Health benefits of Tai Chi, specifically during the Menopause

As a professor in China, I carried out research that explored the many benefits of Tai Chi – something widely practised in China.

As the research got underway, I began to witness the many benefits that the practitioners were experiencing and so I decided to take it up myself; it wasn’t long before I too was reaping the benefits!

The research that we carried out looked at benefits in the following areas:

(1) Osteology  (2) Cardiology (3) Stress (4) Age related diseases

How menopause differs between Chinese and Western women

Menopause in Chinese women differs to that of Western women and these slight differences can be put down to a varied amount of influences; diet, lifestyle, fitness regimes etc, however the main differences are twofold:

(1.) Chinese Women get the onset of menopause at least 5 years earlier than western woman (in China the menopause usually starts at 46 as an average, whereas in the USA women usually start at 51 years of age).

(2.) Although most of the symptoms are the same from East to West, it is reported that hot flushes were significantly less common in the Chinese women.

Traditional Chinese medicine believes that during the menopause there is a natural decline in what’s known as “Precious Essence” or – “Yin”, a passive feminine energy. Correspondingly, there is an increase in the “Yang” energy, or active masculine energy. The Yang energy is an important part of ‘the change’ that moves women from being passive to setting boundaries, speaking their mind more often, and therefore their whole outlook on life changes. This can be a rich time, and deep inward direction can come out of it.

The importance of exercising correctly

No one disputes the importance of regular exercise. However, there are so many fitness programs available today that the general public is often confused as to which is the best. Consequently, they are the willing ‘guinea pigs’ of every fitness fad that comes along and some people enroll in the “No Pain No Gain” approach that is just not suitable for their bodies or conditioning.

The Chinese have always maintained that inactivity is the major cause of illness thus, they have developed numerous systems of medical gymnastics, both to cure as well as prevent disease. Of the many exercises they have devised, they consider the martial art Tai Chi Chuan to be the best.

Tai Chi Chuan v alternative exercises

The largest shortcoming of most types of physical fitness is that they focus on certain parts of the body i.e. muscles or muscle groups, whilst neglecting other parts entirely. It is found that isometric exercises render joints more vulnerable to injuries.

Tai chi on the other hand brings into play every part of the body and benefits all bodily parts, not just the musculoskeletal systems. Scientific research conducted at the (Bellevue Hospital in New York City) has shown that Tai Chi Chuan stimulates the central nervous system, lowers blood pressure, and relieves stress while gently tones muscles without strain.

You can read more about the health benefits here.

My personal experience of Tai Chi

I began the menopause at approximately 49 years of age with insomnia, lack of vitality, muscle and bone aches and occasionally very severe migraines. Upon talking to the Tai Chi practitioners that had been practicing for many years, they reported similar problems but had no adverse effects – which is something that they put down to the exercise regime they had been doing, as well as some Chinese herbal medicines.

At first I was skeptical about the effect of Tai Chi on the symptoms of the menopause, but as I became more and more proficient and focused, I was able to control, firstly the migraines, and secondly the other symptoms, so much that I reduced the hot flushes down to hardly mentioning.

Tai Chi at the Beehive

At THS UK we teach Health Qi Gong with every Tai Chi Chuan class and practitioners have seen the benefits of both. (Qigong (or ch’i kung) is an internal Chinese meditative practice with over 3000 years of history, which often uses slow graceful movements and controlled breathing techniques.)

We teach the steps of all the forms in order for the practitioners to become proficient in the movements and use natural breathing during these classes. As practitioners get more proficient we will introduce the breathing and the controlling of the natural energy around the body. All too often you will see Tai Chi Classes concentrating on the Qi aspect of the form without knowing the movements; it’s like a glove without a hand.

Witness Tai Chi for yourself

After Easter we will be holding a Tai Chi seminar and demonstration, open to all the public to showcase our practitioner’s Tai Chi that will include – Health Qigong – “Ba Duan Jin” “Yi Jin Jing” , Tai Chi 24 Yang Style, Tai Chi Sword 32 and finally Chen Style Tai Chi  “Lao Jia Yi Lu – Old Frame one”. These practitioners started learning Tai Chi in June last year and you will be the judge of their progression. Most of all it’s fun and rewarding and I am very proud of my students for their dedication and determination.

Dr Najia Tian

More information about Dr. Najia Tian

My name is Dr. Najia Tian and I’m a 63 year old, retired Senior Medical Professor. Most of my work and study was in the field of immunology and I studied at the Medical University of Harbin in North East China, but I have also worked as a Research Fellow in Minnesota University in the US and in Leeds General hospital. I now live in the North West of England and run Trust Health Service (THS) UK at the Beehive. We hope that eventually it will bridge the gap between Eastern and Western Healthcare, taking the best from the East to the West and vice versa. Read more about THS UK here.

If you fancy giving Tai Chi a try, simply send us an email or call us on 01244 915 603 to book onto a class – we also have a full class timetable available.