Browsing all articles tagged with Tai Chi

The Rules of Doing Tai Chi Correctly

When you practice tai chi exercises you don’t have to get them perfect. However there are some basic guidelines that you need to enjoy the maximum health, mental and spiritual benefits of doing them.


The first thing you need to be mindful of when you do Tai Chi is how you turn directions. Most people get the hang of this when they practice in a group. However when you do them alone it helps to imagine a clock in front of you and picture a midnight, three o’clock, six o’clock and 9 o’clock on a dial. This can help prevent you from making a full spin with your body when making a quarter turn or ending up facing the south when you should be facing east.


The next big thing that you need to pay attention to when you perform tai chi is how you are breathing. This is not breathing that is done from the upper chest. It is done from the diaphragm. You will also be breathing more through your mouth then you normally would. Usually people breathe through their nose.


It is also important to take deep cleansing breaths that initiate from a place as deep in your belly as you can feel. This helps calm and relax you as well as limbers you up so you can perform the postures.


You will also be taught to hold your breath. Many tai chi masters say that the healing does not take place on the inhale or exhale but rather on the pause between either.  So you are never gulping air like a goldfish in a bowl. You are inhaling, holding your breath and then exhaling.


As a general rule in Tai Chi you will be breathing in whenever you elevate your arms and breathing out when lowering your arms or bending.


It is not speed that counts when you do tai chi. Exercises are done very slowly which at first makes people who are not used to it teeter off of their balance. You should also never find yourself breathing fast!


One rule in Tai Chi is that you should never bend your knees further than your toes. So this means that if you look down you should still be able to see them. Doing too deep of a squat is a no no in Tai Chi. This is how you build lower body strength and stability.


It is also crucial that you keep your body relaxed while you do these exercises. You should shake out as much tension from your neck, shoulders, arms, wrists, fingers, legs, ankles and toes as you can before you start.


Animal Work and Tai Chi

Author Jennifer    Category Fitness     Tags , , ,

Tai Chi is historically a form of animal work that is based on animals in nature. As in yoga, many of the postures are based on the stances that animals take. In the twelfth century there was a master named Chang San-Feng.  Chang is said to have observed five animals that are also cornerstone animals in feng shui- the-tiger, dragon, leopard, snake, and crane–and then rated them in terms of their dominance. He concluded that the snake and the crane, who find ironic strength in their ability to yield, bend or escape through the air, were the two most powerful creatures.  This is why movements in Tai Chi have such poetic names as “White Crane Spreads Its Wings.”


The result of Chang’s meditations upon the movements of both real and archetypal animals was a set of exercises with postures that took the body of the human through a graceful series of movements that mimic everything from submission to evasion to intimidation. The aggression in some of the postures is why some people think Tai Chi is militant in origin when actually the exercises were created to add some yang (relaxation and open heart) to the yin lifestyle (rigid and restricted) of ancient Chinese shoulders.


No matter how perfectly you are accomplishing the Tai Chi movements and postures your effort is all for nothing if you are not breathing properly while doing them. In addition to moving your limbs you must also breathe out as you go into each movement.  There is no huffing and puffing allowed in Tai Chi. These are the same type of deep breaths that you were taught to do in Yoga or Meditation classes.  These deep healing breaths help calm and center you as well as massage your internal organs, help your cells get rid of toxins and calm and soothe the mind.


Of course tai chi is more than just a series of perfectly executed postures. Perfection is not the aim of Tai Chi. It is getting from posture to posture that is most important. It is more about improvement at your own pace. Each movement must be flow into the next and the movements are not to be rushed. They are to be performed at a gentle, graceful pace so that one movement flows naturally into another, like the movement of water.  Doing these movements with a crowd also helps you to connect to group mind and be in sync with others. In essence it teaches you to go with the flow!