Tai chi

What is it?

A part of traditional Chinese medicine that combines movement, breathing techniques and meditation. Movements create stability in the body, reflecting an ancient Chinese concept of balance known as Yin and Yang.

Why use it?

The breath work of tai chi is calming and meditative, while creating and holding the poses helps to loosen and strengthen the muscles.

What to expect?

If your class is indoors, you will probably do tai chi in bare feet, and there will be serene music playing. The class usually starts with warm-up exercises. You will be shown different moves and assisted to perform them. The instructor may use names to describe the poses, for example, ‘white crane spreads its wings’.

The movements are simple to start with, then become progressively harder, with many parts of the body needing to move to achieve the pose. Classes end with cooling down and relaxation.

What is the evidence?

Studies have shown that tai chi improves quality of life, balance, agility, flexibility and muscle tone in cancer survivors. It can also help reduce stress.


This information was last reviewed in May 2015
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