Tai Chi is an exotic exercise that is a great choice for those who would like to explore the history of Eastern health and fitness, and build strength and flexibility at the same time.
Tai chi is also thought by practitioners to have spiritual and mental health benefits, so that’s an added bonus!
What Is Tai Chi?
Tai Chi is an ancient type of Chinese martial art, which has its roots in both Taoist and Confucian Chinese philosophy. Primarily, it focuses on health benefits, like emphasizing proper posture, strong abdominal breathing, and maintaining and encouraging flexibility in the joints and muscles.
What Is The History Of Tai Chi?
Tai Chi has been practiced in one form or another in China for centuries, but it first got its start in America in the 1930s, when a man named Choy Hok Pang began teaching. Throughout the following decades, this exercise became more well-recognized, thanks in part to a man named Zheng Manqing who began teaching it in New York in the 1960s.
What Type Of Exercise Is Tai Chi?
Today’s form of Tai Chi is primarily practiced without a partner, and consists of numerous “forms” or taoulu. These movements are intended to teach proper balance, natural range of motion of the center of gravity, and strengthening of the arms and joints. It also incorporates breathing exercises. Depending on the form of Tai Chi you practice, it may have anywhere from 24-108 forms, though 37-form Tai Chi is the most common in America.
Preparing For Tai Chi
No special equipment is required to practice Tai Chi, so simply wear comfortable athletic clothing, and a pair of sneakers or running shoes. Tai chi is often practiced in group settings, but can also be practiced on your own with the help of video instruction. It can be practiced either inside or outside, depending on your preferences.
Practicing Tai Chi
Practicing Tai Chi primarily focuses on moving through each “form” and using proper posture for each one. Tai Chi beginners may move through 10-20 forms in a session, while more advanced practitioners may do many more movements.
The Basics Of Tai Chi – Watch This Video Tutorial
To learn more about basic Tai Chi exercises and forms, the above video is a great resource. As you master these basic forms, you can start adding more forms onto your own practice. We also recommend trying out some group classes, as they can be very fun and help you refine your technique under instruction.
The Benefits Of Tai Chi
Traditionally, Tai Chi is thought to unblock your “qi” or natural life force that flows through your body, and to help balance the “yin” and “yang” of your body and keep it harmonized.
While these spiritual elements of Tai Chi can’t be clinically proven, it has been shown that Tai Chi has some proven health and fitness benefits. It has been shown to help reduce accidental falls in seniors. Because it is a very low-impact, gentle exercise, it’s also ideal for people who have chronic health issues like COPD, osteoarthritis, and heart failure.
Tai Chi Variations
There are many different styles and variations of Tai Chi, and most Western Tai Chi utilizes moves from multiple different schools.
One major variation of Tai Chi is called tuishou (pushing hands) and consists of partner-based Tai Chi exercises. This type of Tai Chi is more focused on martial arts, and focuses on redirecting motion, enhancing reflexes, and building better timing and coordination.
Tai Chi is also often practiced in swimming pools, as this helps minimize impact further. This type of Tai Chi is very popular with older seniors.
Give Tai Chi A Try Today
This exotic fitness activity is easy to learn, and you don’t need any special equipment – or even any classes – to learn the basics. Give it a try now, and see if Tai Chi fits into your own fitness routine.