Many people have the mistaken idea that taijiquan is only for old or sick people. This is largely due to the fact that most magazines, news articles, and TV programs depict seniors practicing taiji. So the younger population believes it is a great low impact exercise which has slow and gentle movements, making it ideal for those who are no longer in good enough shape to do the physical workouts they did in their ”prime” years. Unlike yoga, whose somewhat contorted looking and challenging asanas make it immensely popular for both exercise and relaxation with young people, taiji looks too boring, too easy and, therefore, dull. Anyone, however, who has ever ”played” taiji will know that the opposite is true. Its distinct choreographed movements are precise and complex; there are many different forms, each having their own unique style, lasting from only a few minutes to an hour, and each form is challenging and rewarding in its own right. Taijiquan has its roots in martial arts and is known as the ”supreme ultimate boxing art”. It teaches how to practice self defense by using your own intrinsic energy. This same energy is cultivated in the health application of taiji for maximum health and well being. Competition athletes use taiji to improve their reflexes and reduce the time it takes to heal from sports injuries. Taiji, through its natural movements, adheres to the basic Taoist principles of the development of harmony between yin and yang energies in the body and the promotion of smooth flow of qi, mentally, physically and emotionally. Many of the physical ailments that typically afflict us as we age, such as loss of balance, arthritis, back, knee and hip problems, weak muscles, and high blood pressure, can be prevented by learning taiji at a young age. On a mental level, it can help prevent the onset of senility, dementia and other memory disorders associated with aging. Emotionally, taji provides stress relief, balances mood swings, lessens the need for Ritalin in children with ADD/ADHD, and can even be an effective alternative treatment for schizophrenia symptoms.
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