5 Important Things About Tai Chi For Beginners
5 crucial things that every Tai Chi Beginner should know.
What is tai chi?
Tai chi is a form of Chinese martial art that is revered for it’s health benefits and defence training. Most of the health benefits associated with Tai chi are mental and emotional although Tai Chi also makes for an excellent physical exercise. If you’re considering taking on Tai Chi, there are 5 important aspects of Tai Chi that every beginner should be aware.
1. The different styles
Chen style tai chi is the most senior and oldest style of Tai Chi. It is characterised by the spiral movements (Silk reeling) which flow from the feet to hands and quick burst strikes, kicks and jumps. The Chen style stance is Low and study.
The Yang Style is the most commonly practiced form and the second most senior form. It focuses on slow, relaxed and graceful movements which makes it ideal for beginners. Most Tai Chi classes teach this form.
The Wu Style is the second most popular of the five and fourth in terms of seniority. It borrows any of its traits from the Yang style with the main differences being in the stance and use compact movements.
The Sun Style was developed as a combination of various forms of Tai Chi styles and other martial arts. Sun style tai more resembles a graceful dance with flowing movements swift steps and circular hand movements.
Hso style is the least commonly practiced form among the five styles. It is very focused on the channelling of qi and the flow of internal energy. It is difficult to master and there are fewer tai chi classes teaching this style and it’s not recommended for those just starting out.
2. The benefits of tai chi
Tai Chi has numerous physical and mental benefits supported by research. It is popular among adults and the elderly for its health benefits and low impact nature.
Tai Chi is touted by devout practitioners as a stress reliever. The relaxing, gentle movements along with emphasis on mindfulness helps to reduce stress and anxiety.
Reduced stress and anxiety is directly linked with improved mood. The stress relieving benefits of Tai Chi can result in a noticeable change in your mood.
Reduced stress and anxiety and mindfulness can also lead to restful sleep. Research has shown that those who were prescribed Tai Chi classes saw an improvement in the quality of shut eye.
Although Tai Chi is not cardio intensive, you would be wrong to think this relaxing art cannot help you lose weight. A stronger more disciplined mind, means you can make better choices and improve your overall lifestyle. Regularly practicing Tai Chi also has does burn calories and help tone abdominal and leg muscles.
Another benefit of the mindfulness aspect of Tai Chi is it improves cognitive performance in adults with cognitive impairment. Along with reduced stress, practitioners can focus better and show an improved memory.
Tai chi styles place an emphasis on good posture and grounded stances. The development of the knowledge and control of internal energy (Qi) helps practitioners feel centred and grounded.
Improves Chronic symptoms
Some research has shown that Tai chi may complement traditional methods for management of certain chronic diseases main fibromyalgia. The management of stress and anxiety plays a big role in the bodies ability to heal.
3. Levels of development
There are several levels of development of the journey to learning and mastering Tai Chi.
Level One: Control of the Body
The first stage is intended to get you familiar with the basics of posture, breathing and mindfulness. Doing so will allow the beginner to become comfortable and settled into the relaxed and gentle nature of Tai Chi – allowing your energy to sink to the dan tien or energy centre.
Level Two: Feeling the flow of internal energy
Once the basics of posture and breathing have been achieved, next you will be introduced to the flow of internal energy (Qi). Practitioners are exposed to the methods of increasing their levels of Qi associated which each movement.
Level Three: Mastering the balance of internal and external
Once practitioners have gotten a feel of their internal energy and how it can be manipulated, the extent to which this can be done is taken further. A deeper dive is taken into the link between each internal movement and resulting external output.
Level Four: Output of Force
Now that you have mastered the balance between your internal Qi and external movements, it’s time to apply your new found powers. The coordination of internal/external is expressed as precise force with intent. It can be said that this stage is more combat focused.
Level Five: Ongoing Development
Tai Chi for most is a lifelong art and practitioners continue to learn something new even after years of practice. You never know, after years of practice, you may develop your own unique for of Tai Chi.
4. Real Life Applications
Practitioners of Tai Chi testify to the impact of the art in their everyday lives. This is from the health benefits such as reduced stress and anxiety, better sleep and improved cognitive performance. The combination of these positive effects can lead to numerous positive changes in one’s life.
Many have expressed an improved outlook towards life and specifically their circumstances. Being able to better deal with stressful situations and taking more decisive steps towards achieving their goals. Tai Chi has also helped some to be able to resolve conflict situations as well as enjoy enhanced and loving relationships.
Tai Chi will provide you with the means to live your life without being controlled by stress and anxiety. You’ll be able to remain within a mind space of composure and control, the Tai Chi may be your answer.
5. Where to start
You want to try Tai Chi but you’re not quite sure where to start. Below are a few steps you can take to help you ease into the process and get you started on you journey to becoming a Tai Chi Master.
Observe a class
You’re thinking about joining a Tai Chi class near you but you don’t think you’re quite ready yet to take the leap and commit. That’s okay, you can share your concerns with the instructor and enquire about observing a class. Most instructors will not mind letting you observe the class to see if you’re comfortable with the approach and atmosphere.
Taking a class
Joining a Tai Chi class near you is no doubt the most effective way to learn Tai Chi. It is cheaper than a 1-on-1 teacher and you still learn in detail. Most schools will offer a beginners class and you can also enquire about an introductory offer.
Find out about the instructor
Ideally you want an experienced teacher who is accommodating but there is no standardised training or licensing for Tai Chi teachers. This means you are best finding out as much as you can about the instructor and their classes beforehand. You can check reviews online and also ask current students about their thoughts.
Consult your Doctor
It is always advised that before you take on any new physical activity that you consult your physician. They will be able to advise you on any areas of concern and ultimately guide you towards safe practice. If your doctor is able to highlight any areas of concern, you can share these with any potential instructor who will then be able to help you even further towards accommodating Tai Chi in your lifestyle.
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