Based on author Peter Wayne’s research and years of Tai Chi training, he identifies Eight Active Ingredients of Tai Chi in Chapter 2 of his book. They are as follows:
1. Awareness — Perhaps the most fundamental ingredient underlying Tai Chi, the slow deliberate movements and attention to breathing, body positions, and sensations, fosters acute self-awareness, a prerequisite to all other ingredients. The emphasis on moment-to-moment awareness results in mindfulness and improved focus.
2. Intention — Additional active ingredients of imagery, visualization, and related cognitive tools alter intention, belief, and expectation, and contribute significantly to the therapeutic and physiological effects of Tai Chi.
3. Structural Integration — Enhance integration within and between multiple structural and physiological systems is another key active ingredient that underlies Tai Chi’s therapeutic effect. Biomechanically efficient shapes and patterns of movement have functional consequences across many systems.
4. Active Relaxation — Tai Chi’s circular, flowing motion helps shift the body and mind into deeper levels of relaxation and is a form of meditation in motion.
5. Strengthening and Flexibility — Tai Chi provides moderate aerobic training equal to levels obtained in walking at a moderate pace. The integrated movements result in less strain, greater power with less effort, and better balance. In addition, slow, continuous, relaxed, and repetitive movement also results in dynamic stretching, which enhances overall flexibility.
6. Natural, Freer Breathing — More efficient breathing improves gas exchange, massages body tissues, including internal organs, helps regulate the nervous system, improves mood, and balances and moves Qi* with the body and between the body and environment.
7. Social Support — Being part of a group has proven therapeutic value for various medical conditions, including cancer, heart disease, depression, and anxiety. In ongoing Tai Chi classes, students develop a strong sense of community, and with rich interactions and support from teachers and peers, often undergo a profound journey of self-discovery.
8. Embodied Spirituality — Tai Chi creates a practical framework for practicing living with a more holistic, Eastern philosophy that integrates body, mind, and spirit. It can also be a powerful vehicle to add a spiritual dimension to your life. Also, the ritualistic practice of Tai Chi may help amplify and sustain its therapeutic benefits.
*Qi, energy flow in the body
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