Tai chi is practiced as a series of graceful motions that flow smoothly into one another while the body is held straight and upright. The continuous movements are gentle and circular, exercising every part of the body equally. The movements are performed slowly and with meditative concentration.
The goal of this ancient Chinese martial art is to cultivate and increase the circulation of “chi” or life energy. Practitioners believe that the free circulation of chi improves health by permitting the blood to circulate freely and by creating balance in the body’s systems.
Tai chi is suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels. It is a low impact activity and the level of difficulty can be readily adjusted for the participants.
Take a look at a book or video so that you can become familiar with the various types of Tai chi. If you like what you see, visit some schools and make sure the teachers are experienced. Proper training generally takes eight years.
Tai chi takes time and practice. A “form,” or sequence of continuous movements, can include 60 positions and take up to six months to learn. It might take an additional six months to perfect it. Because practice makes perfect, you should also practice on your own. Tai chi can be done just about anywhere, in class, at home, or outside, as there is no special equipment necessary.
In tai chi you learn how to relax even while you are maintaining a strong posture and performing demanding moves. While the controlled motions require plenty of muscle strength, it is typically the lower body that gets a good workout. You can build very strong legs with the leg bending, leg lifts, and lunges.
Tai chi develops concentration, reduces stress, increases muscular endurance and improves posture, balance, coordination, and flexibility.
Tai chi dramatically reduces the risk of falling among the elderly and recent studies have shown that it can also significantly improve flexibility and mobility for people with osteoarthritis.
Warming Up and Cooling Down
Since tai chi classes usually include warm-up stretches, you won’t need to do so on your own. And because it is a fairly gentle exercise, it doesn’t require a cool-down. However, you can stretch your entire body after class when your muscles are warm and pliable. This will help to improve your flexibility.
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