and pelvic girdles. Posture is naturally corrected. The slow sustained stretching improves flexibility in all joints. Both of these effects can reduce the natural degeneration of the spine and or joints which occurs with greater age.
All the major skeletal muscle groups are used in Tai Chi. Slow stretching alternating with full contraction of the muscles relieves unnecessary muscle tension and improves muscle tone. Strengthening the muscles of both the lower back and the abdomen is especially good for people with lower back pain. Tai Chi also has beneficial effects on the involuntary muscles of the digestive tract.
Tai Chi develops balance, co-ordination, and fine motor control. The reflex wiring in the spinal cord is used in the movement patterns and the reflexes are therefore improved. Practising Tai Chi initially requires focused attention and therefore improves concentration. When the set has been learned well it is done with relaxed awareness, and can have the same effect on the mind as meditation.
All these effects combine to make Tai Chi a means of reducing stress and preventing stress-related diseases. Learning Tai Chi is learning to relax.
Tai Chi takes place in the village hall on Wednesdays at 7.30 p.m.