Tai Chi Exercises for Reducing Stress and Improving Sleep
Tai chi is believed to be at least 1,500 years old and possibly much older. There is also some debate as to its creator, although many people credit a Taoist monk named Zhang San Feng. What is not debatable is the effect that this Chinese martial art can have on those who practice it.
What Is Tai Chi?
Tai chi is a martial art that consists of slow, focused movements. Attention is drawn to the movements' precision and execution. Deep, controlled breathing is also an integral part of this exercise. Maintaining focus on these two things, movement and breathing, helps clear one's mind of outside stresses to achieve a meditative state of mind. Some refer to it as meditation in motion for this reason.
Benefits of Tai Chi
Tai chi has been linked to many health benefits. It is used to promote overall good health and recovery from injuries, and it has also been used to help seniors improve their balance and strength so they can better avoid dangerous falls.
The slow pace of tai chi forces the practitioner to take a break from the metaphorical "rat race" and focus only on the prescribed movements and their breathing. This can help to release pent-up stress and tension and relax the mind. The controlled nature of the movements also counteracts the "out of control" feelings that can come from a stressful day. While stress is unpleasant, it can also be bad for your health. Stress has been linked to a large number of illnesses, including depression, anxiety, insomnia, and even physical ailments such as hyperglycemia (high blood sugar).
The world can be a competitive place, but tai chi is a noncompetitive activity that one can participate in either alone or in a group. This means that practitioners focus solely on what they are doing, without worrying about what others are doing. Focusing only on the self induces relaxation and naturally elevates mood. Evidence has been accumulating that shows that tai chi can also help people to regulate their emotions. Some research has even found that tai chi is effective as a tool to help manage depression and anxiety.
Tai chi has also been shown to help improve sleep in those who practice it. The ability to get a full and restful night's sleep is crucial to maintaining a positive mental outlook, and it's also key to good overall health. A chronic lack of sleep has been linked to the development of a variety of chronic illnesses, including obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Inadequate sleep can also cause an increase in psychological stress. But it's well-documented that even low-impact physical activity has a positive effect on sleep quality. Research on tai chi specifically has found significant improvements in sleep quality in healthy adults as well as those suffering from chronic diseases. Tai chi may even be used as an alternative to or alongside behavioral therapy in the treatment of insomnia.
Additional Readings on Tai Chi
- The Health Benefits of Tai Chi: Tai chi can be good for your health, and it's fairly simple to get started practicing this martial art.
- Tai Chi: What You Need to Know: Learn about tai chi and its benefits from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.
- Tai Chi Movements: A short video from the Mayo Clinic illustrates some of the movements involved in a tai chi workout session.
- What Is Tai Chi? Tai chi has many variants, with the most commonly practiced one being Yang-style tai chi.
- Tai Chi Basics: The name "tai chi" comes from "tai chi chuan," which can be translated as "supreme ultimate boxing."
- Tai Chi Theory: Traditional tai chi practice was believe to stimulate the flow of the body's vital energy.
- The Benefits of Learning Tai Chi: Tai chi is a low-impact form of exercise that can be great for your health.
- Tai Chi and its Benefits: Practicing tai chi can help to clear your mind and exercise your body.
- Ten Ways Tai Chi Can Improve Your Well-Being: Doing tai chi can help to build strength, balance, and flexibility.
- Benefits of Tai Chi for Children: Tai chi can help kids with their balance and agility as well as their emotional regulation.
- Tai Chi for Kids: The noncompetitive nature of tai chi can make it a good option for children.
- 15 Benefits of Tai Chi for Children: Anyone can enjoy doing tai chi, including kids.
- Five Benefits Tai Chi Has for Your Heart: Tai chi is a low-impact type of exercise that's good for people with heart conditions.
- Five Potential Health Benefits of Tai Chi: Practicing tai chi can improve your blood pressure and boost cognitive function.
- Yoga and Tai Chi for Kids: Yoga and tai chi are similar in that they're both meditative and noncompetitive forms of exercise.
- Tai Chi and its Benefits: After practicing tai chi regularly, you may start to feel more flexible.
- Ten Science-Backed Benefits of Tai Chi: Practicing tai chi has been shown to improve cardiovascular health and may even help people lose weight.