Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese practice that uses gentle, coordinated body movements to cultivate a person’s internal energy. Tai chi, which originated in China as a martial art, is a mind-body practice in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).
Get our Meditation Made Easy Beginners Guide along with weekly articles and free resources delivered to your inbox. Want to join the the community of teachers and practitioners who write for About Meditation? Like yoga, tai chi is a type of moving meditation -- a gentle exercise that focuses on the breath and prioritizes ease of movement-- that comes with a host of health benefits.
Many of the tai chi moves tell stories and involve mimicking animals -- featuring names like "Embrace the tiger and return to mountain" and "White crane spreads its wings" -- all performed with relaxed muscles and ease of movement. The practice originated over 2,000 years ago in China as a martial art called T'ai chi ch'uan.
Studies have found that when used to supplement traditional forms of treatment, tai chi can help maintain bone density, reduce pain among arthritis patients, promote heart health, reduce hypertension, and improve quality of life and reduce stress for breast cancer patients, among other health benefits. In addition to relieving stress, tai chi is also scientifically proven to help fight depression among the elderly.
In tai chi, the focus of the mind is on the breath and the physical sensations in the body, which can help to still racing thoughts and increase body awareness. Tai chi may also help to boost well-being by improving both the length and quality of practitioner's sleep. Tai chi can help improve flexibility and promote a health range of motion in older adults, while also building muscle strength.
Tai chi could also be one of the most effective methods of promoting good balance and preventing falls in older adults, according to WebMD.
The term tai chi itself indicates the harmonious union of opposing forces -- and it's all about going with the flow and moving fluidly within your own physical limitations. In tai chi, "the objective is not to over-exert or strain one's natural state, but to achieve unity with one's essential nature, thereby releasing the body's intrinsic energies," writes Simmone Kuo in Long Life, Good Health Through Tai-Chi Chuan.
The practice can even be adapted for those in wheelchairs or recovering from surgery, according to Harvard Medical School experts, and it has been shown to improve balance and motor control among individuals with Parkinson's Disease.
The beginner-friendly cat pose is a great way to relieve tension in the spine, shoulders and neck, and to boost circulation in the upper body.
This latest Healthy Living Huffington Post provides a great video introduction to the meditation form. If you've been around meditation for a while you know that it's helpful with a lot of things. With Labor Day around the corner, school-aged children from all around the country are either back in school or quickly preparing for a return to the classroom.

I'm not sure why, but most people are reluctant to admit they would like to increase their overall happiness. If you pay attention to yourself and those around you, more often than not you will find that most of us suffer from a closed heart. The truth is that we live in a society that consciously or unconsciously promotes the belief that if people can change their outsides that their insides will follow suit. For those parents of school-aged children, all you have to do is think back to when you were in school to appreciate how anxiety ridden the whole schooling process can be. If you're anything like me, on a daily basis you come into contact with people and situations that, well cause you to become frustrated.
Although the word charka is foreign to most people, put simply, it represents an energy vortex found in the body that helps to regulate mental, physical, and spiritual health. The reasons for meditation are as diverse as those who practice this ancient healing technique. Are you the type of person that stops to smell the roses, or are you a person that charges down life's path attempting to see as many of them as possible? For those who don't know, one of the main purposes in getting a good night's sleep is to allow your brain the opportunity to go into an alpha wave state. When it comes to stress and anxiety, most know that unless addressed through practices like meditation, these two silent killers can ultimately lead to physical and emotional distress.
If you're like most people, your days are spent running around doing sometimes odd, sometimes purposeful things that hopefully amount to a life well-lived.
With regard to health and well being, truth be told, I haven't yet found anything closely resembling the magic pill.
I don't know about you, but when I was a kid you could go out and play and no one could find you until you were good and ready to come home.
Of all the meditation techniques practiced, one of the more challenging is Vipassana meditation. In the following video from Huffington Post, tai chi practitioner, Yuan Wang describes the health benefits of tai chi: You can feel the energy flow in the body. It is sometimes referred to as “moving meditation”—practitioners move their bodies slowly, gently, and with awareness, while breathing deeply. Take yoga, the ancient mind-body practice and contemporary fitness craze (and $27 billion industry), which continues its prominence in the mainstream -- even after decades of increasing popularity.
And, like yoga, there are distinct styles and lineages of tai chi along with more modern and hybrid incarnations. Through maintaining focus on the breath and physical movements, the practitioner is thought to be able to help to direct the flow of Qi, or life force, in the body.
It is said to have been created in the Wu Dong Mountains by a Taoist priest, who observed a white crane preying on a snake and then mimicked its actions.

Wayne, Harvard Medical School professor and director of the Tai Chi and Mind-Body Research Program, told Harvard Health Publications.
These meditative aspects of the practice help to bring the practitioner many of the same cognitive benefits of traditional seated meditation, including an increased sense of awareness, calm and well-being.
A 2008 UCLA study found that practicing tai chi chih, one particular variation of the practice, was effective in improving moderate sleep complaints among older adults. What's more, women at risk for or suffering from osteoporosis should take note that research has found tai chi to be effective in increasing mineral bone density. Research from the National Institute on Aging found that tai chi reduced fear of falls and risk of falling among older adults. Begin with your hands and knees on the floor in a tabletop position, and gently round the spine up as you exhale.
Also known as meditation in motion, Tai Chi meditation works to bring harmony to the mind and body, and in doing so, can relieve symptoms of stress and anxiety as well as a host of other physical, mental, and spiritual ailments.
The 12 minute Tai Chi exercise can be used daily to help reconnect your mind, body, and soul. For most, the practice involves grabbing a cushion, plopping oneself down with eyes closed, and turning one's focus within.
Emotional challenges, physical problems, and spiritual maladies are just some of the things that meditation can help provide both relief and insight into. Unfortunately, this view on how to cultivate peace and happiness is focused in the wrong direction. Some use it to relieve stress and anxiety, while others use the practice to tap into their creative center. The following is a general overview of tai chi and suggests sources for additional information.
Whether you want to relax, stimulate creativity, gain enlightenment, or cultivate compassion and mindfulness, we help you learn how to let go.
Many forms of meditation, likewise, have been touted for stress-relieving, health-promoting benefits by prominent leaders in business, media and the arts. Today, tai chi is known as a low-impact exercise popular with older adults and practiced by over 2 million Americans each year.
Even those who are in poor health can begin a tai chi practice and potentially improve their physical condition. Harvard University has even devoted a research program to studying the health benefits of the ancient Chinese art.

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