James Haggerty Recovery

Recover and Heal with Tai Chi

February 3, 2022
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Recover and Heal with Tai Chi

For centuries, Tai Chi has proven to be one of the most powerful ways to boost your physical health and mental well-being. The key to this ancient Asian tradition is harnessing your qi (pronounced ‘chee’) – or your vital energy. This scientifically-backed exercise promotes balance and health by allowing your qi to flow freely. When your qi is weak or blocked, it can cause physical and emotional problems.

Tai Chi encourages the flow of your qi. Recent research reveals that Tai Chi can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure, build strength and balance, relieve pain, and even slow the onset of dementia! Perhaps the most encouraging news is that it can help you regardless of your age or fitness level. It’s no surprise that athletes, the elderly, and everyone in between is jumping into this amazingly beneficial practice.

Start healing from head to toe with these benefits:

  • Decrease your risk of falling. The focus on balance means more agility.
  • Boost your mood. Tai Chi greatly improves mood and lowers anxiety.
  • Protect against heart disease. It strengthens your heart in several ways.
  • Engage your mind. Tai Chi sharpens your mind, reducing age-related cognitive decline.
  • Slow dementia. Practice Tai Chi is proven to slow mental symptoms associated with dementia.
  • Build confidence. Nothing builds confidence like increasing muscle and mental clarity.
  • Decrease pain. Tai Chi offers significant relief from neck, back, arthritic, and fibromyalgia pain.

If you’re currently going through recovery for substance dependency, it can be highly beneficial to have a positive outlet at your disposal. You can use this outlet to calm your mind and release the build-up of stress or tension – in a way that heals your body rather than hurts it.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for reinforcement to stay sober, it is also worth considering Tai Chi or Qigong. Either of these practices can provide you with something relaxing to devote time and energy towards during your recovery.

Balancing Yin and Yang

Balancing Yin and Yang

Tai Chi evolved from ancient martial arts, and at the practice’s core, its principles are based on Taoist belief. Taoism is an ancient philosophy that originates from China. Ultimately, Taoism emphasizes the importance of recognizing balance in our lives – or, more specifically, the balance between yin and yang.

Yin and yang are opposing forces, but they balance each other out and are complementary. It’s a bit like two sides of a single coin. Each side is necessary to create the whole object. Although these sides are opposite to one another, they are both essential to the perfect whole. Yang is associated with cerebral activity. This is the side that is linked to your mind and emotions. Alternatively, yin is connected to the physical body.

Now, at this point, the practice of Tai Chi really comes into play. By participating in Tai Chi, it is possible to balance the yin energy and the Yang energy within yourself. Once the opposing forces are balanced, the individual can relax and heal both the mind and body.

Can Tai Chi Improve Your Health?

Yes, practicing Tai Chi can effectively relieve both mental and physical pain. This makes it an excellent technique for those battling a drug or alcohol dependency. In fact, even if you decide to modify or shorten the exercises, it is still possible to receive the benefits of Tai Chi. This practice can be used to improve balance, flexibility, strength, and more. It can also help to reduce blood pressure and stress levels, which can be especially useful for those managing the stress of recovery.

What Is Qigong and How Does It Differ from Tai Chi?

Much like Tai Chi, Qigong is an ancient practice that involves moving the body in particular ways, with the ultimate objective of balancing qi and improving health. Qigong was first developed in China over 4000 years ago.

When performing Qigong, the practitioner needs to focus their mind, as well as use different whole-body movements. Again, this is remarkably similar to the practice of Tai Chi. The person practicing Qigong must also use deep-breathing techniques to help open energy pathways throughout their body, restoring balance from within.

Although Qigong and Tai Chi are both capable of creating a smoother flow of energy within the body, there is an important difference. Qigong is a less difficult practice when you take a look at the postures and movements involved.

Essentially, Tai Chi is an advanced form of Qigong. To receive maximum benefits, the practitioner must ensure that they are learning and practicing the movements correctly. Compared to Qigong, learning the art of Tai Chi takes a bit more time and discipline.

Tai Chi for Drug Rehabilitation: A Complementary Treatment

Alongside counseling and medication-assisted treatment, those in rehab for drug or alcohol dependency can often benefit from complementary treatments. These are healing strategies that can be added to your existing treatment plan. While they can’t cure your addiction on their own, they can boost the effectiveness of someone’s overall treatment strategy.

As more healthcare professionals begin to recognize its benefits, it’s becoming increasingly common to see Tai Chi as a complementary treatment option at rehabilitation centers. However, many people who start learning Tai Chi in rehab continue their practice even after they’ve completed their treatment program.

It’s important to keep in mind that Tai Chi can’t replace traditional forms of addiction treatment. If you decide to participate in Tai Chi for rehab, make sure you remain dedicated to counseling and other kinds of treatment, as well. This is the only way you can experience maximum healing.

How Can Tai Chi Help Substance Dependency?

How Can Tai Chi Help Substance Dependency?

When someone is recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction, an important part of the process is learning to reconnect with their body and mind. They must also rediscover control over these parts of themselves. During an active dependency, most sufferers feel both physically and emotionally out of control. Instead, they are being controlled by their addiction, as it compels them to perform certain damaging behaviors.

By improving one’s awareness of emotions and thoughts through Tai Chi, you might feel like you’re taking control over your own mind, body, and recovery. Feeling disconnected from your own thoughts can lead to additional stress during recovery, and with a regular Tai Chi practice, it is possible to combat that stress and cope with the challenges you’re facing.

Negative thought patterns are a common part of drug or alcohol dependency. Even after a person enters recovery, that doesn’t mean these negative patterns are going to end – even if that individual isn’t using drugs or alcohol anymore.

As you perform Tai Chi, it is far easier to step outside your own negative thoughts and emotions for the purpose of observation. You can examine these feelings from the outside, recognizing them for what they are without judgment or anxiety. From this perspective, it is simpler to combat these thoughts head-on and remind yourself why you’ve chosen recovery in the first place and why recovery is worth it, regardless of your doubts or insecurities.

In the past, you may have responded to distressing thoughts or emotions by reaching for drugs or alcohol. However, when you start practicing Tai Chi healing techniques, you can stop your reactive behaviors and begin using proactive behaviors and thoughts instead.

Tai Chi and the Reduction of Brain Damage

Alongside the aforementioned mental and emotional benefits of Tai Chi, it is possible that the practice may be capable of reversing drug-related brain damage. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), many kinds of drugs (such as heroin) can alter how chemical passengers move within the brain. Basically, the drug is imitating the chemical passengers, allowing it to disrupt healthy brain functions.

There are also substances that make the brain release excessive quantities of neurotransmitters at one time. This can lead to serious imbalances within someone’s brain. For instance, a person might experience this effect if they are dependent on cocaine or amphetamines.

In addition, brain shrinkage is a problem that some people with serious alcohol dependency can experience. Because Tai Chi may be able to increase the size of an individual’s brain, it is possible that a long-term Tai Chi practice could reverse some of this damage to the organ.

Is It Difficult to Learn Tai Chi?

Asking whether Tai Chi is “difficult” to learn might not be the right question because, at the end of the day, learning is neither hard nor easy. The ease with which someone can learn Tai Chi is dependent on the commitment and focus they’re able to put into their practice. As long as you have dedication and patience, then I don’t believe Tai Chi is hard to learn. You’ll probably even find the learning process to be a soothing and rewarding experience.

Can Tai Chi Reduce Symptoms of Anxiety or Depression?

It isn’t uncommon for those in recovery to battle mental health conditions like anxiety or depression. For the whole person to be treated, disorders like anxiety need to be treated head-on.

Interestingly enough, there’s evidence suggesting that Qigong may be an effective way to reduce anxiety disorder symptoms in those with a history of drug abuse. This is yet another reason why those in rehab can benefit from practicing Tai Chi or Qigong, especially if they are dealing with other mental illnesses.

Recovery is a Lifestyle

Recovery is a Lifestyle

When you’re trying to get sober (and stay sober), it’s useful to have an abundance of resources at your disposal. That’s exactly why I created my website – to share my recovery experiences with people in a similar situation to my own.

I regularly publish advice on recovery from substance abuse. If you’re looking to stay up to date and get informed when I make a new post, feel free to sign up for my newsletter. Recovery is a lifestyle, so let’s keep the conversation going.

Stay strong!




James Haggerty

A Time to Heal: Family Interventions offers personalized SUD Interventions, Addiction Recovery Planning, Case Management, Sober Companionship and Family Support. Call 310-450-6627 to connect with us.

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