Those who live in the cities, due to the pressures of their work do not have proper exercise. This may lead to mental strain, nervous breakdown or inefficiency in their daily work.
Health is very important to us, so how to acquire a strong and healthy body is an important problem we are concerned with. It is commonly recognized that proper physical exercise is the best method of keeping our body fit and healthy. But it is not so easy to find a type of exercise that suits people of all ages, though there are many kinds of exercise that exist in our society such as golf, tennis, football and the like.
Tai Chi Chuan is one of the best exercises for all ages. Those who practice it gain a healthy body as well as an alert mind. With the improvement to their health, they are able to concentrate better on their routine tasks and to make decisions more effectively. This may indirectly lead to career success.
The form of Tai Chi Chuan, in performance, looks like a classical dance with graceful movements and alert actions. It also offers a balanced drill to the muscles and joints of the various parts of the body in the way of complicated actions which, in turn, are regulated by the timing of deep breathing and the movement of the diaphragm. Furthermore, a tranquil state of mind and complete dedication to or spiritual concentration on all the movements are required during the exercise. This will ensure that the central nervous system including its cardinal components is given sufficient training and is consequently toned up with time as the exercise continues. It is quite logical to say that the efficiency of the various organs of our body depends largely on the soundness of the central nervous system. In other words, a strong central nervous system is the basic condition of a healthy body.
To the viscera, arterial and respiratory systems, the Tai Chi Chuan will bring forth the same beneficial effects. Besides exercising the muscles and the joints as aforesaid, it gives rise to harmonized and uniform breathing, especially in the movement of the diaphragm. Therefore, it can improve the circulation of the blood and the lymphatic gland.
The movement of the muscles exerts pressure on the veins, forcing the blood to flow towards the heart. During the deep breathing, the muscles of the diaphragm act to massage the liver and the viscera bringing a marked improvement to the functioning of these organs.
One of the characteristics of Tai Chi Chuan is that breathing is brought into harmony with the actions. Since the breathing is so deep that the intake of air to the lungs is greater in quantity than usual, a greater amount of oxygen is available for consumption and thus, blood circulation is accelerated. What is more important is that the blood vessels catering for the nourishment of the heart and the viscera respectively are expanded. In this respect, Tai Chi Chuan serves effectively as a tool to prevent all kinds of diseases of the heart and the viscera and inflexibility of the cardiac muscle.
Tai Chi Chuan offers a good opportunity to exercise the stomach muscles. As a result, the function of the digestive system including the stomach is improved as evidenced by a better appetite and the prevention of constipation. This is advantageous to the aged in particular.
The natural process of human life consists in the taking in oxygen and other nourishments which, after due transformation of state, are conveyed to different parts of the body through the medium of the bloodstream. After undergoing certain physical and chemical processes, part of the materials taken in are converted to waste products which are then excreted. This process is called ‘substitution’. When ‘substitution’ ceases, the spark of life will be extinguished. On the other hand, when substitution is going on in an inefficient manner, arteriosclerosis and many other kinds of diseases will be the result. This is commonly seen with the aged. As Tai Chi Chuan adequately serves the purposes of strengthening the central nervous system, improving the blood circulation, increasing nourishment to the heart and the viscera and promoting better digestion, it will safeguard the process of substitution and prevent many kinds of diseases which are usually contracted by the aged.
In conclusion, Tai Chi Chuan is the best means of preventing diseases and of promoting the general physique.
The form of Tai Chi Chuan, an artistic style of exercise, has a lot of other characteristics. They are very helpful to those who practice it. For example, one of them is the tranquillity of mind which can be achieved throughout the movement. The moves are as fluid as the running water of streams and rivers, while the mind is so peaceful, and the actions so graceful that it is much the same tranquil state as that found in Taoism. The movements of Tai Chi Chuan keep the heart and the lungs in a proper and comfortable condition, giving the body and the mind a lot of benefit.
For the above reasons, it does not only improve one’s health, but also changes ones disposition. It is not surprising that after practicing over a period of time, a hot-tempered man will change into a gentle man. So Tai Chi Chuan is also helpful in improving one’s temperament.
Another characteristic of Tai Chi Chuan is ‘Concentrating on thought rather than strength’. After a period of time, a man will consider thoroughly daily problems with which he is confronted, and will be able to take immediate and appropriate action. Reluctance to emphasize strength means that thought should direct every action when practicing so that every action is alert and skilful. If a man has a healthy body as well as a sound mind, he will handle problems with ease, have considerable success in his career and lead a happy life.