Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese exercise based on the martial arts which was created to improve health and longevity. The Chinese observed that when we are young our joints are mobile, muscles and tendons supple and we can move freely. As we grow older and in some illnesses our joints tend to stiffen, muscles and tendons tighten, and we lose some of our mobility. For example, it can become difficult to get in and out of a chair, squat down or get on and off the floor.
Our emotional state when we are angry, frightened, or over-excited can also cause tension which may limit our movement and have other detrimental effects such as headaches or raising our blood pressure. This tension can adversely affect our performance in sports as well as in the arts.
The Chinese believed that if we could prevent and reverse these changes from happening, we might be able to slow down the ageing process. They found that the best way to loosen joints, stretch muscles and tendons was to let go of unnecessary tension by practising a deep relaxation of both the mind and body in the Tai Chi form.