The graceful movements of the Chinese art of T’ai Ji Quan disguise a powerful system of exercises and martial art that has long been recognised for it’s therapeutic qualities.
Practised for many centuries in China, T’ai Ji (also known as T’ai Chi Chuan or Tai Chi) incorporates a series of exercises and movements which promote good health, well being and fitness in people of all ages. Sometimes referred to as moving meditation, it combines physical movements with mental awareness bringing together the whole person.
Its slow and deliberate actions are designed to increase strength, stamina and suppleness in the body, while inducing a sense of mental well-being and calmness. The exercises and forms help to ‘sink the Qi’, and help one to feel grounded and rooted; mindfulness in motion.
The versatility is reflected in the fact that it offers benefits to everyone from older people looking to improve their suppleness, to office workers seeking to reduce stress levels. It can also help alleviate high blood pressure, arthritis, mental ailments and many other conditions.
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- Enhances strength and balance.
- Develops greater self-awareness.
- Improves posture and muscular structure.
- Teaches exercises that will offer lifelong benefits.
- Helps us to appreciate our relationships with others.
- Promotes the relationship between the mind and body.
- Exemplifies mindfulness in motion.
- Eases breathing problems through relaxation techniques.
- Loosens tight muscles and releasing tension in the body
One of the areas in which Chinese Health Arts can be of great use is with people who are being treated for or suffer from severe and enduring mental health problems.
For the past 25 years I have been using various exercises from the vast array of Chinese Health Arts to take groups through short therapeutic programmes. Over that time I have found exercises that are gentle yet lively, that encourage flexibility and strength and are fun, combined with the traditional focus of using exercises to sink the Qi, are the most beneficial.
We spend as much time as possible outside in all weathers enjoying the group activity, exploring exercise routines to open the body, relax and help release tensions and stress and give a sense of being grounded. On days we cannot go out, the work often covers physcial exercises, simple breathing exercises and self massage techniques .
It’s an area of work that is both interesting and rewarding. Individuals who have on-going mental health problems have said they benefit from the sessions, which leave them feeling more relaxed and settled, more self confident and a sense of being more complete.