I have been wondering about Tai Chi for quite long. I heard about this exercise cum meditation some 10-12 years ago, and I was quite curious. But life happened, and it is only now, after so many years, that I got some time to look into this ancient art form.
Tai Chi, short for T’ai chi ch’üan or Tai ji quan, is an ancient Chinese martial art, that is practiced for both defense and health benefits. Today, Tai Chi has gained popularity worldwide. Many people now follow this technique as a remedy to various health related issues. In fact, it is almost as popular as yoga. It is a relatively “soft” martial art form (as compared to karate or kung fu) and is effectively a meditative experience. Though slow-paced, you tend to burn more calories in a session of tai Chi than an energetic sport like surfing. Along with losing calories, you also increase your vote strength, concentration and flexibility, plus improve your health by reducing stress, depression, anxiety, regulating blood pressure and curing insomnia and body aches.
Great, isn’t it?
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How do you Work out ‘Tai Chi’ way
Let’s see some basic Tai Chi steps for beginners, though it is always recommended for you to perform these exercises under a trained instructor
As with all other martial arts and exercises, you need to warm up first. Warming up is important not only to make your body flexible, but also concentrating your mind on your body and being in tune to its needs. A warmed up body is guaranteed to relax your mind and increase your state of well-being. The most basic Tai Chi warm up is called the waist loosening exercise. Stand with your legs slightly wider than your hips. Keep your arms by your sides and your feet parallel. Then rotate your hips to the right and then left, and let your arms follow the movement. Once your body has warmed up a bit, include your neck, shoulders and spine, making each action fluid.
The windmill is one of the basic Tai Chi exercises. It increases flexibility of the body, especially the spine. To do this exercise, you should stand with your legs slightly wider than your shoulder width. Let your arms hang loosely and your shoulders relax. Bring your hands in front of your body, near the public bone, with the fingers pointing downwards. Then raise your arms over your head slowly, fingers pointing up and inhaling as you go. Stretch and arch your back slightly backwards. Now exhale and bend forward slowly. Bend from your hip and let your arms hang loosely before you. Inhale and return to starting position.
Knee roll is recommended to people who have knee ailments like arthritis, as it is very beneficial and also improves balance. Start by standing with your legs slightly apart and bent a little at the knees. Rest your hands on your knees, with fingers pointing towards each other. Rotate your knees in a circle first in the clockwise direction, then anticlockwise.
The hand exercises in Tai Chi are simple, but promote flexibility in your shoulders, arms and fingers. First, stand with your legs a bit wider than shoulder width. Then raise your arms at shoulder level, parallel to the floor. Stretch your arms as much as possible, then start rotating your wrists clockwise and then anticlockwise.
This posture is done at the end of a practice session to balance your energy and increase the feelings of relaxation and peace. Stand with your legs hip width apart. Relax your shoulders. Then bring your hands in a cup position, with palms facing up, in over your pelvis. Close your eyes and inhale. While breathing in, imagine you are pulling all your energy inside your body while you bring up your hands to your chest. Next, exhale and imagine you are pushing your energy down while you move your hands downwards. Do 5-6 reps.
Also read: Benefits of regular yoga practice
Tai Chi is an incredibly liberating experience. Not only do you burn calories, but you also improve your physical, spiritual and mental health. What more do you need from a “martial arts” form? You can check out this Tai chi practice session for the beginners –
Have you ever practiced Tai Chi? Share your experiences with us.