The almost endless list of health benefits from meditation are becoming more and more crystallized into scientific fact as study after study is showing how every aspect of being a human is improved and benefited by spending even just 15-20 minutes per day meditating. These health benefits include the immune system, stress and anxiety levels, memory and alertness, happiness and satisfaction, pain levels, creativity, and numerous other benefits. Science also reveals that when meditation is taken a step further in the physical biological body through motion, it can not only offer these potent benefits, but can also really catalyze healing and health in the physical body itself.
Tai Chi is branch of the ancient Chinese Qi Gong practice. Chi refers to the life force energy itself and through series of gentle movements paired with mindfulness, Tai Chi regulates the flow of chi in the individual and helps to balance the Yin and Yang principles within a person.
In clinical research, Tai Chi has been shown to lead to improvements in the quality of life for those suffering from breast cancer and Parkinson’s. It is also showing promise for reducing high blood pressure. One study done recently revealed that tai chi improved balance, flexibility, cardiovascular health, and also strength.
The study was conducted by monitoring a group of participants who practiced tai chi and those who did improved over 30 percent in lower body strength and 25 percent in arm strength- this was almost as much as the strength improvements in the weight-lifting group; pretty impressive for movements that seem so gentle and serene.
According to U.S. News & World Report:
“… [I]n 85 percent of trials, tai chi lowered blood pressure. Other studies have shown it to reduce blood levels of B-type natriuretic peptide, a precursor of heart failure, and to maintain bone density in postmenopausal women.”
Similarly, mindfulness meditation has captured the interest of many researchers in recent years, bringing new information and scientific validation to an art that has been valued for ages. Studies clearly show a reduction in the experience of pain in subjects practicing mindfulness meditation. This type of meditation is shown to alter the physiological state, reducing awareness of pain and increasing awareness in other areas such as alertness and problem solving.
Dr. Mercola says, “If you’re looking for a gentle, mind-body activity to add to your fitness routine, tai chi is a phenomenal choice. A form of Chinese martial arts, tai chi is an ancient form of self-defense that is said to support the balance of “yin and yang” in your body, thereby improving the flow of “qi,” or life energy.
Often described as “meditation in motion” or “moving meditation,” the activity takes your body through a specific set of graceful movements. Your body is constantly in motion and each movement flows right into the next.
While practicing tai chi, your mind is meant to stay focused on your movements, relaxation and deep breathing, while distracting thoughts are ignored. More than 2 million Americans have already taken up this ancient art form, and you might want to join them once you learn about all of its benefits.”
One of the most appealing benefits of Tai Chi is in its gentleness and accessibility for practitioners across all age and social groups. Tai Chi is equally appropriate for children, elders, and everyone in between. Tai Chi can even be adapted for persons in a wheelchair. The ancient practice improves balance, stamina, coordination, flexibility, and as mentioned previously, strength and cardiovascular health.
· Here are a few of the known benefits of tai chi from mercola.com,
· Improvements in physical condition, muscle strength, coordination, and flexibility
· Better balance and mobility
· Lower risk of falls, particularly in the elderly
· Improvements in pain and stiffness, including arthritis pain
· Improved sleep and overall wellness
· Enhanced immune system
Another study showed that patients suffering with fibromyalgia who practiced tai chi for a 12 week period showed significantly better reading for their pain, sleeplessness, fatigue, physical functioning, and stress. Tai chi is looked upon with so much confidence by the medical community that it is even recommended by Harvard Medical School and the Mayo Clinic
We know that mindfulness meditation as well as other forms of what could be called classical meditation are powerful practices that can cultivate peace, health, and overall well-being in the lives of those who practice them. Likewise, practitioners of tai chi will benefit their minds, bodies, and naturally their spirits as well.