To Your Health
October, 2007 (Vol. 01, Issue 10)
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Originally, tai chi chuan (where "chuan" means "fist" or "boxing") was developed to train the Chinese emperor's troops for battlefield warfare. There are a large number of styles of tai chi named after the family who developed them (Yang, Wu, Sun Chen), with the most common feature being slow, fluid, dance-like movements.

A few styles incorporate explosive actions along with the slow movements. In a recent interview, Dr. Lixing Lao, director of the University of Maryland's complementary and integrative medicine program and tai chi instructor, said "Not only do I see profound improvement of my Tai Qi students' perception of stress, but also I keep my own stress levels at bay, despite my harried schedule of teaching, researching, treating patients and publishing."

A combination of acupuncture and tai chi practice is synergistic and has the greatest effect on reducing stress and should be seriously considered in any holistic stress management program.

Woman performing Tai Chi. - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Reduce stress and improve balance and agility with these simple tai chi exercises, courtesy of the AARP:

Warding Off

  1. Pretend you're holding a beach ball, with your left hand on top of it and right hand underneath it. Take a small side step with your left foot (point your toes left). As you do this, sweep your left arm upward (palm out) and your right arm by your right hip, palm facing down.
  2. Return to the starting position by rotating your left foot so your toes point forward again. Bring your left foot back under you. Allow your arms to draw inward, and end with your right hand on top of the imaginary ball.
  3. Repeat on the other side. Take a small step with your right foot. Raise your right arm and lower your left.
  4. Reverse the movements to return to the original starting position (left hand on top of the beach ball). Complete this cycle at least twice in a fluid motion.

Working At Shuttle

  1. Stand with your knees bent slightly.
  2. Step forward with your left foot and raise both hands in front of your face (palms out). Your left hand should be farther from your body than the right one.
  3. Return to the starting position by reversing the move and bringing your left foot back while lowering your hands.
  4. Step forward with your right foot, again raising your hands. Your right hand should be in front of the left. Repeat the progression three or four times.

Golden Cock Stands On One Leg

  1. Position a sturdy chair on your left. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, your right arm slightly bent at the elbow, palm facing down. Use the chair for support, if necessary.
  2. Shift your weight to the left leg, and raise your right hand and knee in one motion. Hold this position for one second. Lower your hand and knee to return to the starting position. Repeat steps 1 and 2.
  3. Move the chair to your right side, and repeat steps 1 and 2 (holding the chair with your right hand and lifting and lowering your left hand and leg). Repeat the progression three or four times on each side.

Bill Reddy was an aerospace engineer before becoming a licensed acupuncturist with practices in Annandale and Alexandria, Va. He is a board member of the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.