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Tai Chi is a unique martial art from China that dates back 400
So Tai Chi is the balance and interaction between the Chinese
General Health - Sláinte Magazine
years, with influences from traditional Chinese medicine that date
principles of Yin (passive and negative) and Yang (active and
back thousands of years.
positive), slow and fast, hard and soft, stretching and contracting, gathering energy and releasing energy.
Tai Chi, known in China as “Taijiquan”, trains the physical body and
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT…
Around 200 million people around the world already practice this ancient Chinese martial art, and now it is fast becoming one of the most popular forms of exercise in Europe, too. Tai Chi master Niall O Floinn explains the many health benefits.
develops calmness, concentration and internal energy. Tai Chi
How does it work?
comprises martial art movements that are closely co-ordinated
There are several stages of development. The first is getting rid of
with deep breathing, with your mind leading and guiding your
stiffness in the body by opening the joints and releasing muscular
internal energy to harmonise with these movements.
tension. Then comes co-ordinating the body to move in a way that uses connected, spiral-like, whole-body movement from the core
The theory of how “qi” (pronounced “chee”) flows through the
out to the extremities.
body will be familiar to anyone who has ever heard of acupuncture. Tai Chi uses movement and meditation to build the
The third stage is calming the mind and focusing internally to
“qi” and circulate it around the body. At first, training focuses on
micro-adjust the posture and movements to help the body move in
softness and relaxation, which yields many health benefits and
a highly efficient and balanced way with smooth energy flow.
greatly reduces stress. As you progresses further, more fast and dynamic movements are added, which then help increase fitness,
Finally, when the body has undergone a lot of training, you can
stamina and endurance.
learn how to use Tai Chi for self-defence, because every movement also has a martial application.
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How does it benefit health? Chen style Tai Chi, which is fast becoming the most popular
By a process of relaxing muscular tensions, improving
form of Tai Chi in the world, regulates all systems within the
posture, and a deepening of the breathing process, Tai Chi
body, improving digestion, respiration and circulation.
has positive effects on stress levels. So it helps reduce depression, anxiety, and mood disturbance in regular
In addition, the low-impact nature of the routines improves
the condition of bones, joints and muscles without strain, while encouraging balance, focus, flexibility and coordination.
And Tai Chi consists of constant, co-ordinated movement of the head, trunk and limbs, requiring
Tai Chi is recognised by the Chinese Government and many
tremendous concentration and balance control, so
Health Institutes around the world as a form of exercise
it’s also the number-one exercise for fall
that offers one of the greatest all-round benefits to
prevention among the elderly.
health. But Western Medicine is just starting to test the health benefits of Tai Chi, and some of the results have been remarkable. The most famous published medical studies have stated Tai Chi reduces stress and is extremely beneficial for people with heart conditions, arthritis, osteoporosis, depression, hypertension and anxiety.
Am I too old for Tai Chi? Tai Chi can be practised at any age. For the very young, it
Tai Chi is not only beneficial for various medical conditions,
helps with hyperactivity, posture, patience and cognitive
but also a way of getting fit and burning up some calories. If
functions like memory and attention. Kids especially love
you do the postures correctly with wider and lower stances,
learning the sword after they have finished three years of
you will generate internal heat and burn calories! The whole
body gets toned and deeper muscles are strengthened, which support your spine.
So for anyone thinking of taking it up at an older age, don’t worry, there is no age limit. To start with, everything is done
Finally, people who start Tai Chi find that their mood becomes
slowly to help the body relax and give you time to co-ordinate
uplifted after training and that, over time, many positive
lifestyle changes follow.
It is a non-impact sport that helps people recover from injuries or illness. Fitness is very gently and gradually built up
Niall O Floinn is director of Ireland’s largest Tai Chi
and you can practice to whatever level of intensity you
school, the Galway Tai Chi Academy. Contact him on
choose, according to your physical health, strength and age.
085 154 7157 or visit www.chentaichiireland.com for
What’s more, all ages train together, which is fun.
What you need know about Tai Chi