A Quick Guide to Tai Chi

Tai chi is a form of exercise and meditation which combines deep breathing and relaxation with flowing movements. Originally developed as a martial art in 13th-century China, tai chi is now practised around the world as a health-promoting exercise.
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Studies have shown that Tai Chi can help people to reduce stress, improve posture, balance and general mobility, and increase muscle strength in the legs. It is practiced by people of all ages, all over the world.

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Tai chi combines deep breathing and relaxation with flowing movements.

Tai chi really is for everyone. It is ideal for inactive or older people wanting to raise their activity levels gently and gradually. Also, many of the tai chi movements can be adapted to people with a disability, including wheelchair users. Tai chi is essentially a gentle activity that is unlikely to cause injury if done correctly. The exercises involve lots of flowing, easy movements that don’t stress the joints or muscles.

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The ultimate purpose of tai chi is cultivate the qi or life energy within us to flow smoothly and powerfully throughout the body. Total harmony of the inner and outer self comes from the integration of mind and body, empowered through healthy qi through the practice of tai chi.

The flowing movements of tai chi contain much inner strength, like water flowing in a river, beneath the tranquil surface there is a current with immense power—the power for healing and wellness. With consistent practice, people will be able to feel the internal energy (qi), convert it to internal force (jing) and use it to generate more internal energy. This process would greatly enhance tai chi development, leading to a more balanced mental state; at the same time your fitness, agility and balance will improve. The unique feature of tai chi is that it is internal. Internal means building the inner strength from inside out, therefore you can continue to develop at any age.

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Tai chi is one of the most effective exercises for health of mind and body

How do I begin?

It’s a good idea to watch a class or attend a free taster session before signing up for a course. If you have a medical condition or any health concerns, or haven’t exercised for a long time, speak to your GP before you start tai chi. You can use our search to find Tai Chi classes near you.

Tai chi has a number of different styles, such as yang, chen and wu. Some teachers often practise a combination of styles. The main differences between the different tai chi styles are in the speed of movement and the way the body holds the postures.

Tai chi is characterised by its slow, graceful, continuous movements that are gentle on the joints and muscles. Done correctly, you’ll find that the tai chi poses flow smoothly from one into another. Many movements are completed with bent knees in a squat-like position.

Tell us about your experiences with Tai Chi – have you tried it, was it easy to learn? Did it help with any of your ailments?

Andrew R
Author: Andrew R