Weight Loss Benefits of Tai Chi
Have you seen a slow and graceful martial arts like dance practicing in a park or in your local China town? If yes, then you probably seen a common Tai Chi movements that is known to help improve various health conditions. Unlike martial arts that imposes intense kicking, grappling, punching and many other body contacts, tai chi is done through slow, rhythmic and meditative body movements aimed to achieve relaxation, calmness and physical wellness.
This practice is now considered as an alternative exercise that is said to prevent or reduce the risks of many illnesses. It’s an enjoyable workout which forces your whole body in motion which can relieve stress and will greatly aid any of your weight loss issues. Some says it can also slow the process of aging and is the perfect and ideal workout for family activities.
Because of this, Tai Chi is described as “meditation in motion” as it applies meditation techniques while your body is in active motion, coordinating with the other parts of your body to achieve wellness. This form of exercise was originated in Qigong, China that was initially a diversion of the countries different martial arts disciplines, as well as in connection of China’s diverse knowledge with regards to herbal medicine. Because of its proven health benefits, tai chi became an international part of fitness programs which includes yoga of India and other known mind and body connection exercises.
Let’s take a deeper look into this one of a kind martial art workout and how it can provide health and fitness benefits which can help you achieve tip top body shape.
Tai Chi Philosophies, Styles and Principles
According to records, Tai Chi dates back as far as 2,500 years, originally as part of martial arts and Chinese medicine. It’s main principles is to achieve self-defense, inner peace and calmness through meditative movements. According to some reports and practitioners, Tai Chi experts can effectively defend themselves thru this discipline which shows that it’s a combination of martial art skills and conventional treatment.
Tai Chi Philosophies
Tai chi have different concepts or beliefs that involves Qi (pronounced as chee), Qigong, Yin and Yang. Qi is an energy force that flows throughout the body organs which is considered to consist of five elements – water, metal, fire, wood and earth. The Qi is defined as the life force behind the said process which travels along the pathways inside the body called meridians. Through this process, wellness is achieved once the interaction starts between these five elements, causing your Qi to flow in a normal and balanced manner.
Qigong is another tai chi belief that includes two types – soft and hard Qigong. It involves the mind, breath and other movements to produce inner peace and natural balance of energy. This energy is responsible for giving us the abilities to create things and do self defense. There are more than 3,000 diversions of Qigong which is based on five cultures or traditions – Buddhist, Taoist, Confucian, martial arts and medical.
Yin and Yang are both entirely opposite philosophies. These two elements are said to compose the universe that needs to be kept in balance. Tai chi promotes this balance more often in various sessions.
Styles of Tai Chi
There are three most popular and commonly practiced tai chi styles – the Yang, Wu and Chih. Yang basically includes 24 types of movements in its simplest form. Why Yang is a demanding tai chi style? Because it involves a wide stance and your knees are often bent most of the time, which makes it more challenging and a good workout.
The Wu style meanwhile has up to 36 movements and is much simpler than Yang due to its higher and narrow stance where the knees are not that totally bent compared to Yang. Lastly, the tai chi Chih style has 20 movements that uses a higher stance but using much lesser transfer of weight in between legs. The Wu style uses narrow and high stance which makes the practitioner to do a much easier balance, compared to both Yang and Chih styles.
As you can see from tai chi’s philosophies, different styles have their own variations of tai chi principles as well as its methods. These styles can either focus on physical wellness and some other styles are for the benefits of martial arts.
Today, tai chi is practiced as a self-paced, gentle workout that lets you perform a series of stretching, posture and movements in a slow and graceful manner. Understanding the principles of tai chi can benefit your over all health especially your weight loss program.
Health and Weight loss Benefits of Tai Chi
Many believed that the best benefit of tai chi is its ability to prolong life and slow the aging process. But what are the other known health benefits of tai chi especially with regards to weight loss? Although there are no scientific evidence that can support these health benefits claims, many studies supports the positive effects of this ancient form of exercise.
Similar to any other workout regimen, tai chi has been proven effective to reduce your risk of high blood pressure, arthritis, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, digestive disorders, skin problems, depression, stress, cancer, obesity and many other illnesses. With light and slow movements, it increases your flexibility, endurance, strengthens your muscles and tendons and promotes mental power.
One particular benefit of this workout is that, it can highly improve your body’s balance while preventing you from the risks of falling. Balance is an important aspect of our body which could save us from serious injuries. Unwanted fall can injure your hip, spine, head and other parts of your skeletal system which is a serious case and may also lead to death.
Tai chi helps improve our body’s balance through its movement routines which are slow and deliberately aimed to focus on body weights in between legs in coordination with the upper body motions, thus improving balance and preventing fall injuries. Interestingly, a research shows that tai chi can also help reduce the fear of falling of the elderly people who practice this workout by as much as 50%, keeping them confident as they walk.
Body balance is another health aspect that overweight and obese people wanted to overcome. As you know, too much weight hinders these people to do any physical activities such as running or even just a simple walk due to the fear of falling and other injuries. So if you are obese, you need to try tai chi to improve your balance, prevent injuries and boost your self-confidence.
Tai chi can also improve your muscles, strength, endurance, flexibility and posture. A month-long tai chi exercise can highly tone your muscles and makes you much stronger, especially for adults. If you have weight issues, constant tai chi sessions can burn a lot of fats that’s not only make you slimmer, but also improve your breathing, flexibility and endurance.
Other benefits includes the following:
- It effectively relieves stress
- It can be your alternative workout program
- It lowers your risks of injuries
- You can do it anywhere with little space
- Relieves joint pains
- Perfect for family activity
- It’s not difficult to apply, noncompetitive
- It prevents bone diseases such as fibromyalgia
- It boosts your self-confidence
- Strengthens the immune system
- Effectively burn up to 500 calories per 1 hour session
How to get started with Tai Chi
Tai chi is similar to other workout program and is one of the safest workout you could practice anywhere. It is ideal for anyone especially for the elderly because it primarily promotes technique over strength. However, there are a few reminders before you do this workout. People suffering from arthritis, orthopedic conditions, pregnancy, hernia and other medical conditions are prohibited to do tai chi. You will need a medical approval from your physician if you really want to try this exercise. So tai chi is much more ideal for people who don’t have any chronic illnesses yet or those who don’t have functional body limitations.
Unlike any other workout programs or sports, tai chi requires no equipments nor a dress code. Yes, you don’t need those martial arts kimonos if you want to practice tai chi. You just need to wear any comfortable loose clothing that you have plus a tai chi shoes (any shoes that won’t slip is okay). If you don’t have shoes, then you can initially start bare foot. Tai chi shoes are essential to provide support once you do balancing movements.
Having a tai chi instructor is the best way to experience this workout. He can teach you various positions as well as breathing techniques for safer workout. Don’t be afraid in communicating with a tai chi master (most of them are Chinese) because they are all friendly and approachable. So before you buy any tai chi DVD’s, try contacting your local tai chi clinic near you. Most tai chi sessions are done in fitness facilities, health club or senior centers.
Once you are comfortable with your tai chi lessons, you can practically continue your workout at home even for just half an hour. The more you workout, the more you lose weight. Also, tell your tai chi instructor your main purpose of practicing this exercise. If you plan to lose weight, then your instructor will conduct a more thorough fat burning tai chi sessions for your added benefits.
Lastly, you need to monitor your progress to learn if you are improving physically and emotionally. Since there is no exact time frame with regards to tai chi’s effectiveness, it will be your own discretion on how much intensity you can do practicing tai chi. An average dose of tai chi for common practitioners are two to three times per week. Of course this depends on your physical goals. If you want to lose weight, then make it four to five times per week.
How to maintain the benefits of Tai Chi?
Most fitness enthusiasts lose focus even before they start working out. So how can you maintain your urge to exercise especially if your workout program is tai chi? Consistency is the most important aspect of tai chi to maintain its health benefits, actually all exercise regimens are all depends on consistency.
Well, first is to know your goals that will keep you motivated for life. Weight loss is one of the many benefits of tai chi, if this is your main reason why you are doing tai chi, then you better set some plans to improve and apply this workout in a regular basis. You may read my July weight loss tips to help you more with your weight issues.
Also, practicing tai chi in conjunction with your other fitness programs will definitely help maintain its benefits. You can do it with your regular sports activities, diet programs and many other routines. Aside from weight loss, all the said benefits from the start of this article will be maintained for life.
You will ensure to enjoy these benefits for much longer period of time if you continue to practice tai chi and together with your other weight loss program. You will notice that in time, you will become more versatile, balanced and much more skilled individual through the help of this unique workout.
Keep a realistic workout routine and make sure that you exercise regularly. Aside from tai chi, you can read more information about other workout opportunities in this blog. In summary, tai chi is just another workout regimen that can effectively burn fats and offer other health benefits as well. I encourage you to keep a strict diet and workout plan to enjoy a fitter and healthier body, for life!