6. Exercise is the key to a healthy body According to TCM, exercise can strengthen our bones and tendons, dredge the internal meridians, enable our blood and ‘qi’ to circulate better, regulate our breath and calm our mind, all of which are the keys to good health.
There are 3 main aspects in TCM exercise theory, i.e soothes the mind, regulates the ‘qi’, and balances the movement of physical body. Exercising allows the mind to lead the ‘qi’ and the ‘qi’ in turn, leads the body movement. The cycle of the “mind”, “qi” and “body movement” is where TCM exercise theory emphases on and where the beauty lies in. Meditation is to exercise the mind; proper breathing is to exercise the ‘qi’. Qi promotes the blood in our body as well as leads the movement of our body. In TCM, exercise is to combine meditation, breathing and body movement together to maintain vitality and yin-yang balance.
The combination of stillness and movement, mind and body is the essence of the view of TCM exercise. Stillness means calm and peace through concentration of the mind; Movement refers the turning and moving of body parts such as hands, arms, legs and head. Certain positions or movement of our ‘body’, accompanied with ‘right’ mental thoughts are instrumental to maintain the body’s normal functions and may even unearth deeper potentials within. This is called the Oneness of the mind and the body.
Tai Ji is a unique way of exercise, its essence is what we mentioned earlier –“Mind leads ‘qi’, ‘qi’ leads body movement”. When practicing Tai Ji, one must allow the mind, breathing and movement to be as one. It is gentle yet powerful, the perfect manifestation of stillness in movement and movement in stillness. Tai Ji calms an individual and is an effective way to fend off negative emotions.