Day 5 - Living

Give This a Try ~ Heat, Meditation, Yoga, & Tai Chi

Tai Chi

The health benefits of Tai Chi have proven to be substantial.[4] Tai Chi has been shown to increase physical fitness through strength and muscle tone improvements, as well as improve range of motion, flexibility, and coordination. The basic weight-bearing movements help fortify both muscle and bone, and the coordinated movement of body, head, and eyes helps recalibrate the inner ear, improving balance. The low-intensity movements have an aerobic effect on the cardiovascular system, and lower blood pressure, heart rate, and stress levels, while improving circulation.

Tai Chi's slow, deep breathing induces mental relaxation, increases energy, and improves concentration. The natural extension of the body and limbs improves flexibility and posture. Overall, it is a very low-impact, low-intensity exercise regimen that is appropriate for anyone and particularly beneficial to elderly people.[5]

Tai Chi must be learned from an instructor who has mastered the martial art, and classes are typically taught in weekly sessions. You will learn and memorize the positions of the various forms, and with practice be able to achieve a fluid, well-coordinated, whole-body movement. As you follow the sequence of forms, you will focus on your dantien, concentrate on the deep breathing and slow movements of the exercise, and feel a heightened awareness of your body and a clarity of thought and feeling.

There are considered to be five principles of successful Tai Chi practice:[6]

1. Calm down, and think of Tai Chi only.

2. Eliminate any exertion.

3. Be consistent in movement and speed.

4. Practice truly and precisely, studying the movements you make.

5. Persevere. Practice for the same length of time, at the same hour each day.

Although the basic movements of Tai Chi forms can be learned fairly quickly, complete mastery can take a lifetime. The challenge lies in the introspective nature of the exercise: developing your internal energy and feeling the flow as it moves through your body, then detecting and releasing energy blockages to regain the strong, healthy flow of chi. This will also allow you to recognize stress and tension in your body, and dissolve them by working through the Tai Chi forms.

As with all types of stress management, the physical and emotional health benefits of Tai Chi are the result of the practice itself, and won't persist once the exercise is stopped. Consider Tai Chi as part of your lifetime lifestyle management of IBS, and try it as a preventative strategy to reduce your risk of attacks by minimizing the impact stress has on your body and life.

Day 5 Summary ~
Stress is a powerful trigger for Irritable Bowel Syndrome, but lifestyle habits ranging from adequate sleep and a suitable climate to meditation, tai chi, and yoga can all work wonders for preventing or minimizing stress-related attacks.

Click here to continue reading First Year: IBS.

[4] Tai chi has shown benefits above and beyond traditional exercises, including substantially lower levels of confusion, tension, depression, anger, and fatigue on psychological tests. It may be that Tai Chi's mental discipline – involving visualization, meditation, and focused concentration – reduces stress and provides mental clarity. (Marywood University at Scranton, Pennsylvania, clinical psychologist David A. Renjilian, survey of 66 athletes, 39 participating in martial arts and 27 who participated in team sports. Allure, March 2001, page 130.)

[5] Tai Chi has been found to significantly reduce the number falls among elderly practitioners.

[6] From Tai Chi grand master Ma Yueh Liang. Moyers, Bill. Healing and the Mind, Main Street Books, 1995.

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