Tai Chi for Beginners

tai chiLearning Tai Chi is not a quick process. Just like exercise, you can’t learn it in a short time and reap the benefits immediately. It would actually take a long time before you begin to “get it.” Despite of this, the learning process is fascinating, and by following these tips you would reap Tai Chi’s maximum effect.

Tai Chi is about repetition – Once you have learned a move, practice it further until you get the hang of it. Then, add a new move a few days later. Practice the two moves together, then learn a new form, and so on. The more you practice the repetition, the more your body become in tune with it, eventually doing the moves like the back of your hand.

It begins at concentrating on the mechanics – Once the repetition has allowed you to free your mind from this, you can concentrate on the breathing, and on allowing your mind to become clearer. Eventually you can analyze your movements, fine tune them, and perfect them.

Always keep your head straight – Keep your sight at eye level, avoiding your head to go low or fall forward. Keeping your head straight actually aids your balance.

Keep your back straight – This applies on movements that do not require bending your back. If your back is straight all the time, you would form a vertical “plumb line” from the top of your head to your center of gravity, which is about two inches below your navel. 

Think about the “bubbling spring” – The “Bubbling Spring” is the chi (or energy) node under the foot, just behind the pads. This is the entry point of chi flowing up from the ground. Keep your feet grounded when the moves require you to do so, to the point that you are pushing your feet into the ground. Not only it maximizes the flow of chi to the body, it also makes balance very easy.

Spread your toes slightly – Together with the Bubbling Spring, splaying your toes does make a difference to the way that you balance—especially whenever you stand on one leg.

Practice in fluid and constant motion – In Tai Chi, the moves are not done separately wherein you stop in between them. The end of one more should flow seamlessly into the next.

Tai Chi moves are circular – As you get more experienced with Tai Chi, make hand movements more circular in motion. For instance, in “Grasp the Sparrow’s Tail,” instead of moving your arm down to your opposite hip in a straight line, do “scooping motion” in a circular motion. Not only it increases the fluidity of the motion, it also bring expression into the form.

All forms are not rigid – As you become more experienced, you could bring your own expression into the moves, making it more personalized.

Think of the yin and yang – Inward moves are the yin (passive), so pull it into your body; while outward motions are aggressive (yang), so you should push them out. Breathe in as you pull in, breathe out as your push out.

Concentrate on your breathing – Do this once you have memorized the movements to the point where they have become automatic to your body. Slow down your breathing, taking long inhalations and exhalations.

Always be relaxed – You body should be calm during Tai Chi, especially your arms. Your hands should never be rigid, but always limps or relaxed. 

Move as slow as possible – Essentially, move at the pace that suits you. As you master Tai Chi, you can begin to slow down.

Some moves may not be applicable to all – For instance, movements that require raising the legs are not easy for those with rheumatic or arthritic problems, or among flat-footed people. If you encounter such a problem, learn to adapt your move. You can raise your leg to the level that you are most comfortable, even if it is only just inches off the floor. Be aware of your pains, especially on your knees.

Practice in an environment that helps – Normally Tai Chi is practiced outdoors such as parks or open spaces. If you are doing Tai Chi at home, create an environment that helps, such as bringing the lighting down or some quiet and soothing music. This is very helpful when there are distracting noises like traffic outside your home.

Adjust your move according to your environment – One problem in practicing Tai Chi at home is that your room may not be big enough to allow you the maximum movement. Learn to adjust your moves without compromising the fluid movement, such as making your moves shorter.

Do it often – The fundamental tip for Tai Chi is to do it a lot of times. Doing it once a week has absolutely no benefit, that is why you should practice Tai Chi everyday or at least four to five times a week. Set a little quality time aside each day and know that this is the time that you would be doing it.

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