“As long as one has three square feet of space, one can take a trip to paradise and stay there to enjoy life for thirty minutes without spending a single cent.” ~ Master T.T. Liang
Everyone’s method for life tuning may be a little different. Some can sit in a catatonic pose for hours. Others need to climb a red oak.
One thing is clear, you won’t find your method without acting. In this post I offer some info on one method I personally enjoy: Tai Chi.
What is Tai Chi?
Tai Chi, with many alternative spellings [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tai_chi], is an internal chinese martial art practiced by millions worldwide. Most practitioners use its method for stress relief, rejuvenation and overall physical health. A small select study the self-defense applications hidden within each posture. It’s movements are graceful and studies have shown that there are numerous health benefits.
Why Tai Chi?
I enjoy Tai Chi because it challenges me to be present while in controlled movement. Not too fast, not still. For those that want to practice meditation and can’t seem to sit still, try tai chi. You might find that it provides a good balance of movement and inward focus.
It is also a low impact exercise. This means that even after two knee surgeries and a chronic shoulder injury I can still participate in the fun. Move over cross-fit!
Don’t take my word for it. Do a google search and you find that others are writing about how Taich helps:
- Decrease stress
- Increase aerobic capacity
- Increase energy
- Increase balance and agility
- Increase muscle strength
- Enhance quality of sleep
- Enhance immune function
- Lower cholesterol
- Improve joint pain
- Just to name a few things
What should I do to get started?
Okay, now for the three steps to prepare yourself.
1. Physical readiness. The first few weeks of practice will feel strenuous on your legs. Continuously holding the thighs in flexion is something few people do often. Even if you play high impact sports, this can still be challenging.
Try this: Practice a few wall sits a week before starting your practice for 2-5 minutes each day. This can help prepare your legs for the exercise.
2. Mental Readiness. Slowing down can be a challenge. It is so awesome when you get the hang of it. Your mind will be trying to process many things at one time when you begin. Relax and let things be. You will mess up some postures. You will forget what goes next, which foot goes where. It’s okay. Also, don’t forget to breathe. It helps.
Try this: The traditional method is to have you stand in a “stand like a tree” posture for the first few months. The reason for this is to get your mind and breathe ready before you move. Many schools skip this part in order to appease are need to get moving. Try holding this pose for 10-30 minutes three times a week when you get started.
3. Don’t worry so much about style. It will be easy to get caught in the history and competition of family styles. I recommend letting stay where it is (in the past). The core principles of tai chi stay the same through the family. For your reference, the major family styles are Chen, Yang, Wu and Sun. There are several sub-sects and variations. Too much to get into in this post. Trust me.
Try this: Learn the core principles and go try classes from a few different styles.
Bonus: An extra bonus is a lesson I learned during a tai chi, qi gong workshop many years ago. “Align the spine.” I’ll explain in one of the upcoming newsletters. Don’t forget to subscribe 🙂
Have you tried tai chi? What has been your experience?
Did this post inspire you to want to try?
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