Tai Chi - Mind/Body Exercise
Updated: May 17, 2020
Tai Chi - Qigong – Meditation
Balancing - Body, Mind & Spirit
What is Tai Chi Chuan?
Tai Chi Chuan is a Mind / Body exercise that follows natural movements and principles of nature. The movements are slow & relaxed with focus, concentration and breath.
Through daily practice of tai chi chuan, one will learn and develop patience, calmness, relaxation, better balance, breathe better, focus, concentration and overall well being.
Tai Chi Chuan is moving meditation and also a martial art. Every movement is controlled by the mind and breath, sometimes referred to as internal martial art. Tai Chi practice is very good for stress and relaxation, and all movements can be used in self-defense. The exact translation of Tai Chi Chuan is “Grand Ultimate Fist.
They are many styles and forms of Tai Chi Chuan. Although different in appearance, they all share similar principles and philosophy of Tai Chi, the harmony of yin/yang. I learned and now teach the Yang family style of Tai Chi Chuan as taught by my teacher Dr John Wan-Yuin Chang. Dr Chang taught the 13 Primary Postures of Tai Chi Chuan, the Yang Style Long Form, The 37 postures, Tai Chi San-Shou partner training, Tai Chi Double Edge Sword Form and the 8 Treasures Qigong form as warm up. He would always say "Tai Chi is Qigong, but Qigong is not necessarily Tai Chi."
I've taken a different approach in teaching Tai Chi Chuan. I prefer teaching beginners to first cultivate their "Chi" with Qigong practice, then learn a few postures of Tai Chi Chuan, then continue to learn more postures until learning all 37 postures with the ablility to play each posture on both sides. This way you can grow and improve with a balanced state of mind, balancing both left brain & right brain. Refer to my online training for videos on Chi Cultivation exercises, various Chi Kung (qigong) forms, Tai Chi Circle form, Tai Chi 8 Posture form, Tai Chi Short form or 24 Postures form. Tai Chi Long Form ( Dr Chang's Form), Tai Chi Double Edge Sword form, Tai Chi Broad Sword and Tai Chi Fan form.
It takes time, patience and discipline to learn many forms and principles of Tai Chi Chuan. Everyone starts from the beginning, not knowing, not relaxed, not focused, poor balance, bad coordination, not breathing properly, full of stress, tension and even pain.
Dr Chang once said to me; "to learn Tai Chi Chuan is to learn patience", being patient with yourself, you will learn to relax and let go of your tension, you will then become aware of your postures, your movements, your balance, your coordination and also your breathing. You become focused in the moment, thinking of nothing else, except for playing Tai Chi Chuan.
Becoming a Tai Chi player is quite addicting. With sincere practice, you will soon start to feel "Chi", the harmonious flow of energy, first within your hands, then throughout your body. You will notice you are sleeping better, your balance is improving, you are more relaxed, mindful and patient with your movements, and your coordination is getting better. These feelings will grow and you will fall in love with Tai Chi. When this happens, you are now a Tai Chi player (Chi-er) and there is no end, no graduation. Dr Chang also said, "in this practice there is no graduation", we graduate when we stop breathing, we then enter the state of "wuji" or (wu chi), the empty state, where there is no discrimination and no polarities. This is why we start every practice with standing meditation, also referred to as wuji posture, standing still. We can learn many things from being still. It is said in many philosophies and in many religious teachings, "be still and know". In Taoism, it is said, standing still, doing nothing, all things are being done. In my early days of training, I had to stand still until an incense stick burnout, it taught me patience. Try standing still in wuji posture for 5 minutes or more. You must relax your body, spine straight, pelvis forward, relax your knees, shoulders, elbows and wrist, tongue on the roof of your mouth, eyes gently closed and mind focusing on each breath. Then gently smile with your outgoing breath, relaxing your facial muscles and every muscle in your body. Then go deep inside your body, smiling to every organ, and deep into your bones. This is standing meditation. "Be still and know".
When playing Tai Chi Chuan, our main emphasis should be on the principles. Body and Mind as One. Relax, breathe slowly and deeply. Movements are graceful, calm and quiet. Always maintain a connection to Heaven and Earth. Collect and store energy in your lower abdomen (Dantien).
Unlike other exercises, Tai Chi main focus is to cultivate internal energy “Chi”. Chi is the universal cosmic energy that is in all living things. When Chi is weak or stagnant in our body, we can become ill. Through the relaxed and graceful movements of Tai Chi Chuan, we learn to circulate “Chi” throughout our body, relaxing & healing our body and calming our mind.
Tai Chi is believed to: Boost the Immune System --- Slow the aging Process ---- Lower High Blood Pressure ---- Reduce the incidence of “Anxiety”, “Depression” and overall mood disturbances. Tai Chi Chuan is the most effective balance and coordination exercise in the world.