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

Conventional medical science on the Chinese art of Tai Chi now shows what Tai Chi masters have known for centuries: regular practice leads to more vigor and flexibility, better balance and mobility, and a sense of well-being. Cutting-edge research from Harvard Medical School also supports the long-standing claims that Tai Chi also has a beneficial impact on the health of the heart, bones, nerves and muscles, immune system, and the mind. 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 a researcher at Harvard Medical School, developed and tested protocols similar to the simplified program he includes in this book, which is suited to people of all ages, and can be done in just a few minutes a day. This book includes:

  • The basic program, illustrated by more than 50 photographs
  • Practical tips for integrating Tai Chi into everyday activities
  • An introduction to the traditional principles of Tai Chi
  • Up-to-date summaries of the research literature on the health benefits of Tai Chi
  • How Tai Chi can enhance work productivity, creativity, and sports performance
  • And much more

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Tags: harvard health publications, harvard medical school, harvard medical school guide, cutting edge research, New Health Ideas, principles of tai chi

2 comments for “The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi: 12 Weeks to a Healthy Body, Strong Heart, and Sharp Mind (Harvard Health Publications)

  1. Brian Hines
    June 24, 2013 at 6:13 AM

    Great blend of Tai Chi science and spirituality I’m an avid Tai Chi practitioner (nine years in, still have a lot to learn) who is loving this book. It was recommended by my Tai Chi teacher who, like Peter Wayne, teaches integrative medicine at the college level.Wayne is an excellent writer. He presents Tai Chi from all angles in his Eight Active Ingredients of Tai Chi model. Seems right on to me. I enjoy Tai Chi for many reasons, physical, mental, social, spiritual (using that term in a non-supernatural sense). I’m open to the farther-out Chinese medicine side of Tai Chi, filled with talk of qi, meridians, subtle energy flows, and such, but don’t find that a belief in all this is necessary to enjoy my practice.So I really like how Wayne looks at Tai Chi from both a scientific, rational, research-based point of view, and also from an experiential, intuitive, practice-based point of view. Like Tai Chi and the Taoist philosophy to which it is strongly related, this book harmonizes seeming yin-yang opposites appealingly.I’m only several chapters into the book, but wanted to share a review ASAP because I’m enjoying it so much. I’ve read quite a few books about Tai Chi, most of which are much more traditional in style and substance. “The Harvard Medical School to Tai Chi” is unique. It will be enjoyed by Tai Chi beginners and old-timers alike, including those who aren’t interested in taking a class but still want to explore what Tai Chi has to offer.Wayne presents old concepts and practices in fresh ways. I heartily agree that introducing people to Tai Chi by having them learn a lengthy form (standard sequence of movements) can be intimidating for many. When I started learning Tai Chi, I’d already had about a dozen years of intensive training in karate and another hard style martial art, where I learned many lengthy kata (forms).Yet initially I was baffled by the Tai Chi “24″ form, one of the most basic. The moves and transitions are tricky, whether or not someone has done other sorts of movement training before. Thus Wayne’s presentation of a Simplified Tai Chi Program, with a focus on simple stand-alone movements, is a great idea.Tai Chi needs to be part of a person’s daily life, not just something to be practiced a few times a week in a class. Wayne says that Tai Chi will change the way we pick up heavy objects, walk along a sidewalk, engage in conversation (or an argument) with somebody, and so much else. Absolutely.I’ve taken up longboarding (on a elongated skateboard) at the age of 64. Reading Wayne’s description of “pouring” from one side of the body to the other made me better realize how akin moving on a longboard/skateboard is to Tai Chi movements. Continuously carving in an “S” fashion down an asphalt trail with linked turns on my longboard bears a lot of resemblance to what Wayne calls “pouring.”The more fluid we can be, the more like water, the better our Tai Chi becomes. Also, the better our life becomes. Read this book. You will benefit from it.

  2. Sonu Singh
    June 24, 2013 at 11:35 AM

    East meets West Tai Chi Expresso I am really enjoying reading the book I tend to skip around to the sections that are interesting me at the moment.First impressions are that it is for every level basic as well as advanced.It’s particularly well written, with lots of nice quotes, favorites follow:’Hall of Happiness’ by GRAND MASTER CHEN MAN CHING, snippet:’Let us fortify ourselves against weakness and learn to be self reliant, without ever a moment’s lapse. Then our resolution will become the very air we breath, the world we live in; then we will be as happy as a fish in crystal waters. This is the joy which lasts, that we can carry with us to the end of our days, if you can, what greater happiness can life bestow?”knowing others is intelligence, knowing yourself is true wisdom, mastering others is strength, mastering yourself is true power’ Lao TzuThe 8 active ingredients framework is a very effective model of representing the key ingredients of a successful Tai Chi practice (some of which I did not pay attention too before), he elaborates why these are so important, and it makes total sense:’1. Awareness, Mindfulness, Focused Attention”2. Intention, Belief, Expectation”3. Dynamic Structural Integration”4. Active Relaxation of Mind and Body”5. Aerobic Exercise, Musculoskeletal Strengthening and Flexibility”6. Natural Freerer Breathing”7. Social Interaction and Community”8. Embodied Spirituality, Philosophy and Ritual’The writings convey a deep understanding of Tai Chi with explanation in a very rational way, that is palatable to the western audience.The simplified Tai Chi form allows quick access to a deeper practice, which from his clinical trials has proven success.There is a week by week progression for beginners, so it has an in-built training course, which to my surprise are easy enough to follow without the aid of video from what I have read so far.Minor amount of repetition I felt on specific points but that may be intentional to drive the point home.I would describe it as an ‘East meets West Tai Chi Espresso!’Sonu SinghAuthor of Space4Zen Blog

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