(6 pages total)
Page 4 - Taiji in the Workplace
The brilliant Master Chang San-Feng (who some honor as the founder of Taijiquan) over 700 years ago believed that "muscular strength was not in harmony with nature and the theories of meditation.(10) Thus, he developed a school of soft martial art and meditation. Perhaps, because of these seemingly conflicting aspects, meditation, health, and self-defense, many Americans are confused about what Taijiquan is and does for an individual. Frankly, the most important aspect is that Taijiquan principles work. Whether in the class, in the boardroom, working on a project, or in sport, Taijiquan principles can enhance your performance without the tension and anxiety that inhibits you from doing your best. By being totally relaxed and concentrated at the same time, you can enhance your achievements.
Taijiquan and Breath
One of the most essential ingredients for performing at your best is to understand the proper and most efficient way to breathe. Whether you simply walk, or are more active like a baseball player, golfer, or aerobic dancer, proper breathing is essential for success. Taijiquan incorporates this necessary ingredient through full deep abdominal breathing and knowing when to inhale and exhale for each movement. This factor is vital to your performance, and yet is overlooked in so many fitness regimes. Unfortunately, most people do not know truly how to breathe. The art of breathing is one of the most overlooked subjects in the study of movement.
Weight lifters know the value of proper breathing, and singers do too. Their careers depend on it. But the average person half the time doesn't take the time to think, "Am I breathing correctly"? They are cutting off one of their best assets for achieving excellence in execution when they don't mind their breath. Wasting breath is like wasting your most valuable commodity. It's squandering your life giving force. A baby is like a real-life breathing machine. Their little bellies are pumping away giving them optimal energy. Their arms and legs move freely with ease. As we get older many people tend to restrict their breathing. They begin shallow breathing from their chests only. This limited kind of breathing puts a harness on life potential. Breath is life. The value of deep abdominal breathing as we practice in Taijiquan is essential for increasing your quality of living.
Lately, Westerner's have been hearing more and more about experimenting with visualization for improving one's physical performance and mental attitude. Books on using visualization for improving one's success in business and the power of imagery in healing are also gaining acceptance in our present day literature. Taijiquan has been using imagery since Taijiquan began around 1200 A.D. When practicing Taijiquan the colorful descriptions that describe different passages, such as "wave hands in clouds" or "stork spreads wings" conjure mental images that influence the quality of the movement. Since the practice of Taijiquan is precise and also imaginative, both hemispheres of the brain are drawn into play. The use of the right and left brain draws out the most potential in an individual. A relaxing, yet strengthening technique such as Taijiquan develops the whole person: in mind, body, and spirit. It is not something that can only be talked about in theory, but needs to be experienced.
Taijiquan and Health
Taijiquan provides a healthy gentle and safe way that totally relaxes the practitioners and teaches us how to use our energy more productively and efficiently. I have coined the expression "Taijiquan is the Great Granddaddy of Low Impact Aerobics". Tests have shown us that when the Taijiquan form is done with knees well bent, more oxygen is burned and it becomes an aerobic conditioning exercise. When the Taijiquan form is performed in the low position, great cardiovascular (heart) stimulation occurs (between 60-80% of M.H.R.)(11) Unfortunately, research in this country has been sparse. Cardiologists, respiratory specialists, orthopedists, sports medicine practitioners, physical and occupational therapists would find Taijiquan to be a most enlightening discipline to do research on due to its multi-faceted health preventive and curative benefits.
Allan Ryan, M.D.(12) on a trip to Taipei looked into the value of this profound system. "He checked the pulse rate of a 45 year old man before and after 13 minutes of Taijiquan and found it went from 64 beats per minute to 160, a good training rate for his age. At the same session he checked the pulse rate of an 80 year-old retired general and found he was able to increase his pulse rate to 120." These and "other encounters" led Ryan to write: "[Taijiquan] can be performed at any speed for any length of time. It exercises every part of the body if a complete set of exercises is carried out, and it develops coordination and balance."
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