Do you fancy a workout that is slow, yet powerful? Find out all about Tai Chi exercises.
Slow but impactful Tai Chi exercises get your blood flowing and promote your holistic well-being.
We describe the art of Tai Chi and share a few simple workouts that you can do at home.
What is Tai Chi?
Tai Chi or Tai Chi Quan is an ancient martial art that people practice for self-defense and health. It works on the premise of Yin and Yang, related to a set of movements.
Tai Chi began as a martial art, but people now perform it for many purposes, well-being in particular. As such, many forms of it exist, and some of them involve slow moves.
Tai Chi has spread worldwide today. Most modern forms of it have their origins in one of the five traditional schools of Chen, Wu Hao Wu, and Sun. One can trace their practices to the family which founded them.
Many new styles have developed since their evolution. These are offshoots of the five standard forms. Others include Zhaobao Taijiquan, a cousin of the Chen style but recognized by western practitioners as distinct.
There is also the Fu form, created by Fu Che.n Song, an evolution of the Chen, Sun, and Yang styles. It also used movements from Pa Kus Chang.
Most forms of Tai Chi originate from the Chen style, a secret that the Chen Family passed down for generations. The family credits Chen Wanting, of its 9th generation, as the founder of modern Taijiquan.
Choy Hok Fang, who learned the art from practitioner Yang Chengfu, was the first exponent to practice it openly in the United States. His son and student, Choy Kum Man, emigrated to San Francisco from Hong Kong and taught Tai Chi until his death in 1994.
Practicing Tai Chi Exercises
What does the practice of Tai Chi entail? Here’s what you must do to perform the art successfully.
What you should do before taking a class
1. Check with your doctor
If you have musculoskeletal problems, your doctor may have given you medication that makes you lightheaded. Ask him or her if practicing Tai Chi is advisable for you.
2. Observe a class
Observing, then taking a class is one of the best ways to learn Tai Chi. With group support and feedback, learning Tai Chi isn’t daunting. You may ask about classes at your senior center or other locations in your area.
3. Have a chat with the instructor.
There is no standard licensing or accreditation for Tai Chi instructors, so you will have to exercise discretion when looking for one. Seek recommendations from your doctor or friends who attend Tai Chi classes.
4. Wear comfortable clothes
Wear loose-fitting clothing that allows you freedom of movement. Your shoes should be light, flexible, and comfortable. Make sure that they have a firm grip so that you will not slip.
5. Track your progress
Most Tai Chi programs last for 12 weeks. You should know if you enjoy the art by that time and would experience positive psychological and physical changes.
Things to do when taking a class
6. Warming up
Warm up by centering yourself and breathing well. As with all martial arts, Tai Chi isn’t about successful fighting. Instead, it is about clearing the mind. Proper breathing will help you focus your Tai Chi.
Focus on all parts of your body, one at a time. Once you can do this, relax every part of your body.
Begin with the feet and work your way to the top of your head. Focus on tiny parts of your body, like your fingernails, if you wish. You will release pent-up tension. Adjust your stance if you start to sway. Find your balance and steady yourself.
One of the essential elements of Tai Chi is staying rooted. Imagine roots growing out of your toes. Tell yourself that you are part of the ground. Keep centered and don’t lose focus.
You should feel your limbs swaying like the wind, unhesitating and secure. However, you aren’t stiff. Instead, you have freedom of movement because you are rooted.
9. Experiment with the different styles
All Tai Chi exercises promote well-being, so you should do any instead of worrying which suits you. Once you become immersed in the art, experiment with each of them.
The Chen style has an erratic rhythm, varying between slow and explosive beats.
The most well-received is the Yang style, which has a steady tempo. It utilizes large movements. It is the best-known Tai Chi form today.
The Wu form uses tiny movements. It focuses on energy flows and slow, deliberate moves.
The Mental and Physical Benefits of Tai Chi Exercises
Tai Chi has positive outcomes for mortality and overall health. Here are the benefits of the art.
1. Live Longer
First of all, research has unveiled that Tai Chi is a moderate intensity-exercise that promotes longevity. Those who practice it five to six hours a week gain the most benefits.
2. Improves Flexibility
A review of elderly patients found that Tai Chi found that it has psychological and cognitive benefits. It also encourages balance, strength, cardiovascular, and respiratory functions.
3. Boosts Cognition
Cognitive decline affects older adults, many of whom have Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia. Evidence supports that adults who practice Tai Chi improve their cognitive and memory functions.
4. Reduced COPD symptoms
An Australian study revealed that Sun-style Tai Chi boosted a practitioner’s capacity for exercise and reduced the symptoms of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). They added that it has effects on a person’s endurance.
5. Better Sleep
A 2016 pilot trial evaluated the benefits of Qigong and found that it enhances the night-time sleep quality of practitioners. They made gains regarding sleep efficiency and mental health.