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512TAlV2k1L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_The movement arts have come a long way since they were first introduced into Western society. The Eastern and Western approaches to health maintenance have traditionally been much different. In Eastern theory our bodies produce and use natural energies to help heal the body, to reduce tensions, and to keep the body healthy. In the West the approach is usually much different. Instead of using the body's internal force Western doctors have used external influences to change physical conditions. This is accomplished in numerous ways, such as pharmaceuticals, radiation and impact therapies.

But one of the researchers that became intensely curious about Tai Chi is Dr. Peter Wayne. Dr. Wayne is a researcher at Harvard University and thought that any medical treatment that has been successful for more than 3,000 years in China must have some validity. He helped establish the Tai Chi and a Mind-Body Research Program at Harvard Medical School's Osher Research Center and began studying the art for medical applications. The discoveries made by Dr. Wayne's team, and other research efforts across North America and Europe, were astounding. Not only does regularly practicing Tai Chi and other movement arts improve things like anxiety and depression (Tai Chi is also known as "the meditation of movement") but also for the treatment of a number of physiological conditions such as Crone's Disease, Parkinson's Disease and even cardiovascular problems.

But what makes Tai Chi so effective in dealing with these problems? The answer is simply simplicity. Tai Chi encourages the body to heal itself in a gentle, natural way. Experts in the Arts have known for millennia that many of the medical problems that we develop over time come about because the channels that bring energy throughout our bodies are blocked. When we clear these channels though slow gentle movements working in harmony with our focused breathing and intention, the energy itself will begin to heal our bodies and improve our perception of our world.

The process begins with easy motions like shoulder circles and standing mediation. These exercises help to loosen the muscles and joints while focusing our breathing with our movements. Instead of forcing our muscles to perform certain exercises Tai Chi teaches students to get in touch with the problem spots around our body and to channel our energy to that spot. Studies, including Dr. Wayne's work, have shown conclusively that students, regardless of their physical condition, show improvements in sometimes less than six weeks, assuming 3 one hour sessions per week.