Tai Chi: Realize Your Supreme Potential

Are you working toward a health and fitness goal, or are you training to perform to the best of your abilities in a sport or athletic endeavor? If you are, I’d like to let you know that you were born with the supreme potential to reach your goals! This sound wisdom comes from the ancient philosophers and martial artists who developed the time-honored practice of Tai Chi.

Tai Chi translates to the “Supreme Ultimate,” which recognizes the supreme potential (Tai) we’re all born with — to be able to overcome the ultimate challenges (Chi) we face in life.

Tai Chi is a whole body workout

A report from Harvard University’s health blog explains that Tai Chi can be an aerobic workout equivalent to a brisk walk.

Tai Chi also strengthens the body as it focuses the mind.

The practice has health benefits such as:

  • Building bone strength
  • Increasing joint stability
  • Improving cardiovascular health
  • Boosting immunity
  • Enhancing emotional well-being

Studies show Tai Chi can reduce falls in seniors by up to 45 percent thanks to its ability to improve leg strength, flexibility and range of motion.

Tai Chi can also help improve the balance of people with neurological problems such as Parkinson’s disease. Tai Chi is also part of today’s approach to integrative medicine.

If you’ve ever observed someone performing the Yang style Tai Chi form, you’ll notice that the movements are performed very slowly and gracefully, like the flowing water of a river meandering through a forest. Why? The reason for performing these martial arts movements very methodically is to heighten the individual’s awareness of how they feel both physically and emotionally while executing, with the utmost precision, a variety of martial arts techniques such as punching, blocking and kicking.

The ultimate goal of practicing Tai Chi was, and is to this day, to be able to use the principles of this mind-body exercise in real life situations such as overcoming a difficult challenge, achieving a goal, mastering martial arts techniques or mastering the techniques of any athletic endeavor with greater patience, poise and physical prowess.

Thankfully many of us don’t find ourselves in combative situations. However, in modern times these same principles of practice can be used by anyone, including you. They can help you realize your supreme potential when you’re working to succeed at an emotionally and physically challenging personal goal.

What are these principles? The good news is you don’t have to learn an entire Tai Chi form to learn the basic principles of practice. I do recommend you learn a Tai Chi form to experience all the evidence-based benefits of Tai Chi such as strengthening the body, improving joint stability and improving balance.

Here are four principles that are simple yet profoundly powerful when you’re working toward achieving any goal.

  1. Properly position your body for the situation you’re faced with because form facilitates function. Think of this as a martial artist’s ready position no matter what position you need to assume.
  2. Use deep breathing to counteract the “fight or flight response” and facilitate a more “relaxed and ready” state of being that’s necessary to face and embrace the challenge at hand.
  3. Relax the muscles you don’t need when you assume a more properly positioned body for the activity you’re engaged in. Your newfound relaxed-ready state facilitates your ability to use the relaxed-flexibility of your extremities to execute any technique with greater efficiency and power.
  4. This is the most important principle. Stay focused on the present moment with your properly positioned body, deep breathing and a relaxed state of readiness. Don’t let negative self-talk dissuade you from your intended goal or increase your emotional stress and/or physical tension. It’s within the present moment you can practice acceptance of the challenge, gratitude for the opportunity to overcome the challenge and ultimately be able to realize your supreme potential!

As it’s often said, and practiced in Tai Chi, be like water, my friend, and go with the flow!

Meet the Author

John Burns, DPT, MPT, MSOM is the Clinical Services Coordinator Acupuncture in the Aurora Health Care Department of Integrative Medicine in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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The information presented in this site is intended for general information and educational purposes. It is not intended to replace the advice of your own physician. Contact your physician if you believe you have a health problem.

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