The benefits of Tai Chi by Liliana Atz

Calm movements, harmonized with the breath, soft, fluid, now all of a sudden energetic and then soft again.

For many centuries Tai Chi Chuan remained secret and taught exclusively within a few families, to a few privileged pupils, but in the late nineteenth century and the early part of the twentieth century it became widespread throughout China, especially as a method of health gymnastics.

It was a huge success, and millions of Chinese today regularly practice this form of exercise, which is considered one of the best means of staying healthy and becoming long-lived.

Tai Chi is a gradual body-mind development art through which you can improve your physical and mental energy and increase your well-being. Through the pursuit of harmony of opposites, balance between positive and negative forces (Yin/Yang) and contact with the energy underlying the universe, Chi, the practitioner develops and increases his or her internal energy.

It is not known exactly when and by whom it was invented. Legend has it that, around 1200, the monk Chang San Feng, observing a fight between a snake and a crane noticed how the slow, supple movements of the snake were able to dodge the dry, precise blows of the crane’s beak. Chang concluded that the reptile prevailed because it was looser and more focused than its opponent. On these principles he developed the new discipline. Indeed, the authentic spirit of Tai Chi is precisely the union of body and mind: the gentle movements of the body are guided by concentration on the inner energy (Chi).

From this point of view, Tai Chi is complementary to another discipline, now also well known in our country, Chi Kung, which means “ability to conduct and circulate internal energy (Chi).”

Its structure is such that those who observe Tai Chi practice can only pick up on its surface form, failing to grasp the deep aspects of working on the body, breath and mind. These stages are not separable because they are reflected in each other: the body relaxes, breathing slows its pace and becomes deeper, and the mind empties itself of thoughts, anxieties, and worries. This state becomes a moving meditation, and some have called this practice “Chinese yoga.”

The name Tai Chi Chuan, or “extreme/supreme polarity boxing,” also refers to these philosophical conceptions and is called an internal martial art in this regard.

Numerous health benefits are found after only a few months of practice: improved muscle tone and elasticity, increased sense of balance, decreased cervicalgia and other spinal disorders. Calm, deep breathing then improves the efficiency of the immune system and cardio-respiratory system, relaxing the mind and promoting a decrease in anxiety, nervousness and insomnia.

Tai Chi interpreted in light of the latest findings of Western science acts on brain structure. The brain is divided into three parts: the neocortex, the mammalian brain and the reptilian brain.

The neocortex, or human brain, as it was the last part of the brain to develop, is divided into two halves: the left hemisphere, the seat of logic, rational reasoning and language, and the right, the seat of creativity, intuition. The harmonization that the holistic practice (1) of Tai Chi brings at the brain level is documented by psychoneuroendocrinoimmunology. PNEI is the new science that tells how mind and body communicate and regulate the balance of our body and our well-being through a hormonal dialogue based on neuropeptides, cytokines to other active substances, powerfully influencing the activity of the immune system.

Martial technique, wellness discipline, moving meditation, evolutionary discipline, Tai Chi is gaining great success worldwide.

Hundreds of studies have been carried out in recent decades.

One, very recent one published in the American Journal of Health Promotion, conducted by Arizona researchers, confirms how the practice of Tai Chi is beneficial to the health of the body and provides psychological benefits while improving overall quality of life.

The study on the effectiveness of Tai Chi in people with rheumatoid arthritis showed that its practice has significant benefit for leg and hip movements. (cit.2)

Israeli neurologists and rehabilitators have tested the effects of Tai Chi on stroke victims, recording in practitioners a marked improvement in recovery of general function and social relationships. (cit.2)

Doctors at Harvard University have added to drug therapyb the practice of Tai Chi in people with severe heart problems, such as chronic heart failure.

The Tai Chi group reported a marked improvement in quality of life, as measured by special scale, and also in the ability to move without fatigue.

Previous studies had shown, moreover, a positive effect of Tai Chi on respiratory and cardiovascular capacity.(cit.2)

A group of oncologists at the University of Rochester, in upstate New York, used Tai Chi as psychological support for women who had undergone standard treatment for breast cancer, recording significantly greater improvement in quality of life and self-esteem than the group that had received only psychological support. (cit.2)

Finally, controlled studies in the elderly have documented a marked improvement in sleep quality and quantity and a significant increase in flexibility and balance, documented by a decrease in falls. (cit.2)

Concluding with a phrase from Master Yang Cheng Fu: “He who can unite the outside with the inside can also realize the integral unity of his being.”

Holism: a philosophical position according to which the nature, behavior, and properties of a system cannot be reduced to the sum of its parts, but are also due to other phenomena or entities, such as the relationships created among the parts of the system.


  • (cit.2) :Quotes from article by Francesco Bottaccioli, excerpted from the site –
  • Tai Chi Chuan and meditation – Da Liu – Ubaldini Editore;
  • Fundamentals of Tai Chi Chuan – Grandi/Venanzi – Luni Editrice.

Published in: Science and Knowledge

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