Tai Chai is the very opposite of exercise methods that require plenty of rigorous exertion. Instead, this ancient Chinese practice is all about balance and moving slowly through a flow of elegant movements in slow motion. The emphasis is on achieving a state of calmness, which is somewhat ironic because Tai Chi began as a martial art training process.
It may not appear to be as spectacular as aerobic exercise. But proponents of Tai Chi swear by it as effective method of relieving stress, which, through the release of the steroid cortisol, can cause Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) weight gain and obesity. Tai Chi, which takes numerous forms, has also been shown to lower blood pressure, which, if left unchecked, can lead to heart disease. Other benefits include improved circulation, enhanced heart-lung capacity and a reduced risk of osteoporosis.
The philosophy behind Tai Chi is that, by slowing yourself down, you can experience vital inner energy called qi, which builds strength through balance, coordination and focus. It can take a while to master and there are plenty of instruction manuals and DVDs on the market. But try these simple exercises to give yourself a taste of Tai Chi.
The basic starting position, called wu chi in Chinese, emphasizes complete stillness. By standing motionless for five minutes, you should start to learn to listen to your internal energies. Stand with feet aligned to your armpits, with weight evenly distributed, and let your shoulders drop. Scan your body from head to toe, gradually letting go of each area of tension. Breathe naturally and keep your eyes open or half-closed.
Raise your hands while standing with your shoulders and torso relaxed and feet parallel. Try to drop your weight down into your lower torso, breathe through your nose and slowly raise your arms straight in front to shoulder height. Imagine your wrists are tied to strings and are being lifted by them. Let your hands dangle. Once your arms reach shoulder height, straighten out your hands and fingers to form a straight line from elbow to fingertip. Slowly draw your hands back towards your shoulders and let your elbows drop naturally to your sides. When you begin to feel tension in your biceps, let your fingertips float up and the palms glide down. Slowly lower your hands until they’re beside your thighs and then begin again. Repeat these movements 10-15 times over 2-4 minutes.
Placing your weight on one leg is meant to heighten awareness of how your inner energy flows. Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width. Put your weight on your right foot, bend your right knee a little and point your left foot out, flexed at a right angle. Rest the left heel lightly on the ground with no weight on it. Keep the spine straight. Extend your left arm in front of you, forming a straight line from elbow to fingertips. With right arm bent, move your hand so your open right palm faces the inside of your left elbow. Let your right thigh carry your weight. Breathe normally and try to hold for a minute. Pivot to the other side and repeat with your weight on your left foot etc. for another minute.
Reversible Insulin Resistance often underlies stress-induced weight gain by causing high levels of glucose and insulin in the blood stream stemming from the inefficient conversion of glucose into energy. If left unchecked, this condition may, result in the onset of a number of potentially dangerous disorders. These include the cluster of cardiovascular diseases called Metabolic Syndrome or Syndrome X and the hormonal imbalance known as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).