05 Nov The Power of the Slow…is happiness in tai chi?
by Graham Osborne of the Sydney Morning Herald
Tai chi, the slow-motion meditation being practised in a park near you, can reduce stress, anxiety and depression, improve brain function and provide many other health benefits, according to scientific studies.
The ancient Chinese martial art of tai chi chuan has evolved into a series of mind-body exercises performed in a slow, focused and flowing manner designed to keep your body in constant motion and promote serenity.
Tai chi practice is said to support a healthy balance of yin and yang – opposing forces of shadow and light within the body – thereby aiding the flow of qi – a vital energy or life force.
According to a popular legend, a Taoist monk developed the first set of 13 tai chi exercises by imitating the movement of animals.
US medical research group the Mayo Clinic says the health benefits enjoyed by an estimated 2.5 million American tai chi practitioners include: decreased stress and anxiety; increased aerobic capacity; increased energy and stamina; increased flexibility, balance and agility; and increased muscle strength and definition.
There is evidence that tai chi can enhance sleep quality and the immune system; lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure; improve joint pain; improve symptoms of congestive heart failure; and improve general wellbeing in older adults as well as reduce their risk of falls, says the Minnesota-based not-for-profit Mayo.
Web-based Medical News Today lists dozens of scientific studies that show health benefits associated with tai chi include: helping patients with Parkinson's Disease; improving memory and brain function; relieving arthritic pain; and combating depression.
A new Sydney University study, published in the European Respiratory Journal, found that tai chi “significantly improved” exercise capacity, muscle strength, balance and quality of life for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Study leader Regina Leung, a physiotherapist and PhD candidate in the university's health sciences faculty, said patients also reported improved concentration and decreased stress…
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