When you hear mind-body connection, you usually think Yoga, but there’s another modality that relies just as much on this connection : Thai Chi. An ancient Chinese practice that started out as a martial arts, slowly transformed into a practice aimed at enhancing physical and mental health. Built on low-impact, weight-bearing, and aerobic moves, practiced in a variety of styles, the slow movements and deep breathing lend the practice a sort of “moving meditation”. Some claim it improves the flow of energy in the body, increasing awareness, calmness and sense of overall well being.
The five essential qualities of Thai Chi
- Slowness. To develop awareness.
- Lightness. To make movements flow.
- Balance. To prevent body strain.
- Calmness. To maintain continuity.
- Clarity. To focus the mind.
Some of the main benefits of Thai Chi include:
- Improved strength and balance. According to a study, just after 6 months of practice, the participants had less trouble completing strength and balance exercises, as well a reduced risk of falling, as opposed to those who didn’t practice. It’s great for the elderly who are more susceptible to falling, or people with impaired depth perception.
- Reduced stiffness and joint pain. It’s especially great for people with osteoarthritis or those suffering from fibromyalgia
- Improved sleep. The relaxing and focused nature of the practice leads to more balance and better sleep patterns.
- In some cases Thai Chi even prompted an immune response that helped fend off shingles.
There are many reasons to give it a try. Why Try Thai Chi?
- -It’s low impact, so it’s suitable for people with certain injuries, recovering, muscle imbalances with the risk of getting injured being very low.
- It can be done anywhere, anytime as it requires no equipment, special attire or a lot of room.
- You do it at your own pace
- It can be done alone or in groups, and the variety of movements keep it interesting.
I remember trying it a few years back and enjoying it, then forget about it until recently. My Yoga instructor incorporates a 10 minute Thai Chi flow at the end of each class, allowing me to rediscover its beauty all over again. There’s something so calming and beautiful about the flow, the symbolism behind the poses, and the breath that really connects the movement with the mind. If you get a chance, I highly recommend trying it. The benefits of Thai Chi are endless.
Here is your 24 basic movements in Thai Chi
ACSM Certified Personal Trainer
Certified Jillian Michaels BodyShred instructor
NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist
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