The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi: 12 Weeks to a Healthy Body, Strong Heart, and Sharp Mind

The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi: 12 Weeks to a Healthy Body, Strong Heart, and Sharp Mind (Harvard Health Publications), by Peter M. Wayne, PhD, with Mark L. Fuerst, Shambhala, 2013, 353 pages.

Known formally as tai chi chuan (tie jee chwahn), tai chi is an ancient Chinese form of relaxation, healing, and martial art originally developed for self-defense. It has been practiced to alleviate numerous conditions, including the relief of pain. In fact, tai chi has become the fastest-growing popular exercise around the world. Developed as an extension of qigong, the goal of tai chi is to control the “chi” (or “qi”), the vital life power in the body. Qigong is frequently incorporated into tai chi classes, and both practices share the philosophy of balancing inner energy flow, plus yin and yang, to achieve harmony.

Research from Harvard Medical School shows beneficial effects on the heart, bones, nerves, muscles, immune system, and brain from tai chi. This research provides fascinating insight into the underlying physiological mechanisms that explain how tai chi actually works.

Dr. Peter M. Wayne, a longtime tai chi teacher and researcher at Harvard Medical School, developed and tested protocols similar to the simplified program this book contains, which is suited to people of all ages and can be done in just a few minutes a day. In addition to the basic program, which is illustrated with more than 50 photographs, the book provides practical tips for integrating tai chi into everyday activities, an introduction to the traditional principles, and information on how tai chi can improve work productivity, sports performance, and even creativity.

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Want to learn more about tai chi? Read “The Power of Tai Chi to Relieve Pain,” “The Many Benefits of Tai Chi,” and “Exercise 101: Finding the Right Exercise for Pain Relief.”

Joan Edgett is the former Editor of Pain-Free Living.

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