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The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi: 12 Weeks to a Healthy Body, Strong Heart, and Sharp Mind (Harvard Health Publications) Paperback – April 9, 2013
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Tai chi can be described as “meditation in motion.” Blending low to moderate aerobic activity with meditation, tai chi offers health benefits with only a minimal risk of injury. Rewards of tai chi may include greater flexibility and range of motion, increased coordination, better breathing, and more efficient posture. It is a useful exercise in preventing falls. It also improves balance and movement in people with Parkinson’s disease. As scientific research on this training regimen moves forward, tai chi might prove valuable in other ways, such as managing chronic pain and enhancing mood. Authors Wayne (a Harvard Medical School researcher and tai chi practitioner-teacher) and Fuerst (a medical writer) distill the essence of tai chi into eight active ingredients: awareness, intention, structural integration, active relaxation, strengthening and flexibility, natural breathing, social support, and embodied spirituality. They also present a practical, simplified 12-week tai chi training program that requires 45–60 minutes per day. Photographs illustrating poses and exercises are included. Tai chi is an intriguing form of mind-body exercise that can readily be integrated into routine daily activities. --Tony Miksanek
“The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi is a significant milestone in the integration of Eastern and Western medicine. It deftly summarizes the scientific evidence for the healing potential of this traditional Chinese system of body movement and gives readers practical advice for using it in everyday life. I recommend it highly.”—Andrew Weil, MD, Professor of Medicine, University of Arizona, and author of 8 Steps to Optimum Health
“Dr. Wayne gives us a magnificent and useful contribution for the betterment of our health and well-being through the proper integration of Tai Chi into our lives.”—Herbert Benson, MD, author of The Relaxation Response and Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
“Peter Wayne is that rare individual who is sufficiently ‘bilingual’ to introduce Tai Chi to a largely open-minded yet skeptical medical community and to sensitively and movingly celebrate its timeless poetry, power, and appeal. This is a book for all to learn from and enjoy.”—David Eisenberg, MD, Harvard School of Public Health and the Samueli Institute, and Former Chief of the Division of Research and Education in Complementary and Integrative Medical Therapies, Harvard Medical School
“Evidence has shown that unhealthy lifestyle is the cause of most if not all chronic conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, and heart disease. Dr. Wayne’s book, with his expertise in medical research and Tai Chi, is a significant step towards modernizing Tai Chi—essential to making Tai Chi a central part of practical and effective solutions to the epidemic of chronic disease.”—Dr. Paul Lam, director of the Tai Chi for Health Institute and author of Teaching Tai Chi Effectively and Tai Chi for Beginners
“Peter Wayne has long been a leader in scientific research into how Tai Chi boosts health and well-being. In this brilliant book, he blends rigorous Western science with Eastern wisdom to present an illuminating and thoroughly modern view of a wonderful, life-enhancing art. I recommend it highly to anyone interested in Tai Chi, from novice to advanced practitioner.”—Yang Yang, PhD, director, Center for Taiji and Qigong Studies, and author of Taijiquan: The Art of Nurturing, The Science of Power
“Highly readable and deeply informative. . . . This book has the potential of once and for all dispelling any lingering myths that Tai Chi and Qigong, and Western science’s growing understanding of its uses, are anything less than a profound health revolution that can help prevent or treat the majority of health challenges, and ultimately may save society hundreds of billions if not trillions in future annual health care costs. The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi may well be that point we look back to and say, ‘That was the tipping point that unleashed the building wave of Tai Chi, which has now transformed modern health care.’”—Bill Douglas, founder of World Tai Chi & Qigong Day and author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to T’ai Chi & QiGong
Top customer reviews
Wayne is an excellent writer. He presents Tai Chi from all angles in his Eight Active Ingredients of Tai Chi model. Seems right on to me. I enjoy Tai Chi for many reasons, physical, mental, social, spiritual (using that term in a non-supernatural sense). I'm open to the farther-out Chinese medicine side of Tai Chi, filled with talk of qi, meridians, subtle energy flows, and such, but don't find that a belief in all this is necessary to enjoy my practice.
So I really like how Wayne looks at Tai Chi from both a scientific, rational, research-based point of view, and also from an experiential, intuitive, practice-based point of view. Like Tai Chi and the Taoist philosophy to which it is strongly related, this book harmonizes seeming yin-yang opposites appealingly.
I'm only several chapters into the book, but wanted to share a review ASAP because I'm enjoying it so much. I've read quite a few books about Tai Chi, most of which are much more traditional in style and substance. "The Harvard Medical School to Tai Chi" is unique. It will be enjoyed by Tai Chi beginners and old-timers alike, including those who aren't interested in taking a class but still want to explore what Tai Chi has to offer.
Wayne presents old concepts and practices in fresh ways. I heartily agree that introducing people to Tai Chi by having them learn a lengthy form (standard sequence of movements) can be intimidating for many. When I started learning Tai Chi, I'd already had about a dozen years of intensive training in karate and another hard style martial art, where I learned many lengthy kata (forms).
Yet initially I was baffled by the Tai Chi "24" form, one of the most basic. The moves and transitions are tricky, whether or not someone has done other sorts of movement training before. Thus Wayne's presentation of a Simplified Tai Chi Program, with a focus on simple stand-alone movements, is a great idea.
Tai Chi needs to be part of a person's daily life, not just something to be practiced a few times a week in a class. Wayne says that Tai Chi will change the way we pick up heavy objects, walk along a sidewalk, engage in conversation (or an argument) with somebody, and so much else. Absolutely.
I've taken up longboarding (on a elongated skateboard) at the age of 64. Reading Wayne's description of "pouring" from one side of the body to the other made me better realize how akin moving on a longboard/skateboard is to Tai Chi movements. Continuously carving in an "S" fashion down an asphalt trail with linked turns on my longboard bears a lot of resemblance to what Wayne calls "pouring."
The more fluid we can be, the more like water, the better our Tai Chi becomes. Also, the better our life becomes. Read this book. You will benefit from it.