Tai chi is a “soft” form of martial arts that originated in China almost 500 years ago. It is a system of slow, meditative, physical exercises designed for relaxation, balance, and health. Tai chi differs from other types of martial arts in that the movements do not really exert force. Instead, practitioners absorb force softly and then move with that energy to redirect it. Through a series of slow, rhythmic exercises that emphasize balance and coordination, practitioners work to balance the body’s opposing principles, yin and yang. The movements are slow and intentional and involve sweeping arm motions.
Tai chi requires focus, concentration, and self-awareness. Some people refer to it as a moving meditation. Tai chi improves balance, stimulates the immune system, improves endurance promotes relaxation, and cultivates inner energy. The practice was designed to increase health and longevity.
Tai chi is a relaxing and gentle form of movement that is accessible to people of all ages and abilities. There are really no contraindications for practicing it—even those sitting in a wheelchair can benefit from moving their arms and practicing their breathing.
Most Western beginners of tai chi learn the standard “24 Form,” which is a series of 24 movements that can be performed in about four to eight minutes. If you’re interested in practicing tai chi, look for a teacher who has been practicing for many years and who studied under a qualified tai chi master. With a burgeoning interest in tai chi, there are qualified instructors all over the world. Check with your local fitness center, yoga studio, or martial arts school to find a tai chi class.