Tai chi (shortened from tàijíquán, meaning roughly “supreme ultimate fist”) is a gentle Chinese exercise, like chi gong, which uses controlled movements and steady breathing as a form of meditation that promotes health and wellness.
Similar to other practices of Traditional Chinese Medicine, tai chi is used to ensure the proper flow of energy (“chi” or “qi”) within the body. As imbalances in chi can cause illness or pain, daily practice of tai chi helps to sustain good health. Through mimicking the movements of plants and animals, tai chi also links the individual with nature.
Typically practiced in groups, tai chi classes usually last an hour. The practitioner guides the class through specific movements, while the client concentrates on the area below his/her navel, from which chi flows. For optimal therapeutic effect, the client should individually practice tai chi two times per day between weekly group classes.
In addition to helping maintain cardiopulmonary fitness, flexibility, and balance, tai chi has been used to treat chronic pain, heart disease, headaches, sleep disorders, and numerous other medical conditions.