What is Tai Chi?
Tai Chi (pronounced TIE-CHEE) is a form of martial arts based in ancient Chinese tradition. Unlike other martial arts such as karate or judo, the movements are meant to be performed slowly and deliberately.
Roughly translated as “Supreme Ultimate Force,” it aligns with the Chinese concept of yin-yang. You have probably seen the common yin-yang symbol which is a circle with equal parts black and white. Yin-yang represents the idea that duality forms a whole. Or, opposites blend to create a complete wholeness. Yin is referred to as shady side while Yang means sunny side. Understanding this concept is the basis for change. Instead of viewing life as whole and absolute, you can learn see it as two halves chasing and balancing each other.
Tai Chi uses the concept of yin-yang to mindfully balance movements. During the series of exercises, you begin to focus on balance, alignment, and natural rhythms of the body. As you get better at the practice, you start focusing on how the contrast of yin and yang movements brings harmony.
Traditionally, this is seen as a way to improve the circulation of chi, or life force, in the body, which can lead to better health and vitality. According to Tai Chi, bodies are composed of energy to help our nervous systems and other bodily functions run optimally. Imbalances often create physical and mental illnesses that could be avoided if we were more mindful of how our lifestyles affect our health and energy flow.
Because it is a low impact exercise, just about anyone can learn the practice. People of all ages and fitness levels are encouraged to try it. It does not require special equipment and can be done just about anywhere. This means if you have a tranquil room or outdoor space, you can easily dedicate it to routine practice.
How Can Tai Chi Help with Addiction?
People struggling with addiction often don’t have means to appropriately cope with life’s everyday stressors. Their knee-jerk reaction to adverse situations is taking comfort in their drug of choice. Finding new and positive ways to deal with stress and negative emotions is crucial for someone who wants to overcome addiction.
Tai Chi provides an excellent opportunity for those who are struggling with addiction to refocus when life doesn’t go as planned. Unfortunately, we are often slaves to our habitual thoughts and actions. If someone angers you at work, you may spend the rest of the day thinking of how this person wronged you. While this negative emotion festers in your mind, all you may be able to think about is getting off work and using alcohol or drugs to deal with the wrong you suffered. This is how addiction affects your thinking and, ultimately, your life. Once you learn to identify and cope with the negative thought patterns that can lead to compulsive behaviors, you have a powerful skill available to battle addiction.
By practicing Tai Chi, you can soon realize that you are not your thoughts and emotions. In fact, they are just passing sensations like an itch or sneeze. This powerful realization can give you the opportunity to change the way you handle stressors and triggers. In addition, practicing when going through a difficult day can redirect your attention and allow your mind to hit the “reset” button of your thoughts.
Those who make a routine of Tai Chi feel less stressed and more in control of their thoughts and reactions. This means better resilience to the triggers that may cause drug or alcohol use. Because this practice is movement meditation, those who tried meditation but couldn’t seem to get comfortable just “sitting there” may find it more engaging and rewarding.
What are the Physical and Mental Benefits?
Can simple movements and focus really be beneficial? Simply put, yes. Tai Chi has been practiced for centuries by those wishing to have better physical and mental health. People from all ages and walks of life have benefited from incorporating this practice into their daily routine.
Physically, a Tai Chi routine gently works your entire body. When performing the exercises, you may feel like you’re working out muscles you didn’t even know you had. More importantly, you may be stretching out muscle tension that has been stored from years of stress and difficult situations. The release you feel can be inspiring and invigorating.
The focus on breathing and movement allows the cardiovascular system to circulate higher quantities of blood and oxygen throughout the body. The movements also strengthen the muscles, which can lead to stronger joints and increased flexibility.
People who are struggling with addiction often neglect their bodies in pursuit of their drug of choice. By practicing an exercise routine, they become reconnected with their bodies and start to appreciate how positive activities can actually make them feel great. Of course, many are reluctant to exercise because it seems so tedious or their bodies aren’t ready for rigorous activity. This practice is a great option because it is an adaptable and low impact exercise. Those weary to start exercising find it is a great opportunity to get moving again.
Of course, the physical benefits are only the beginning. It also benefits the mind. After all, the mind is what controls the body. If you are burdened with stress and other painful emotions, your body also suffers. It creates tension in the muscles, causes decreased immunity, and can lead to conditions like insomnia, anxiety, and depression.
It is also a great mind-body exercise to help you deal with mental challenges. In a comprehensive review of scientific studies, it has been proven to help relieve anxiety and depression. In addition, it increases a person’s self-efficacy, which is a person’s belief that he or she can accomplish goals. This increased confidence can make you more willing to take on the challenges associated with addiction.
How Can it Help with My Recovery?
We are all creatures of habit. This is especially true for those suffering with addiction. The habitual process of obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors create the framework of addiction. Of course, habits and routines don’t have to be negative. In fact, a routine may be the positive change you need for lasting recovery.
Learning the poses and movements is essential, but that is just the beginning. The more you practice, the more it has to offer you. As you become more comfortable with the movements, your focus shifts inward onto how your chi flows. This mindfulness of your personal energy allows you to become more aware of how your personal habits and life stressors are affecting your overall health.
What if you don’t buy into this whole concept of chi? What if the idea seems completely foreign or fabricated to you? This type of exercise can still help.
Think of it this way: when you are really stressed out, you used to reach for your drug of choice for comfort. The next time you are stressed, suppose you try a Tai Chi meditation. Maybe at first you don’t get relief. You’re still skeptical, but you have seen and heard how it helped others, so you figure you will keep trying. Eventually, turning to Tai Chi instead of drugs becomes an ingrained habit in your mind. Your knee-jerk response isn’t using, but instead practicing a healthy alternative to cope with stress. When you get in a fight with your spouse or have a bad day at work, your initial thoughts tell you to practice Tai Chi instead of using drugs. This is the type of true change you need for lasting recovery.
Tai Chi or Yoga: Which Should I Choose?
You may have heard how yoga can benefit the body and help someone dealing with addiction. Because both yoga and Tai Chi focus on specific movements and attention to the breath, you may be wondering what the differences are. Or, more importantly, which would be more beneficial for you to try as you work to overcome your addiction.
The truth is, practicing either yoga or Tai Chi can be beneficial to your recovery. In fact, it wouldn’t hurt to try both practices and see what resonates with you best.
Yoga has its origins in India. Many people picture yoga as fit people doing all sorts of strange stretches, but it is actually a practice geared towards enlightenment and liberation from the burdens of this physical world. The physical aspect of yoga, known as hatha yoga, is just one piece of the entire yoga puzzle.
Yoga focuses more on postures, known as asanas. Each asana has a specific purpose and can be held for a few seconds or even minutes. These postures can require a great deal of flexibility and concentration, although there are usually adaptations for beginners or those unable to perform certain postures. There are some set routines, but the asanas can also be performed individually or in a completely customized routine.
Tai Chi, on the other hand, uses a progression of movements that flow into each other without interruption. They usually need to be performed in a specific way, as it goes along with the yin-yang concept. Since movements are not necessarily stretches, they are less demanding for those who haven’t been active for a while or have issues with muscle or joint pain. This may also make the practice less overwhelming for those just starting a physical activity routine.
One of the other main benefits of Tai Chi is that you can keep practicing the same movements and still get great results. Yoga or other exercise routines may require you to exert more effort as you continue to practice. Tai Chi focuses more on graceful movements and a meditative state, so you don’t necessarily need to stretch longer or push harder.
As with any exercise routine, you want to make sure you get clearance from your doctor or other health professional before starting. When you are ready, give these routines a try. See what works for you. It can be the beginning of a new way of life.
Is Tai Chi as an Addiction Treatment Available Near Me?
If you are considering holistic addiction treatment including Tai Chi classes in the Scottsdale, Arizona area, Pinnacle Peak Recovery can help. We offer a wide range of addiction treatment services ready to help you refocus your life and create lasting change.
At Pinnacle Peak Recovery, we integrate the leading psychotherapy approaches with holistic therapies to give everyone in our program a chance to succeed. When you enter our program, dedicated staff get to know you, your struggles, and your goals for treatment. Our multidisciplinary team creates an individualized program to help you discover the root causes of your addiction and establish a lifestyle that will help you remain drug free.
Our holistic approach to substance use treatment gives you the knowledge and skills to manage withdrawal symptoms, change personal habits, and develop a mindset geared toward lasting recovery. In addition to holistic addiction treatments, we offer intensive therapy and family counseling, evidence-based addiction treatments, and a supportive environment where you can feel comfortable and confident in your journey.
Don’t Wait Any Longer to Start Your Recovery.
Let’s face it, you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired. The way you are living your life is only going to cause more despair and destruction. You know you need to change, even if the decision is scary.
Pinnacle Peak Recovery can help you transition into a better life. A simple call to 866-377-4761 connects you with dedicated professionals who have helped many others in similar situations. If you’re looking to learn more about holistic therapy treatments or you need comprehensive inpatient treatment, we offer the services you need the most. Take that brave step and call now.