Stressed? Try it with Tai Chi

More than a sport, it is a research. Physical and spiritual. And the result, for those who practice it, is obvious: well-being of the body and psyche. Tai Chi Chuan is an ancient practice, which comes from China, and is the basis of many combat disciplines, such as karate, judo and kung fu. It is strange to think that there is a close relationship between martial arts and these slow movements, reminiscent of a dance. Yet it is so: harmonious gestures are pushes and parries, blows and protections. But there is no fight. Or rather, you can’t see it.

It happens within those who practice Tai Chi, every day, and within each of us, through the contrast between the opposite and complementary energies, the masculine and the feminine, the yin and the yan, which must be integrated into each other. Energy balance is the goal of Tao, the Eastern philosophy on which Tai Chi Chuan is based. “T’ai Chi means “first principle”, Chuan “internal martial art”. Internal because it acts within us, on the Chi, the vital energy. The goal is not the prowess of the muscles, but the control of thought. And the search for balance is achieved through the movement and interaction of different systems of our body. Contractions and expansions of the muscular system, which act on the metabolism and the psyche» explains Franco Mescola, teacher.No equipment needed. Just a comfortable dress and flat shoes. We use a white kimono.” “The benefits can be seen if the practice is constant and daily,” explains Gabriella Banfi, architect. In his spare time he has been practicing Tai Chi Chuan for over 20 years and teaches it in Monza. “There are stronger effects, others more subtle. I got rid of furious headaches. But practice transforms people in a gentle and gradual way. Physically, it improves posture, coordination, elasticity of joints and tendons, relaxation and muscle tone.Someone also uses it as a rehabilitation tool. “I had suffered a car accident eight years ago. The practice of Tai Chi Chuan helped me to regain my balance. Inside and out,” says Irene, a registered nurse. “It gives me a peace of mind that I bring to everyday life. In work, in the relationship with others. I learned to live in the moment and face what happens with more patience.”

“So I empty my mind of competition”
Francesco Conti, 43, arrived at Tai Chi by chance. Concert performer and piano teacher at the Conservatory of Piacenza, five years ago he was looking for a sports practice, to keep fit. “It was a discovery. And I got benefits for concentration. It helps me control my movements, which tended to be jerky, nervous. With Tai Chi, a bit like in the piano, you repeat the gesture, you perfect it. And at the same time you slow down the mind, empty it. You learn to focus on yourself, you anchor yourself to the earth. And you don’t lose this rootedness, even moving between attack and defense, in a game of continuous oscillations and the search for balance». Practice with a teacher and alone, at home, two or three times a week. “I recommend it to everyone. Even young people, as long as we have constancy, need to relax. And that they don’t want to compete or prove something to someone.”

“Lenses at the course, brilliant at work”
Tai Chi enters the company as a training tool. “It helps people control anxiety and stay calm. And it also develops interpersonal relationships and social intelligence,” says Mescola, coach in social initiatives, for example in the prisons of Venice. But also at the Actors Studio in New York, for the Ferrari team and at Bocconi. “You improve intuition. And you learn to fight without wanting to win, give in without wanting to lose. Knowing one’s aggression and managing it in a social context». A three-hour introductory course, for a certain number of participants, costs 300 euros. A six-day full immersion, with three 12-hour seminars, a senior teacher and an assistant, can cost the company about six thousand euros.

Source: October 2008 Millionaire.

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