August 28, 2009

Symposium sheds light on benefits of Tai Chi

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Tai Chi practitioners and enthusiasts from across the globe attended the symposium at Vanderbilt.

Symposium sheds light on benefits of Tai Chi

More than 400 Tai Chi masters, scholars and practitioners from across the world came to Vanderbilt this summer for a special symposium sponsored by the Vanderbilt Center for Integrative Health.

The symposium, sponsored by the International Yang family Tai Chi Chuan Association, offered a chance to study with five of China’s top masters and the opportunity to learn more about the latest research on the health benefits of Tai Chi Chuan.

“Evidence documenting the advantage of mind-body disciplines grows daily,” said Roy Elam, M.D., medical director of the Center for Integrative Health.

The martial art of Tai Chi Chuan was created in China more than 400 years ago, and consists of a series of slow, relaxed and graceful movements. It requires coordination of mind and body to focus on the cultivation of internal energy and to develop balance.

Often referred to as a moving meditation, Tai Chi Chuan helps reduce stress, increase strength, improve balance and coordination and enhance concentration.

Among those presenting research at the symposium were:

• Shin Lin, M.D., professor of Cell Biology, Biomedical Engineering and Integrative Medicine at University of California, Irvine, who reported on “Physiological and Bioenergetic changes associated with Tai Chi;”

• Gloria Yeh, M.D., assistant professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, who reported on “Tai Chi and Cardiovascular Health;” and

• Nisha Manek, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic, who reported on the potential of Tai Chi Chuan to reduce the risk of osteoarthritis in obese patients.