Health Awareness and Disease Prevention
A recent study supported by the NIH (Nation Institute of Health) reported Tai Chi boosts immunity to the shingles virus in older adults. Tai Chi is a health rejuvenating exercise commonly referred to as meditation in motion. Tai Chi, more appropriately written as Tai Ji Quan and pronounced ‘Tai Jee Chuen’, coordinates mental focus, special breathing techniques and body movement to encourage health and well-being. Tai Chi Ch’uan translates as Grand Ultimate Fist – a reference to it’s Chinese martial arts origins. In modern times many people throughout the world now practice the slow moving, gentle and mindful style of Tai Chi as a stimulating and health benefiting form of exercise.
This randomized, controlled clinical study reported in April 2007 included 112 healthy adults averaging 70 years in age. Each person took part in a 16-week program of either Tai Chi or an educational program on health. Periodic blood tests were done throughout the study. The Tai Chi group’s rate of increase in immunity over the course of the 25-week study was reported to be twice that of the health education group. In addition, the Tai Chi group reported – “significant improvements in physical functioning, bodily pain, vitality, mental health” as well as a decline in depression. The conclusion of this study builds upon another study with similar success done in Sept. 2003 by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM).
A key health promoting aspect in the practice of Tai Chi is a strong emphasis on the mind and mental focus. Dwelling on the past or the future distracts the mind from being rooted in reality and the present moment. The mind and the body functions as one. What affects the mind can manifest physically and visa versa. You are what you think. Emotional imbalances can manifest into physical change typically observed in the eyes, facial expressions and body posture. Chronic imbalances can lead to deeper health issues. Chronic stress can release hormones into the body that tend to exhaust body function over time. The body’s natural ability to restore itself becomes diminished if it’s not allowed to recover through proper rest and relaxation. Tai Chi, although invigorating and energetic is also meditative and relaxing. In addition, the slow, gentle movements of Tai Chi develop mental concentration as attention is directed towards physical posture, body movement, deep breathing and balance. As the mind becomes increasingly centered, emotions level out, breathing deepens and a wonderful sense of relaxation is experienced. Good health is about promoting good circulation on all levels including mind, body, and spirit. Tai Chi encourages good health by harmoniously integrating mental, emotional, spiritual and physical aspects of our well-being.
Christopher Carlow, D. Ac.Doctor of Acupuncture December 24, 2007
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