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!