AS A STUDENT OF Tai Chi Chuan [literally translated "the supreme ultimate boxing], I was stoked to hear about this study which came out last month from the University of Florida. It showed, among other things, that people with type 2 diabetes were able to lower their blood sugar over a period of six months by regularly practicing Tai Chi.
Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese martial art. There are many forms, but the root concept is the same: you focus on a series of postures and movements that simulates defending against various attacks. It’s basically an exercise in flow. Everything is slowed down to the point where the motions become a form of moving meditation, a way to concentrate on your breathing and harmonize mind and body.
Over the years I’ve practiced a couple different forms, and each time am amazed at how the ‘effects’ of an hour long session can last for the rest of the day or night. You have more energy, less stress, and you just move better. You pay attention to how you stand up, sit down, walk across a room. You have higher mental clarity.
I’ve also found that doing a little bit of Tai Chi before paddling, surfing or snowboarding helps me perform better. Some of the movements within the forms, such as ‘Needle at Sea-Bottom’, are essentially board-riding stances. And others, such as ‘Wave Hands Like Clouds’ teaches you how to initiate turns using your whole body.
I love it when science substantiates what people intuit for themselves. Tai Chi is healing. It’s something you should consider starting now, or picking back up if you’ve studied before. The key, in my opinion, is having a good teacher. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any solid ‘national’ resources. Please search your local area for Tai Chi instructors. Any other online resources out there? Please let us know in the comments, and tell us what health (or other) benefits you’ve experienced through Tai Chi.