Tai chi: For mind and body

Tai chi is practiced in Marquette’s Lower Harbor Park some years ago. (Journal file photo)

MARQUETTE — It’s often cited as among the best ways to improve health, this side of a rigorous exercise program.

Tai Chi is a gentle, slow-moving exercise that improves balance, focus and regulates the immune system. It continues to be a part of treatment programs at the Mayo Clinic, John Hopkins, and the Harvard’s School of Medicine.

In fact, Harvard’s School of Medicine states the following: “Tai chi is often described as “meditation in motion,” but it might well be called “medication in motion.”

There is growing evidence that this mind-body practice, which originated in China as a martial art, has value in treating or preventing many health problems. And you can get started even if you aren’t in top shape or the best of health.

In this low-impact, slow-motion exercise, you go without pausing through a series of motions named for animal actions — for example, “white crane spreads its wings” — or martial arts moves, such as “box both ears.” As you move, you breathe deeply and naturally, focusing your attention — as in some kinds of meditation — on your bodily sensations.

Tai chi differs from other types of exercise in several respects. The movements are usually circular and never forced, the muscles are relaxed rather than tensed, the joints are not fully extended or bent, and connective tissues are not stretched. Tai chi can be easily adapted for anyone, from the most fit to people confined to wheelchairs or recovering from surgery.

A growing body of carefully conducted research is building a compelling case for tai chi as an adjunct to standard medical treatment for the prevention and rehabilitation of many conditions commonly associated with age.

An adjunct therapy is one that’s used together with primary medical treatments, either to address a disease itself or its primary symptoms, or, more generally, to improve a patient’s functioning and quality of life.

On Saturday morning, a workshop on the mind/body practice of Tai Chi Chuan will be held at Marquette’s St. Paul’s Episcopal Church’s Morgan Chapel, 201 Ridge St. from 10 a.m.-noon.

Jon and Diana Magnuson will serve as instructors. For more information or to register, call 906-228-5072.


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