Everett Chiropractic Center Blog

May 23, 2013

The Harvard Medical School Guide To Tai Chi – A Book Review12

Grasp The Bird's Tail 4/4

Grasp The Bird’s Tail: “Press” 4/4

The Eight Active Ingredients of Tai Chi

“…Tai Chi has many more ingredients, and most of these therapeutic factors are inseparable from, and synergistic with, one another. Perhaps what makes Tai Chi so special is that this holistic, multicomponent exercise affects us at physical, psychological, social, and philosophical levels.”

[All of that should be in bold, italicized and CAPITALS a-n-d carved in stone somewhere.]

“The Eight Active Ingredients of Tai Chi are as follows:”

1. Awareness (including mindfulness and focused attention)
2. Intention (including belief and expectation)
3. Structural Integration. “Biomechanically efficient shapes and patterns of movement have functional consequences across many systems.”
4. Active Relaxation – “Tai Chi’s circular, flowing motion helps shift the body and mind into deeper levels of relaxation, and is a form of meditation in motion.”
5. Strengthening and Flexibility – “Tai Chi provides moderate aerobic training equal to levels obtained in walking at a moderate pace. The integrated movements result in less strain, greater power, with less effort and better balance. The slowness of Tai Chi movements, in combination with slightly flexed stances and placing the weight on one leg at a time for sustained periods, leads to significant lower extremity strength training and increased loading on the skeleton, which promotes strong bones. In addition, slow, continuous, relaxed and repetitive movements also results in dynamic stretching, which enhances overall flexibility.”
6. Natural Freer Breathing
7. social Support
8. Embodied Spirituality (including philosophy and ritual) “Tai Chi creates a practice framework for practicing living with a more holistic, Eastern philosophy that integrates body, mind, and spirit.”

“The complexity of Tai Chi, however, makes it a challenge to study scientifically.”

[An understatement.]

About the Photo

This is the Posture that represents the Style for purposes of static training. Note the alignment: the feet are parallel at a 45° angle; the knee, nose and right hand is aligned. And the “line” from the back heel through the spine and neck and including the head (chin down) is intact as always. (Here again notice the eyes are looking “up” relative to the head. Looking up has some neurological implications that are positively “uplifting”… something to think about.:-)



  1. I love Tai Chi but I have problems attending class, and my experience in the past was that it is very hard to learn on your on. I think I will check out this book though.

    Comment by mrperkins — February 14, 2017 @ 7:30 pm

  2. There is a lot that you can do that is ‘tai chi like’ – this author offers such recommendations. These are simple and easy to learn, and more like Qigong, but the health benefits are there. Thanks for commenting!

    Comment by doctordilday — February 15, 2017 @ 10:05 am

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