Anyone for Tai Chi

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Tai Chi is not one of those fancy teas you find on the menus of up-market coffee shops; it’s actually a very gentle form of physical and mental exercise that combines deep breathing and relaxation with flowing physical movements. Originally developed as a martial art in China in the 13th century, Tai Chi is now practised around the world as a health-promoting exercise that anyone can enjoy.

Tai Chi is characterised by its slow, graceful, continuous movements that are gentle on the joints and muscles. Done correctly, Tai Chi poses flow smoothly from one into another.

There are a few different styles of Tai Chi such as Yang, Chen and Wu but the basic principles are the same for all. The main difference between styles is often in the speed of movement and the way the body holds the postures.

Tai Chi has a number of health benefits for both mind and body. Studies have shown that Tai Chi can help to reduce stress, improve posture, balance and general mobility, and increase muscle strength in the legs. There is some evidence that Tai Chi can improve mobility in the ankles, hips and knees of people with rheumatoid arthritis while some research suggests Tai Chi can reduce the risk of falls among older adults.

The great thing about Tai Chi is that literally anyone can do it. It’s ideal for those who haven’t done a lot of exercise recently and are looking for a way to raise their activity levels gently and gradually. For more active individuals, it’s a great way to quiet the mind and get more in touch with your body. Many of the Tai Chi movements can be adapted for people with a disability, including wheelchair users.

The best way to learn Tai Chi is from an experienced instructor who will make sure your technique is correct, effective and won’t cause injury. If you are interested in trying Tai Chi you could ask to sit in on a class or attend a free taster session before signing up for a course. If you have a medical condition or any health concerns, or haven’t exercised for a long time, speak to your GP before trying Tai Chi.

You can search online for Tai Chi classes in your area or find one using the Tai Chi Union for Great Britain website.