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What is Tai Chi?

Tai chi, also called tai chi ch'uan or taijiquan, is sometimes described as "meditation in motion" because it promotes serenity through gentle movements — connecting the mind and body. Originally developed in ancient China for self defense, tai chi evolved into a graceful form of exercise that is now used for stress reduction and to help with a variety of other health conditions.

Tai chi is a noncompetitive, self-paced system of gentle physical exercise and stretching. To do tai chi, the student performs a series of postures or movements in a slow, graceful manner. Each posture flows into the next without pause, ensuring that the body is in constant motion.

Tai chi has many different styles, such as Yang and Wu. Each style may have its own subtle emphasis on various tai chi principles and methods. All forms of tai chi include rhythmic patterns of movement designed to help the student achieve a sense of inner calm. The concentration required for tai chi stimulates the student's higher mental functions and helps them focus on the present moment with a serene mind.

Wondering how to get started in tai chi? Even though you can rent or buy videos or books about tai chi, consider seeking guidance from a qualified tai chi instructor to gain the full benefits and learn proper techniques. A tai chi instructor may also be able to teach you about the philosophy underlying this relaxation technique.

A tai chi instructor gives feedback and corrections which help the student avoid practicing incorrect form and developing bad habits. An instructor teaches the student how to practice safely, especially if they have injuries, chronic conditions, and balance or coordination problems.

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Private instruction in Tai Chi is one of the many beneficial services offered by Sellwood Healing. Contact us by email: or by phone: (503) 351-3624.

Benefits of Tai Chi

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Tai chi can offer numerous benefits beyond stress reduction, including:

  • Improving balance, flexibility and muscle strength
  • Reducing falls in older adults
  • Improving sleep quality
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Improving cardiovascular fitness in older adult
  • Relieving chronic pain
  • Increasing energy, endurance and agility
  • Improving overall feelings of well-being

Like other complementary and alternative practices that bring mind and body together, tai chi can help reduce stress. During tai chi, the student focuses on movement and breathing. This combination creates a state of relaxation and calm. Stress, anxiety and tension should melt away as they focus on the present, and the effects may last well after the tai chi session. Tai chi also might help with overall health, although it is not a substitute for traditional medical care. The student should always check with their pysician before starting any exercise program.

To reap the greatest stress reduction and other health benefits from tai chi, the student should consider practicing regularly. While they may get some benefit from a short term tai chi class, continuing to practice for the long term can bring more skill and more profound health benefits.