While Tai Chi has strong roots into mystical and philosophical ground, the practical healing and stress management applications are the most popular aspects of the tradition in China today. Both the health and spiritual applications are rapidly gaining in popularity in the Western world as people realize that disease and stress are relieved by peace of mind.
Tai Chi is a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practice that has been practiced for over centuries. Practicing Tai Chi is related to improvements in mental health, emotional well-being, and stress reduction. As a martial art, Tai Chi is a mind/body technique that increases concentration and reduces stress by producing a feeling of calm.
In a controlled trial at La Trobe University in Australia, Tai Chi practice and meditation resulted in significant biochemical and psychological improvements in the response to a stressful experience.
A German study of Tai Chi practice over 18 weeks with young adults measured blood pressure, heart rate, saliva cortisol, and perceived stress. The researchers reported a significant decrease in perceived mental stress as well as marked improvements in general health, social functioning, vitality, and psychological well-being.
A study at Stanford University examined Tai Chi as an intervention among patients with cardiovascular disease. Participants attended a 60-minute Tai Chi class three times per week for 12 weeks. Researchers concluded that the Tai Chi regimen improved psychosocial measures and induced a relaxation response.