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Tai Chi

The Ultimate Guide to Tai Chi for Beginners

holistic health tai chi Jul 07, 2021

Many people want to get healthier and reduce stress levels, but they don't know where to begin. 

Hundreds of years after its invention, tai chi continues to be a form practiced by millions worldwide.

The truth is that tai chi can help you become more physically fit and improve your health in many different ways.

By reading this blog post, you will learn about the history of tai chi and how it works, and what benefits you can expect from practicing regularly.

You'll also find a great resource at the end that will teach you everything else you need to know about getting started with tai chi today!

What is Tai Chi?

Tai chi is ancient Chinese martial arts and self-defense practice that has been around for 2000 years. It is known for its slow, flowing movements designed to promote relaxation and balance while strengthening the body.

Today tai chi has become widely known for helping with many different health conditions and as a low-impact exercise rather than a self-defense technique.

Tai chi is often called "meditation in motion" because it's ability to center and focus people on the present moment.

It is also known as Taiji or Tai Chi Chuan (Taijiquan), so don't be confused if you see these names interchanged when someone is writing about tai chi!

Can anybody practice Taiji?

Yes! Tai chi is an excellent exercise for people of all ages, shapes, and sizes. Tai chi can be practiced anytime or place as long as you have enough space to move around comfortably.

It's also open to anyone, no matter their physicality, gender identity, nationality, or cultural background!

It is often recommended to people with physical limitations because they can practice Tai Chi while seated.

Tai Chi can also help balance problems or ailments such as arthritis. This is because it focuses on movement and stretching without using fast motions to worsen a person's condition.

Tai Chi is also open to people who have never exercised before because Tai Chi focuses on fluidity and flexibility in movements rather than muscle building.

What are the health benefits of Tai Chi?

The benefits of tai chi are numerous. 

##11 of the most critical ways tai chi movements can improve your quality of life are:

 

  1. Tai Chi strengthens the joints
  2. Tai Chi improves physical balance
  3. Tai Chi can help reduce stress, depression, and anxiety
  4. Tai Chi can help lower blood pressure
  5. Tai Chi can help improve breathing
  6. Tai Chi improves flexibility
  7. Tai Chi helps increase bone density and reduces the risk of osteoporosis
  8. It also has been shown to reduce the symptoms of menopause
  9. Tai Chi can help enhance the quality of sleep
  10. Tai Chi can reduce chronic pain
  11. Tai Chi improves blood circulation, which can lead to a reduction in the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack

Tai Chi is a popular way to build strength and balance through its slow, gentle, and flowing movements. It's prevalent amongst the older population or anyone who is looking for a low-impact exercise. In addition, Tai chi can help those with arthritis pain and other joint problems manage their symptoms. 

Tai chi also helps improve cognitive function in people. For example, research has shown that tai chi can help improve memory and the ability to concentrate.

Tai chi can help with balance problems or physical disabilities such as arthritis. It focuses on stretching without using fast movements that can be dangerous for someone who has a bad knee and needs to avoid high-impact activity like running or weight training.

It's also been shown that tai chi helps those with Parkinson's disease manage their symptoms.

Tai chi has also been shown in research to help those with anxiety or depression by improving mood and reducing stress levels, which is always a good thing!

Which is better, yoga or Taiji Chuan?

Yoga and tai chi are similar in exercise and health benefits but also have many differences.

Tai chi is an ancient Chinese martial art practiced today for its positive impact on people's health. At the same time, yoga is a system of physical postures with a history in Hinduism to improve strength, flexibility, calmness, and concentration.

The exercises share some similarities: tai chi and yoga focus on breathing and address energy flow in the body.

Yoga focuses more on the chakra system, and Tai Chi believes in opening up Qi or what is considered our "life force."

When discussing which is better, this is a subjective answer. However, yoga has grown more popular over the years, and it will be easier to find a variety of class types that fit all types of wants and needs.

However, with more and more fitness moving online, it's easier than ever to find a Tai Chi class that you can try for a small cost or even free.

Tai Chi has the added benefit that it can be done from a seated position for increased support. In addition, the movements are more gentle and put little stress on muscles and joints.

What are the basic tai chi movements for beginners?

There are many forms for tai chi, and each one is considered either a "long-form" or "short form."

Traditional Tai Chi forms would be in the "long-forms" category, while people who practice more modern forms of Tai Chi would most likely take "short forms" classes.

The most popular style would be based on Yang 24 style as it is easy if your looking for Tai chi for beginners.

The tai chi movements are broken into 24 different steps.

Yang 24 Style Steps are:

  1. Commencing
  2. Parting the Horse's Mane
  3. White Crane Spreads its Wings
  4. Brush Knee
  5. Playing the Lute
  6. Repulsing the Monkey
  7. Grasping the Bird's Tail on the Right
  8. Grasping the Bird's Tail on the Left
  9. Single Whip
  10. Cloud Hands
  11. Single Whip
  12. High Pat on the Horse
  13. Kick Out with the Right Heel
  14. Double Punch
  15. Turn, Kick Out with the Left Heel
  16. The serpent in the Grass on the Right, Golden Cockerel Stands on its Left Leg
  17. The serpent in the Grass on the Left, Golden Cockerel Stands on its Right Leg
  18. Maiden Working the Shuttles
  19. Needle at the Bottom of the Sea
  20. Flash Arms like a Fan
  21. Turn, Deflect, Parry and Punch
  22. Apparent Closing and Push
  23. Cross Hands
  24. Closing

How do I get started with taiji?

There are many tai chi instructors and classes available online. Taking a low to no-cost online tai chi class is a great beginning for your tai chi journey.

If you are looking for something in person, you could simply Google copy/paste "Tai Chi classes near me" into Google.

It's always important to consult your medical doctor before starting any new exercise if you have any health conditions.

Is Qigong a form of Taiji Chuan?

Qigong focuses on breathing exercises, meditation, and relaxation movements. It originates about 4000 years ago in China.

Qigong also is not technically tai chi, but it has been incorporated with tai chi classes in some places.

While tai chi is focused on a series of movements for a more full-bodied exercise, qigong is more focused on "prescriptive movement." Meaning, qigong exercises focus on different parts of the body and situations. As a result, they can repeat the same movement multiple times in a row and be static.

Qigong has been described as "the inner work" of tai chi and focuses on getting the qi-energy moving throughout the body to increase health and wellbeing.

Tai chi also is better resistance training than qigong which makes tai chi better for building muscle and core strength.

What does Taiji do for your body?

As mentioned earlier, Tai Chi is excellent resistance training that leads to many physical benefits such as muscle growth and core strength.

Tai Chi is a very convenient physical exercise because it's done at a slow pace and with less aggressive movement.

Tai chi can lead to many physical benefits such as: 

  • Muscle growth
  • Core Strength (stronger stomach muscles)
  • Lesser injury risk
  • Better posture (comes with doing the exercises)
  • Weight loss due to increased muscle mass and slower metabolism
  • Relief from chronic pain

Tai chi may also lead to many mental benefits such as:

  • Enhanced memory
  • Increased concentration and focus.
  • Reduced stress levels
  • Enhanced mood and energy
  • Reduced anxiety and depression
  • Increased self-awareness.

Do you need equipment?

One of the best things about tai chi is that there is little to no equipment you need to invest in to take a class and practice.

Two pieces of equipment that can benefit your tai chi training are:

  1. Comfortable shoes
  2. Comfortable clothes

Shoes should be non-slip to prevent falls and provide enough flexibility in the material. Hence, you have freedom of motion in your ankles.

Clothes should be loose-fitting on your body and easy to move around in. Since tai chi training focuses on continuous movements, your choice of clothes must allow you to stay in the flow.

If you choose to practice more advanced/traditional forms with a martial arts emphasis, you may want to invest in weapons such as a sword for practice.

However, if you are going to practice with a weapon, please learn from a trained professional and have proper supervision.

How long does it take to learn taiji?

Tai chi is more of a journey than it is a destination. However, most people want to learn tai chi for about 30-36 class hours to learn basic movements, according to the Tai Chi Foundation.

Although this is to feel confident with beginner moves, most people who begin this health exercise can see immediate benefits and improved quality of mood and fitness.

Should you include other exercises alongside taiji?

Tai chi is a beautiful and gentle health exercise that you can do well into your golden years.

However, some who wish to practice may want to use it as a warm-up or cool down with other fitness programs.

Tai chi can help warm up your cardiovascular system by focusing on breathing and stretching your muscles.

It can also be a cooling-down exercise that helps you cool off from other more vigorous fitness routines like running, biking, or lifting.

Conclusion

There are many health benefits of tai chi, including (but not limited to) a more robust immune system and improved mental health. 

This ancient Chinese martial art is also good for your body. It promotes better balance and flexibility, leading to injury prevention. In addition, Tai chi has evidence it being effective in lowering blood pressure and reducing anxiety levels.

We're hopeful that this guide has given you a better understanding of what tai chi is and the many benefits it can offer. 

With so much evidence proving the positive effects of the art of gentle tai chi in our lives, why not give it a try?

We offer a free 10-minute flow experience video with expert Tai Chi instructor and trainer David-Dorian Ross. This video will quickly get you experiencing the excellent benefits of gentle Tai Chi. Click on the link and enter your email, and you will instantly be delivered this gift to your inbox.

Don't hesitate and learn tai chi today!

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