Tai Chi has a long and significant history in China, both as a martial art for self-defense and as a way to ensure continued good health. Today, we’ll talk about Tai Chi in its more popular form, as an exercise that suits a variety of bodies with varying levels of health.
Tai Chi is sometimes called meditation in motion. As with yoga, there is an emphasis on breathing and on being aware of your body as it moves through space. If you’ve ever watched a Tai Chi class, you see that it looks almost like it’s done in slow motion. The movements in Tai Chi are low-impact.
The gentle movements mean that your muscles and joints are not overly taxed. There is even Tai Chai for Arthritis.Unlike other healthy activities like running and team sports, there is a very low risk of injury associated with Tai Chi.
You can get started by watching any number of introductory videos online, such as this or this or this one, which is an intensive introduction. There are different styles, and you may find that different instructors, or a particular style of Tai Chi will work better for you. Don’t be afraid to experiment.
You see that you don’t need any special equipment or clothing. Just something loose fitting that you can move comfortably in. You don’t even need a lot of space if you are practicing Tai Chi on your own. Tai Chi videos are often shot outdoors in beautiful scenery, which is very inspiring. But you can also do it in front of your computer or TV screen in your home. Anywhere. Anytime.
If you decide to attend a Tai Chi class, expect to start with warm-ups that will help relax and loosen your muscles and begin to focus you on your breath and on your body, cutting out external distractions.
Tai Chi is practiced in forms, which are collections of movements, like a script. Short forms many have fewer than 10 or 12 movements. Long forms can have over a hundred. Naturally, beginners should look for short forms with slower and smaller movements. This is especially true if you’re not in peak physical condition.
A class will typically end with some breath work, sometimes called Qigong. It could be breathing combined with gentle movements designed to relax you at the end of class. As with Tai Chi, Qigong can be done while standing, sitting or even lying down.
Tai Chi offers benefits in one’s level of energy, balance and improved muscle tone. In 12 weeks of practice, you can expect to have improved muscle strength, flexibility and balance.
Author: Rebeca Espinoza