HOW DOES TAI CHI REDUCE STRESS?
Tai Chi has slow and fast movement but primarily slow in the beginning to help people relax, train internal energy, sensitivity and develop internal power.
We use relaxed coiling spiral type movement to release tension and stiffness and improve relaxation and blood and energy flow. Movement should be always relaxed, natural and comfortable and we connect our breathing and mind intent to our movement which helps bring us into the present moment.
Deep breathing coordinated with our movement and a calm and focused mind helps further to stimulate the relaxation response of the body associated with a toning of the parasympathetic division of the nervous system which manifests as increased glandular secretions, decrease in hypertension, blood pressure, heart rate, deeper breathing and increased blood flow.
In turn, the sympathetic division of the nervous system associated with mental and physical stress and aging is toned down and less active. In China many people practice Tai Chi for longevity as stress is one of the major causes of dying younger.
The vital mind-body connection is mediated by the autonomic nervous system mainly through the secretion of neurohormones and neurotransmitters that affect cells of the immune system.
A positive state of mind enhances our immune system while mental and physical stress produce the opposite effect. A strong immune system means we get sick less often and this is one reason China began to strongly promote Tai Chi among its own people to reduce health care expense.
Particularly with the prevention of falls in the elderly through improved balance as the cost of fractures and mortality through falls is enormous. Also many companies in Japan and America sponsor Tai Chi programs for their employees as they recognize that a healthy workforce is one that will deliver much more in terms of productivity than one which is constantly under stress.