Tuning in to Tai Chi?
I've heard stories about how regular study and practice of tai chi or qi gong can miraculously cure/heal all sorts of health problems. What do you know about this?
The term "tai chi" refers to a perfect balance between the yin and the yang, the two forces of the universe. Tai chi ch'uan is the softest of the martial arts, and, according to legend, was developed by observing a snake's slow, evasive, and watchful movements in a battle with a crane. The martial-arts master who saw the exchange realized the power of yielding to force and using it, rather than fighting it.
A practitioner of tai chi perfects a series of motions that flow into one another very smoothly and gracefully, while the body is held straight and upright. The movements are gentle, continuous, and circular, exercising every part of the body equally. This practice is also called Chinese shadow boxing, because one is fighting with one's own shadow, the ego, to achieve self-refinement. You can build very strong legs with tai chi, and learn how to relax even while keeping a strong posture and making demanding movements.
Tai chi is one of many forms of qi gong. The aim of qi gong is to cultivate and increase the circulation of qi or chi, which is the essential energy of life. Qi gong concentrates life energy in the body and moves it throughout. The free circulation of chi is thought to improve health by allowing the blood to circulate freely and creating balance in the body's systems. It enhances spirit, endurance, and strength. Some qi gong masters heal sick people by channeling chi into them.
Tens of millions of Chinese do tai chi every morning on sidewalks and in parks, while waiting for buses. I don't know about miraculous cures from this practice, but I think it is great for overall health. It's an excellent relaxation technique, and a way to harmonize the musculoskeletal and nervous systems. It develops concentration, better balance, and coordination. Clinical studies show that it can reduce the risk of falls in the elderly. And if you buy into the Chinese philosophy that illness results from blocked energy flow, then tai chi would be a way to improve the functioning of every system of the body.