The ancient art of Tai Chi moves is translated in Chinese as “Supreme Ultimate Fist.” This Chinese martial art originated many centuries ago, but is still popular today. Tai chi is deeply rooted in Chinese meditation, and it combines mental focus with controlled movements that are designed to challenge the body.
Tai chi, pronounced “tie chee,” aims at increasing of what the Chinese call “Qi” (pronounced “chi”). To the Chinese, qi energy is responsible for calming the mind, increasing longevity, and sustaining good health.
The calculated movements of Tai Chi are slow, repetitive, and designed to synchronize the body and mind together.
Where to Find Tai Chi Instruction
Since its early inception, Tai Chi has been widely taught and practiced by many people. There are several forms of Tai Chi and numerous schools that concentrate on a variety of methods. However, most classes will teach the movements that are based on 13 foundational Tai Chi postures.
When you’re looking for a Tai Chi class, you may want to consider what your goals are. There are some schools that will emphasize self defense and competition, while some will concentrate on the health and meditation benefits of Tai Chi.
You may also want to consider a class that has a low teacher to student ratio. A dedicated teacher will help you stay on track and will be able to spend more time with you.
Benefits of Tai Chi
Here are some of the benefits of Tai Chi:
1. Health Benefits
Tai chi has become popular in community centers, gyms, and health clubs across America. This low impact type of training provides practitioners with a sense of peace, better digestive health, increased flexibility, improved strength, increased coordination, and lower blood pressure.
2. Better Sleep
According to the Mayo Clinic, the combination of Tai Chi movements and mental concentration can start to provide benefits almost immediately. Tai chi participants have reported better sleep within the first couple of days.
3. Reduce Stress
One of the most significant benefits that frequent practice of Tai Chi can bring is stress reduction. Stress has been known to cause a wide array of medical problems for people.
Dr. Warren D. Conner, founder of the T’ai Chi Ch’uan Study Center of the Washington D.C., Metro Area explained that the basic principles of Tai Chi emphasize learning to relax and deep breathing. According to Dr. Conner, these 2 reasons alone make Tai Chi worth doing.
4. Burns Calories Safely
The low impact nature of Tai Chi allows many people with joint problems and other injuries a safer way to burn calories. According to a study completed by Harvard University, a 185 pound person burns 178 calories in just 30 minutes of Tai Chi participation.
5. Helps Chronic Conditions
A frequent Tai Chi routine can also help reduce the severity of many chronic conditions. Tai chi has been shown to help people with the following ailments: high blood pressure, diabetes, fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, and heart problems.
Get Started with These Tai Chi Moves
Given below are some of the popular Tai Chi moves:
1. The Horse Stance
This is the basic stance in Tai Chi. During this posture, you should look like you were sitting on the saddle of a horse.
To get into the stance, stand with your feet parallel to each other and at shoulder width apart.
Bend your knees slightly and try to lengthen your spine by imagining a string holding your head up erect.
Lift your arms out in front of you with your palms facing in, as if you were hugging a large tree.
When standing in this position, concentrate on inhaling and exhaling deeply.
2. Repulse Monkey
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and turn your shoulders and head over your left hip. With both hands at your side, step back with your left foot behind your right leg.
In this position, raise your hands level with your shoulders, and face both palms up.
Unwind your legs and stand normal. As you unwind, allow left hand to rotate back in unison with your left shoulder. Repeat the same movement with the opposite side of your body.
3. Cloud Hands
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and face straight ahead. Place both arms to the left side of your body with palms facing up and your right arm on top of the left. In this position, move your arms up as if you were opening a window.
When you are moving your arms, your body will be twisted to the left at the hips. Repeat this same movement on the right side of your body.
4. Awaking Chi
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. With your hands at your hips and palms facing up, inhale deeply as you bring your palms up to your chest. Exhale as you turn your palms down and lower them back to your hips.
This is just a sample of the many Tai Chi moves that are available to participants. During all the Tai Chi exercises, remember to concentrate on your breathing. A qualified Tai Chi instructor will assist greatly in the understanding and execution of these movements. Through dedication and training, you will become the master of your own “qi,” or at least feel better in the process.