After teaching and playing tai chi for so many years, it dawned on me the other day that there are so many different ways to practice tai chi. Perhaps it was a student who asked or maybe it was just one of those sudden realizations that brought this notion to the forefront of my thinking. So many times when we practice we take the approach that we have to improve, we have to try hard or we have to learn something new. Those are all good things, yes, but on the other hand, we also have to enjoy ourselves, relax and get some exercise.
So let’s stop and think about how many different ways you can practice tai chi based on what kind of mood you are in. If you’re feeling strong and need some exercise maybe you practice your form in a bit lower set, bending the knees more; or maybe you practice your form using a bit more energy and speed, feeling like you are releasing like fajing. If you’re feeling tired and stressed, perform your tai chi slowly and with intense focus on your breathing. You can increase your concentration by focusing on various aspects of your form, like extending postures, stretching the spine, maintaining ward-off energy, paying attention to your footwork or creating an imaginary opponent.
Let’s face it, there are as many different ways to practice tai chi as there are different styles and forms. So don’t be so bound by the tai chi principles that you are afraid to be creative with your own practice by expressing your mood. After all, tai chi is a dance, and dance is a means of self expression. Try something different and share it with your fellow players!
What benefits do you get from tai chi? A: There is a camaraderie that you develop with your classmates when you learn and practice the form. The Tai Chi instructors and other classmates are engaging and supportive and it is uplifting to be part of this environment.
How has tai chi helped you? A: From a physician standpoint, it has helped with improved balance, a stronger core and improved range of motion. From a mental standpoint it has helped with improved balance as well as stress reduction. In attending Tai Chi classes I have learned about the applications of the physical practice to real life situations and it has helped me to become a more patient person.
Here are a couple tai chi student testimonials:
“I have always wanted to learn Tai Chi. I would see people doing it, and it looked so lyrical; poetic. I have been lucky to have (the Wellness Center instructors) teach me…. It is the one class I feel brings me inner peace and serenity. I cannot think about anything else while concentrating on the Tai Chi moves, which is good. It has been a great blessing to learn and I hope to continue to learn and improve with time.”
“When I practice Tai Chi at home, stiff joints loosen up and I feel grounded as my mind settles into the movements. It brings me to a state of calm alertness. Tai Chi is a mental workout as well as a physical one.”
Come join us to celebrate World Tai Chi Day 2015. We are celebrating at RWJ Hamilton Fitness & Wellness on Saturday, April 25th from noon to 1pm (due to studio availability we cannot start at 10 am). Please visit my site for more information www.taichilee.com