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What Are The Health Benefits of Tai Chi Chuan?

taiAttenuation of Age Decline

Considerable published research in science journals now reveals that tai chi chuan improves overall physiological functioning and has been found to attenuate the age decline.

Meditation In Movement

Mindfulness practice normally involves following the sensations of breathing, noticing when the mind wanders off, noticing without analyzing where it went, and then immediately, nonjudgmentally, returning your attention to the object of focus—the breathing sensations. Although formal sitting meditation is the primary way of practicing mindfulness, it is far from being the only way. Tai chi is often viewed as a form of meditation in movement.

Benefits of Daily Practice

  • Reduces mental and physiological stress
  • Increases psychological and physical resilience
  • Improves wellbeing

Attentional Training

If you have seen tai chi practiced, you probably think of it as nothing more than a choreographed set of slow motion exercise, which is how most people practice it. Yet, for those lucky enough to learn it with the energy-building intricacies, as I did from T.T. Liang and William C.C. Chen, it becomes an extraordinary form of attentional training.

LDV-manInternal Energy Training

The generation of internal energy (chi) necessitates that the mind be very focused on this internal training, as opposed to just going through the motions of an external set of choreographed postures. When practiced daily with full attention to this internal energy, numerous benefits, such as enhanced awareness, mindfulness, and focus, improve all areas of life.

Improved Sleep

The reduction in mental and physical stress experienced by those who practice every day improves sleep quality, contributing to improvements in health and wellbeing.

Optimization of Psychological Flexibility

Tai chi chuan is about learning how to relax in order to optimize efficiency of movement. Especially in Western culture, we learn to carry a lot of tension in the upper body. Not only is this very unhealthy, it blocks the natural energy, resulting in the inefficient use of muscle strength. When someone untrained in tai chi is attacked, physically or verbally, instinctively, the person tenses up. This results in slowing of body and mind. A tai chi adept will remain relaxed and alert mentally and physically during a physical or verbal attack, which allows for the availability of enormous internal energy, speed, and psychological flexibility.

Diaphragmatic Breathing

Through the practice of tai chi, you will learn to relax the upper body while walking and in every activity. You will also learn how to breathe diaphragmatically and to control the rate and rhythm of your breathing.

Body Mechanics

Still another benefit of tai chi chuan is that you will learn good body mechanics. This means leaning how to pull, push, lift, reach, bend over, and move without injury.

yin-yanBottom Line

Tai chi chuan is an extraordinary form of attentional training, a wonderful adjunct to sitting meditation practice, and the daily practice goes a long way in enhancing mental and physical health.


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What Are The Health Benefits of Tai Chi Chuan?

Dr. Larry Berkelhammer

Dr. Berkelhammer is a retired mind-body medicine psychologist. He writes about mindfulness-based practices with a unique emphasis on optimization of wellbeing and health. Dr. Berkelhammer also lectures at San Francisco State University and UC San Francisco, and is currently teaching a class in Marin County through College of Marin. He is the author of the book "In Your Own Hands; New Hope for People with Chronic Medical Conditions".

See his extensive website:

In Your Own Hands: Mindfulness-Based Practices to Optimize Wellbeing - College of Marin Community Education

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APA Reference
Berkelhammer, D. (2014). What Are The Health Benefits of Tai Chi Chuan?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 27, 2020, from


Last updated: 30 Nov 2014
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network ( prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on All rights reserved.