Mulan Style Tai Chi is a major Tai Chi style that was
created by a woman master. Learn more.
T'ai Chi for Women [Excerpts from The Complete Idiot's Guide to T'ai Chi & Qigong]
T'ai Chi is the ultimate exercise for women, in part because of its ability to cultivate both elegance and power. In today's working environment, where women are competing with men and trying to break through the glass ceiling, T'ai Chi's ability to cultivate an inner sense of confident power can be very helpful. However, T'ai Chi can be helpful to women for many biological reasons as well.
Halting Bone Loss
Bone loss is a big problem with many women. Studies indicate that stress may be a major factor contributing to the loss of bone mass in even relatively young women. The daily stress relief T'ai Chi promotes provides a powerful preventive therapy to help ensure a long, active life for women.
Studies have shown that QiGong practice raises estrogen levels in women, including those over 45. This is highly desirable because reduced estrogen levels after menopause cause a loss of calcium from the bones and increase the risk of osteoporosis and heart disease.
Treating Eating Disorders
Women suffer from eating disorders 10 times more often than men do. Although often thought of as an adult problem, anorexia and bulimia most often start in the teenage years, while the sufferer is still at home. Although I am unaware of any studies on the effectiveness of T'ai Chi as therapy for anorexia or bulimia, the underlying issues and symptomology seem to suggest that T'ai Chi practice embodies much of the treatment criteria for eating disorders.
For example, it is recommended that anorexia and bulimia sufferers strengthen their inner core of self and self-worth. The self-esteem T'ai Chi practice builds and encourages can be a highly effective way to discover the power within one's self. The need for a restoration of biochemical and hormonal balance may be facilitated with T'ai Chi's ability to create a homeostatic effect throughout the body, not only physically, but also mentally and emotionally. T'ai Chi addresses the need to balance internal rhythms and needs with life's demands by those who practice it so they can become quietly mindful of subtle feelings and needs before they suffer from a crisis born of acute stress or panic.
Do not attempt to self-treat any disorder, including an eating disorder. Suggest T'ai Chi and QiGong to your physician or therapist as an adjunct therapy. It may be a powerful addition to your ongoing treatment, but discuss it with your doctor.
Mood swings and depression are a part of bulimic bingeing, and feelings of lack of personal control are a part of many teenagers' anorexia or bulimia. Food, or denying ourselves food, provides us with a feeling of self-control over an out-of-control world. T'ai Chi's regular practice is designed to help us realize that we have a great deal of control over how we are impacted by the world. This centering enables us to feel more accepting of the fact that much of the world is beyond our control.
Preparing for Childbirth
T'ai Chi has much to offer a pregnant woman, if practiced very gently and with care. Most pregnant women can practice its slow and gentle movements. Its gentleness and relaxed motion promote the circulation of energy and blood throughout the body, while its smooth abdominal breathing fully oxygenates the bodies of both mother and child. However, only practice when it feels good, and never strain yourself. Rest whenever you need to, and modify or forgo any movement or exercise that doesn't feel right.
T'ai Chi breathing is a wonderful way to prepare for delivery. The famous Lamaze breathing technique is based on QiGong breathing techniques and pain-management tools. This aspect of T'ai Chi makes it perhaps the most effective exercise to prepare you for a safe, natural childbirth. Remember to breathe.
Sage Sifu Says
Although T'ai Chi is very gentle, some postures may be too low or somewhat strenuous for pregnant women. Do not practice these postures, or adjust them so they are less strenuous for you. As your pregnancy progresses, change your T'ai Chi to make it less strenuous with each passing month. Always go slow and listen to your body. Do not do anything that doesn't feel good. Be sure your physician approves of T'ai Chi before beginning classes.
* In World Tai Chi & Qigong Day's DVD section, you'll find a new Tai Chi DVD created specifically for pregnant women, by Beth Hopkins-Acampora, from the Center for Natural Health.
MEDICAL RESEARCH - TAI CHI for WOMEN
BRITTLE BONES/BONE LOSS IN WOMEN. Research from the National Institute of Mental Health reports that the stress hormones found in depressed women caused bone loss that gave them bones of women nearly twice their age. T’ai Chi and QiGong are known to reduce depression and anxiety and provide weight-bearing exercises to encourage building bone mass and connective tissue.
DEPRESSION and MOOD DISTURBANCE
Regular (daily) T’ai Chi practitioners usually find less incidence of depression and overall mood disturbance.
Relative to measurement beforehand, practice of T'ai Chi raised heart rate, increased nonadrenaline excretion in urine, and decreased salivary cortisol concentration. Relative to baseline levels, [Test Subjects] reported less tension, depression, anger, fatigue, confusion and state-anxiety; they felt more vigorous, and in general they had less total mood disturbance.
(American Psychological Association) Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 1989 Vol 33 (2) 197-206
BREAST CANCER THERAPY (TAI CHI).
Tai Chi Chuan, health-related quality of life and self-esteem: a randomized trial with breast cancer survivors. Mustian KM, Katula JA, Gill DL, Roscoe JA, Lang D, Murphy K.Behavioral Medicine Unit, Department of Radiation Oncology, James P. Wilmot Cancer Center, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, 601 Elmwood Avenue, Box 704, Rochester, NY 14642, USA. Karen_Mustian@urmc.rochester.edu
GOALS: Health-related quality of life (HRQL) and self-esteem are often diminished among women diagnosed and treated for breast cancer. Tai Chi is a moderate form of exercise that may be an effective therapy for improving HRQL and self-esteem among these women. We sought to compare the efficacy of Tai Chi Chuan (TCC) and psychosocial support (PST) for improving HRQL and self-esteem among breast cancer survivors. PATIENTS AND METHODS: A group of 21 women diagnosed with breast cancer, who had completed treatment within the last 30 months were randomized to receive 12 weeks of TCC or PST. Participants in both groups met three times a week for 60 minutes. HRQL and self-esteem were assessed at baseline, 6 weeks, and 12 weeks. RESULTS: The TCC group demonstrated significant improvements in HRQL, while the PST group reported declines in HRQL, with the differences between the two groups approaching significance at week 12. Additionally, the TCC group exhibited improvements in self-esteem, while the PST group reported declines in self-esteem, with the differences between groups reaching statistical significance at week 12. These findings, coupled with a visual inspection of the raw change scores, support the plausibility of a dose-response relationship concerning Tai Chi.
CONCLUSIONS: In this pilot investigation, the TCC group exhibited improvements in HRQL and self-esteem from baseline to 6 and 12 weeks, while the support group exhibited declines.
Tai Chi helps women recover from breast cancer surgery: researcher
- Xinhua News Agency - September 17, 2005
The traditional Chinese exercise of Tai Chi helps women who develop persistent arm swelling after breast cancer surgery, an Australian researcher has found.
An Australian Associated Press report on Friday quoted Neil Piller of the Flinders Medical Center in Adelaide, South Australia, as saying that up to 30 percent of breast cancer patients develop a condition known as lymphoedema after a mastectomy or partial breast removal.
Lymphoedema results from an inadequate drainage of fluid which causes swelling, pain and a feeling of heaviness. . . .
Fluid levels at the end of the month dropped an average of around 100 ml, a reduction of about 9 percent, Piller said. . .
Results of the study are soon to be published in the International Journal of Lymphology.
Source: Xinhua - see entire article at:
TAI CHI is
- AEROBIC ALTERNATIVE - HEART HELPER - BALANCE BOOSTER
- BONE PROTECTOR - IMMUNE SYSTEM BOOSTER - PAIN RELIEVER !!
Readers Digest Health - July, 2005
. . . among recent findings:
Aerobic alternative . . . Taiwan University Hospital study found that t'ai chi qualifies as aerobic exercise. (A 150 pound person can burn 270 calories in an hour.) University of California, San Francisco, researcher reported that it has cardiovascular benefits for heart disease patients.
2004 University of Liverpool study of women ages 33-55 showed that those who did t'ai chi three times a week for 12 weeks had improved balance and lower blood pressure . . . University of Hong Kong . . . postmenopausal women had stronger bones [due to tai chi] . . . South Korean study . . . osteoarthritis patients had less pain after 12 weeks of t'ai chi. . . .
DRUG UPTAKE [as it may pertain to women taking hormone therapy for menopause]. The QiGong Institute reviewed voluminous studies done worldwide and concluded that QiGong and drug therapies are superior to drug therapy alone. The reason for this is believed to be found in QiGong’s ability to enhance Qi and blood circulation to that area so that nutrients may more efficiently be delivered to the affected cells, and also waste products in the stressed tissue can be removed more readily.
FIBROMYALGIA. Fibromyalgia is a modern epidemic, a chronic pain condition affecting 6 to 8 percent of the U.S. population. T’ai Chi has been recommended by some health professionals as a very desirable adjunct therapy for sufferers. In 2000, the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimores’ study of a nonpharmacologic intervention in fibromyalgia resulted in Twenty of 28 subjects completed at least 5 of the 8 sessions of a Qigong Program. Significant improvement was seen in the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire and a range of other outcome measures including tender points and pain threshold. Improvement was sustained 4 months after the end of the intervention.
More on Tai Chi and Fibromyalgia at World Tai Chi & Qigong Day's Fibromyalgia section.
TAI CHI & OSTEOPEROSIS
The most common metabolic bone disorder is osteoporosis, which affects 25 million Americans, of whom 80% are women. Bone loss in women occurs most commonly after menopause, when the rate of loss may be as high as 2% per year. Bone mass can be determined with dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry. The rate of active loss can be assayed by the detection of bone collagen breakdown products (e.g., N-telopeptide, pyridinoline) in the urine. Although it has been suggested that white women are most commonly affected, Hispanic and Asian women are also affected. Strategies for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis are directed at maximizing peak bone mass by optimizing physiologic intake of calcium, vitamin D therapy, exercise, and maintenance of normal menstrual cycles from youth through adulthood. Coupled with drug therapy should be a comprehensive approach to exercise and fall prevention. Stretching, strengthening, impact, and balance exercises are effective. Of the balance exercises, tai chi chuan has proved to be the most successful in decreasing falls. Prevention of bone loss is obviously preferable to any remedial measures, but new therapeutic strategies provide a means of restoring deficient bone.
Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, China, 100083
This article elaborates space illnesses caused by weightlessness to astronauts, believing that physical exercise is an important way to overcome physiological and psychological illnesses, and that Taijiquan is an effective exercise in outer space. And it also analyzes theoretically Taijiquan's effect on overcoming space illnesses. [which may be relevant to osteoperosis problems with people that occurs]
When astronauts have a long travel in space, if they practice Taijiquan regularly and scientifically with a soft, steady, harmonious, continuous, smooth and natural posture, their bones and joints will move freely and blood circulation will be smooth so that the bones can get plenty nutrition and oxygen. It promotes the metabolism of skeletal muscles, improves the hemopeoieitic ability of red bone marrow and guarantees the nutrition of muscles, making muscles always under the aerobic condition. These provide a way to solve a deprivation of calcium, osteoporosis and amyotrophy in the state of weightlessness.
Tai Chi & Pregnancy
QIGONG (Chi Kung) TRAINING and OSTEOPOROSIS
American Journal of Chinese Medicine, 1999
Effects of Chun Do Sun Bup Qi-training on growth hormone, insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-I, and testosterone in young and elderly subjects
e observed the response of plasma growth hormone (GH), insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) and testosterone (T) to an acute period of ChunDoSunBup (CDSB) Ki-training. Although the basal level of hGH was not different between the two groups, during the mid-training plasma hGH levels increased by 7.26-fold (p<0.05) in the elderly trainee and by only 1.66-fold (p<0.05) in the young. In response to CDSB Ki-training IGF-I levels in the young increased significantly during mid-training but there was no significance in the elderly. Significant correlations exist between the GH and IGF-I in the young subjects, but not in the elderly. The T response to an hour of Ki-training significantly increased in the elderly subjects but no significance in the young. In conclusion, these results suggest that CDSB Ki-training is a potential method modulating of the secretion of growth factor in the young and the elderly but the elderly response does not equal to that of the young. In addition, our study shows CDSB Ki-training as one mode of therapy that is a possible intervention implacable to growth factor related disorder such as GH deficiency in children, osteoporosis in the elderly, especially women.
WEIGHT LOSS and TAI CHI
Research indicates Tai Chi burns about 280 calories per hour, nearly as much as downhill skiing. It may also stimulate metabolism in regular practitioners.
TAI CHI and AEROBIC BENEFIT
Recent medical research reveals that amazingly, the gentle low impact movements of Tai Chi offer roughly the same cardiovascular benefits of moderate impact aerobics. Making Tai Chi a perfect wellness program for the office, as the movements are so gentle they can be done in regular office attire, without requiring profuse sweating, and therefore no need to change clothes before and after, or need a shower afterward.
Mulan Tai Chi - A Feminine Art for Power and Grace. Although Mulan is a major Tai Chi form created by a woman master, women will find benefit from all the major Tai Chi styles as well.
Mulan Quan Basic Short Form - [excerpt from The Complete Idiot's Guide to T'ai Chi & Qigong]
If Mulan Quan's main benefit could be put into one word, it would be self-esteem. The artistry of its forms and the mental healing of its practice expand and enhance our self-perception. Mulan's elegant promotion of grace and agility make it perfect for women, yet great for men, too.
Mulan Quan is a rather modern form of T'ai Chi, but it is derived from an ancient, nearly extinct form of Hua Chia Quan (Hua is "flower," Chia is "frame," Quan is "fist"; together they mean "beautiful boxing style"). The Mulan Quan T'ai Chi short form comprises 24 powerful yet delicate movements that flow one into the other. This chapter introduces the first 10 movements of the Mulan style of T'ai Chi, which are also exhibited on the DVD's Exhibition of the Mulan Basic Short Form (where you can view the rest of the 24 Mulan movements as well); some are also shown in the Mulan Lesson Excerpt.
Mulan Quan Promotes Elegance and Health
The physical elegance of Mulan Quan gives the practitioner a regal appearance that is mesmerizing. The practice of its forms has a wonderful impact on its practitioners' self-esteem. However, the mental healing is just the beginning because this vehicle enhances our physical beauty as well as our physical health:
Know Your Chinese
Mulan Quan translated literally is "wooden orchid fist," which means "strong, beautiful, fist." (Mu is "wood," lan is "orchid," and quan (ch'uan) is "fist.") This style is named after the brave young woman Mulan Fa, who selflessly took her aging father's place in the war to save his life. Her story was made famous by Disney's epic animated feature Mulan.
Mulan as a beauty treatment. Mulan Quan is a highly effective beauty regimen for women. Its ability to simultaneously instill a sense of deep personal power and elegance in motion literally changes the practitioner's personality and outlook on life. This living embodiment of power, grace, and artistry actually transforms the practitioner. No external cosmetic can come close to the beauty treatment Mulan Quan offers. However, with a more beautiful being within, anything you adorn yourself with externally will be very effective.
Mulan as a healer. Mulan Quan is recommended for many ailments and chronic diseases, including obesity, heart diseases, insomnia, and lower back problems. (Chinese T'ai Chi masters often say, "You are as young as your spine is flexible.") Reports from Chinese hospitals indicate Mulan Quan has been very useful in stroke rehabilitation treatment and as an adjunct therapy for cancer patients. The Beijing Cancer Center used Mulan as a physical therapy for patients, who then saw improved appetites, weight gain, and better overall health.
For MANY more resources on Tai Chi & Qigong including free online video lessons, go to World Tai Chi & Qigong (Chi kung) Day's Homepage.