Ever saw anyone practicing the graceful, agile moves of tai chi and were immediately struck by a desire to learn it? This may be a good idea too, as recent research suggests that tai chi is a boon for mental well-being.
Originally performed as a form of martial arts in ancient China, tai chi is now widely practiced as a type of exercise or active meditation across the world. It involves performing specific movements in a slow and deliberate manner, without pause so that the individual is continually moving from one position to the next.
In a similar manner to meditation and yoga, the slow, graceful movements of tai chi coupled with the importance of focusing on one’s breadth offers a plethora of mental health benefits. According to Mayo Clinic, tai chi lowers stress, anxiety, as well as boosts mood and energy. A recent study conducted by Massachusetts General Hospital also found that tai chi can alleviate depression, especially in Chinese Americans who may avoid using traditional forms of therapy or treatment for mental illness. The study involved a group of Chinese Americans from Boston, Massachusetts, who were diagnosed with mild to moderate depression and were not undergoing any other psychiatric treatment. During a 12-week program which required attending tai chi classes twice a week, participants showed significant improvement in symptoms of depression, suggesting that tai chi could potentially be used as a supplemental or even alternative form of treatment for depression for some individuals.
If you’d like to tap into the mental health benefits of tai chi but don’t know where to start, look into classes offered at local fitness or recreational centres and meet-up groups. There are also several instructional books and DVDs on tai chi for those who prefer a more solo practice. However, keep in mind that it is oftentimes more challenging to learn proper technique on your own, so it might be a good idea to attend some classes initially. Besides, the social aspect of attending a public class can provide an additional boost to your mood and sense of well-being.
“Study finds tai chi significantly reduces depression symptoms in Chinese Americans” (2017). Retrieved from www.massgeneral.org.
“Tai chi: A gentle way to fight stress” (2015). Retrieved from www.mayoclinic.org.