T'ai Chi for Health and Relaxation
T'ai Chi Ch'uan is literally translated as "supreme ultimate boxing". The "supreme ultimate" part refers to the Chinese concept of the origin of the universe. Out of the infinite potential of the void arises the dual principles of yin and yang. Yang being the male, warm, forceful, light principle, and Yin being the female, cool, yielding, dark principle. Neither one of these principles is superior to the other, and both are necessary because each contains some of the other. They are two sides of the same coin. The yin-yang symbol is also a symbol of T'ai Chi. T'ai Chi Ch'uan is a harmonious dance of yin and yang sometimes referred to as “meditation in motion”.
T’ai Chi was originally practiced as a martial art emphasizing strength and speed. Through time it has evolved into a gentle form of exercise that can be practiced by people of all ages. It consists of a sequence of movements that are performed slowly, softly and gracefully with smooth, even transitions.
In Chinese philosophy and traditional medicine there exists the concept of'chi' (chee), a vital force that animates the body. The Japanese word for this is 'ki' (key) and in Yoga this energy is called ‘Prana’. T’ai Chi practice encourages the circulation of chi within the body, improving health and vitality. Chi moves through the body in patterns that are closely related to the nervous and vascular systems.
T’ai Chi practice promotes a tranquil and focused mind. Breathing is coordinated with movement and the meditative nature of the exercises is calming and relaxing. Correct practice can lead to improved balance, strength, coordination, flexibility and fluidity of movement. Many practitioners notice improvement in posture and alignment.