Tai Chi in the 2008 Beijing Olympics
By Chad Dupuis
Tagged in Internal Arts and News
The opening ceremony at the 2008 Beijing Olympics was certainly an amazing experience. For many people the ceremony served to give viewers a glimpse into many of the unique aspects of Chinese culture and history. For many viewers, it was their first experience of the health and martial art of Tai Chi. ...(tai chi ceremony clip at end of the article)...
Tai Chi deserves much of the exposure it has been getting in recent years. While there are Tai Chi competitions around the world, Tai Chi is better known for its health benefits. In our June newsletter, I added a link to the Health Benefits of Tai Chi article I wrote - here I would like to highlight some of these aspects.
First, it is important to point out that while Tai Chi is a beautiful activity and can look quite graceful (as it did in the ceremony) - it is not a prerequisite to have training in dance or the like. People of all ages, sizes, physical abilities, and relative levels of grace practice Tai Chi daily and experience the health benefits all the same. The Tai Chi form can be adapted to anyone to meet whatever limitations they may have - including adaptations for people who are in wheelchairs or cannot stand for periods of time.
The health benefits of Tai Chi are more about the principles inherent in the tradition. It strongly follows the "less is more" mentality. Which is the opposite, in many ways, from our western stress building - "do more" mentality, or the "work hard, play hard" concept.
For "less is more", Tai Chi performs many of the similar benefits of exercise (stronger bones and muscles, calmer nervous system, increased lung volume, improved circulation, etc.), but it does this by relaxing the body and mind, instead of tensing it like in western exercise. Your body will circulate blood and energy better through relaxed and open vessels. Your mind will be calmer when distractions are limited and you stay more focused and clear. All of these things happen when your body and mind are relaxed - you cannot strain to have your blood flow more freely and you cannot force your mind to be calm. Do less and achieve more by following the way our bodies naturally work is Tai Chi.
What this means in basic terms is that you get the benefits of exercise, the benefits of meditation, the benefits of community, all by simply practicing Tai Chi. And in our stressed world, anything that helps our bodies and minds to be stronger, more focused, and more peaceful is very welcomed.
Tai Chi is gaining more attention and more practitioners worldwide everyday as it is an excellent, proven tool to alleviate many of our modern day illnesses and troubles - emotional and physical. It is nice to see it offered to the world through the olympic ceremonies, it is now up to you to appreciate the value of this art and to utilize it for your benefit and ultimately the benefit of the global community.
Below is a clip of the Tai Chi section of the opening ceremonies: