In order to get the most out of the mind-body practice, experts are providing newcomers with a wealth of knowledge.
Balanced wellness routines may include a mix of physical and mental activities, such as HIIT workouts, yoga flows, and cardio-heavy sweat sessions, as well as mental health-enhancement activities like meditation or micro-mindfulness exercises. Tai Chi is a practice that allows you to do both at the same time, so you don’t have to choose between the two activities.
There are a lot of things to keep in mind when you’re just starting out with Tai Chi, and these professionals are here to help you get started.
What is Tai Chi?
As a kind of martial arts, Tai Chi has been practiced in China for more than three hundred years. A study published in the Journal of Sport and Health Science found that it was mostly employed as a self-defense method. According to Jesse Tsao, Ph.D., a world-renowned Tai Chi master and the founder of Tai Chi Healthways USA in San Diego, California, during the last century or more, the practice of Tai Chi has evolved into an “internal martial art” aimed at improving one’s health. Taoists may term it “meditation in motion,” which implies it’s both mind and body. Marsha Bateman of Tai Chi Health in Madison, Wisconsin says that’s what it’s called.
According to Bateman, the essence of Tai Chi is a combination of flowing, relaxing motions and a calm, concentrated mind. While your muscles and thoughts are relaxed, she explains, “you’re tranquil but yet incredibly attentive” when you’re doing this. In other words, you’re still like a mountain, but you’re flowing like a river. ” She believes the technique looks like an easy, slow-motion dance when the motions are executed in a synchronized sequence known as form. Bateman says you don’t need any special equipment to get started: All you need is comfortable clothing and a room-wide enough to spin around in. Even models like Naomi Campbell do Tai Chi, by the way.
Taijiquan’s Benefits for Beginners and the Whole Population
Enhances Grip and Stability
Consider introducing Tai Chi’s balance-enhancing exercises into your daily routine if you characterize yourself as clumsy and frequently trip over your own feet. Those who practice Tai Chi for more than a year have faster response times in their hamstring and calf muscles and can spend longer time on a balance board, which suggests superior dynamic standing balance (i.e. the capacity to remain upright while moving). According to a study published in the Journal of Sport and Health Science, Tai Chi improves physical agility, coordination, and static balance (the capacity to remain upright while immobile, such as while standing on one leg). Workout with Lupita Nyong’o puts your balance to the test.
Muscles are boosted.
According to Bateman, Tai Chi is a great way to build muscle because of its slow and steady motions. In order to see the benefits of this exercise, she recommends standing with your knees slightly bent and carefully shifting your weight from one foot to the other for an hour. This view is also backed up by research: In just four months, a 2014 research revealed that 40 minutes of Tai Chi practice six days a week enhanced lower-body strength, while a recent systematic review indicated that practicing Tai Chi with resistance training “substantially” improved upper- and lower-body muscular strength over time.
Refreshes and Uplifts Your Mood
In addition to the physical benefits, learning Tai Chi for the first time can be beneficial to your emotional well-being as well. Tai Chi has been shown to promote psychological well-being, mood, and reduce stress, anxiety, and depression in persons who consistently practice it. Because of the rising pressures on people of all ages these days, Bateman believes that practices such as Tai Chi, which may assist to calm the nervous system and increase one’s ability to focus on the positive, are beneficial.
Boosts the Qi Flow
Tsao explains that Qi (pronounced “chee”) is a vital energy that travels along “energetic corridors,” called meridian channels, that extend to your fingers and toes. According to him, your body’s yin and yang energies are represented by the red and blue meridian channels, respectively. A person’s physical or mental health might be negatively affected by an obstruction in the passage of qi, as well. However, practicing Tai Chi can assist restore this balance of yin and yang and stimulate the flow of qi, according to the University of Michigan Health, because of the gentle, repeated motions. If you haven’t tried Tai Chi yet, it’s time to give it a shot.
Taijiquan Instruction for Complete Newbies
If you’re new to Tai Chi, Bateman advises beginners to seek out an in-person session at a community center, yoga studio, or health club rather than a virtual one. If you don’t have access to an in-person teacher, an online class might serve as a suitable starting place for learning Tai Chi if you don’t have access to an in-person instructor, she adds. Follow along with Tsao’s YouTube videos for a 16-minute practice that teaches down the principles of Tai Chi for beginners, or have a look at the online courses offered by Tai Chi Health.
You will practice the basic motions on your own before merging them into a fluid sequence if you take a Tai Chi for beginners session over Zoom, adds Bateman, whether it is taught in person or over Zoom. Even if you’re just getting started, she says, even a 20-minute practice might be useful. No matter how much time you have to practice, make sure you stick to Tsao’s formula for success.
A Beginner’s Guide to Tai Chi
1. Don’t forget to keep your posture in mind when taking it easy.
As a beginner, no one expects you to recall every single move or how to seamlessly transition between them. That’s why Tsao advises novices to first focus on copying the teacher, even if they can’t simultaneously do both upper and lower body moves. Initially, you don’t need to be very coordinated, he says. “You don’t have to pay attention to my arm or hand movements if you just mimic my steps. If you can’t keep up with so many movements at once, you take the simplest one.”
During the practice, your muscles should be flexible and relaxed, yet your posture should not be neglected. Keep in mind that Tai Chi is a lot like slow dance, and it demands a strong, upright stance. Tao claims that professional ballroom dancers and Tai Chi practitioners alike do not perform slouched.
2. Make sure that your center of gravity is lower than you think it should be.
Tsao advises keeping your center of gravity as low as possible when doing Tai Chi in order to maintain your balance and avoid falling over. He tells you to do so by sinking your butt down and gently bending your knees. As he adds, “think of the weight [being] on your leg or your seat, not on the top.” (Related: The ‘Center of Gravity’ TikTok Challenge Puts People’s Balance to the Test)
3. Focus on flowing, full-body motions.
When learning Tai Chi, it’s important to keep your center of gravity low, but this doesn’t mean that your waste needs to be locked. If you want to develop a fluid movement, you need to be able to move your torso and arms and hands like silk ribbons, adds Tsao. He tells her, “We want you to be malleable and supple.”
4. It’s important to keep an eye on your qi when you’re moving.
Remember that Tai Chi’s purpose is to encourage the free flow of your inner qi, therefore you’ll need to move deliberately. Tsao clarifies, “We’re not disco — we’re not just dancing for the sake of dancing. Keep your body calm and focus on your qi rather than focusing on the exercises, advises he. The stress and anxiety can be released by just extending one’s palm out in front of one’s face. As though I were hugging my hand in, I’d think of the water and the mountains as sources of fresh air.
5. Pay attention.
Taijiquan, being a mind-body exercise, necessitates that practitioners remain focused and present. Practicing Tai Chi improves one’s mental clarity because of the intense concentration required. “You can’t have your mind on dinner plans while driving. Taiji requires a certain level of mental attention to be learned and practiced [properly].”
You may be tempted to make Tai Chi the cornerstone of your wellness program because of these benefits, but Bateman says you don’t have to limit yourself to only one kind of exercise. It’s better to look of Tai Chi as a method to liven up your daily routine and practice it once or twice a week. “Don’t give up your aerobics or anything else that makes you happy,” she advises. What you’re looking at right now may be a completely new experience for you.