Lately, almost everyone is talking about immunity and finding ways to boost it. While a healthy diet, positive outlook and nutritional supplements go a long way in aiding our body’s defense system, we tell you about an underrated yet vital way to increase it. We’re talking about tai chi, an age-old form of exercise that helps you become healthy from within. If you’re wondering ‘what is tai chi’ precisely, just keep reading.
What Is Tai Chi?
Tai Chi is more than just a traditional Chinese form of exercise. It has a number of principles that help people understand their bodies and mind better. The principles include mind and body integration, control of movements, command on breathing, generating internal energy, mindfulness, loosening, and serenity. It is due to these principles that tai chi gains the title – ‘Meditation In Motion’. This alone does not explain what is tai chi.
The goal of tai chi is to help life energy, or the qi, flow through the body smoothly and powerfully. With the integration of mind and body comes the total harmony of the inner and outer self .
Tai Chi involves low-impact, slow series of motions that one must do without pausing. The motions are designed in such a way that they allow you to breathe deeply and naturally, focusing all your attention on your bodily sensations, just like meditation. What makes tai chi different from all the other forms of exercises or martial arts is that the movements are never forced, and apart from that, the muscles are relaxed, the joints are not fully extended or bent, and there is no extreme stretching . This is why classes of tai chi for beginners are so popular, especially among senior citizens.
Benefits Of Tai Chi
Tai Chi has a number of health benefits. It increases both lower and upper body strength when dedicatedly and regularly practiced. It also improves flexibility and increases muscle strength. It works wonders when it comes to balance. Proprioception – the ability of sensing one’s own body position in space, reduces with age, tai chi helps improve this sense of balance by training the muscles to do so . These health benefits of tai chi explain the popularity of the practice in retirement centers across the world.
Tai chi exercise benefits extend far beyond physical wellbeing as it has deep values, strong principles, and spirituality that helps people understand life a little better . Hence, people also follow it as a way of life, besides just practicing for health benefits.
Tai Chi For Immunity
To prove this claim there have been many studies and researches around the globe. One such study involved 112 healthy older adults between the age of 59 to 86 years, proved that tai chi, indeed, boosts immunity, especially in the elderly. In this research, all the participants were asked to take part in a 16-week program of either tai chi or a simple health education session. After the participants decided what they wanted to do, blood samples of each of the participants were taken for comparison at the end of the program.
After the 16-week session, all the 112 people from both the programs were given a VARIVAX injection – a vaccine used to cure chickenpox. Since all the participants had had chickenpox earlier in their lives, they were immune to the disease, making the research safe. Nine weeks later, the researchers did blood tests to access each participant’s level of VZV immunity and compared it to the immunity that they had at the beginning of the session. Tai Chi was found to increase the participants’ immunity to over 40% in just 16 weeks .
This was just one of the many studies that have been conducted to show the benefits of tai chi and promote it. It is now a proven fact that tai chi does boost immunity and is extremely beneficial for older adults. However, the specialty of this form is that it can be practiced by anyone and reap the benefits.
Basic Tai Chi Moves For Beginners
- Put your feet together and relax your hands.
- Breath in while bending your knees and sinking down. Place your left hand flat on the right while it is balled up in a fist.
- Continuing inhaling, cover your right fist with your left hand and lift up.
- Come back to the straight-legged stance.
- Exhale and repeat.
- Start moving in a T-stance.
- Lift one hand up, palm facing front.
- The other hand is in front of your body, palm facing downward.
- As you bring one foot forward, twist your body at the waist and push your raised hand forward, while putting the other hand down.
- To finish, circle your arms back to the starting position.
- Exhale on the push and inhale on the circle back.
- Bring both the hands together. One on top of the other with some space in between, palms facing each other, as if you’re carrying something.
- Shift your weight to the side of the top hand. So, if your left hand is on top, shift your weight to your left foot.
- Bring the opposite leg in front and as you shift your weight to the front leg, move the bottom hand forward as if you’re throwing something.
- Bring the other hand down to “rest on a large dog’s head.”