Exercise and Relax Using Tai Chi
By: Michael Appleman, CEO
The more you use Tai Chi the better you will get. You will need to do Tai Chi two or three
times a week for at least six months in order to receive the complete health benefits. It has been suggested that on the days you do not
have a class you should exercise at home for 15 to 20 minutes a day.
Prepare to exercise and relax using Tai Chi by using proper breathing and centering
of your body parts. A large part of preparing and using Tai Chi is to have a firm grip on your mind. You need to clear you thoughts and
feelings, focus your chi and tap into your potential. You will need to start with correct breathing.
Next you should put your feet apart. They should remain no further than width between your
shoulders. Place your hand on your lower abdomen. It should be approximately 2 inches below your navel. Now you can push in lightly.
Breathe in and out slowly through your nose. Keep your lips loosely together. Remember to breathe from your abdomen. If you cannot
feel your abdomen moving, push in with your hand a little more.
Focus on all parts of your body at a time. When you are comfortable and
your breathing feels normal begin to concentrate on one part of your body at a time. An important concept of tai chi is "Rooting." Try
to imagine that you have roots growing from the bottom your feet. You are becoming part of the ground. Learning how to not misplace your
balance, focus or you're centering. Try to feel your limbs swaying like divisions in the wind. Do not hesitate for fear or apprehension.
You are now rooted.
During the beginning of your Tai Chi practice you might be sore and find that you can
feel awkward. Each posture that you are taught needs to be practiced. Every time your practice the new Tai Chi postures you will become more flexible and increase agility.
Tai Chi has a few forms that your stations can take. Each style supports to a specific
form. There is a medium frame style. This style is in between the two that will be discussed below. The 2 basic tai chi forms:
Small frame style: In this style (usually Wu or Hao versions) aren't very expansive. The actions in this
style are smaller and there's less flexibility in general. The focus is on accurate inner energy to form precise actions and changes.
Large frame style: The large frame style (Chen and Yang) contains low and high distances, more affected
positions, and swinging arms. It emphasizes precise positioning of the body and alignment to channel energy.
Before you try the different Tai Chi styles you should become good at the basics.
Once you become strong mentally and physically in Tai Chi you can try one of the 4 styles. Below is the basic information on the
different Tai Chi styles:
The Chen Style: The Chen style was started back in the 13th century by
Chen Wangting. This style mixes up the tempo, going very slow and then being explosive. Chen involves health, external/internal martial
art skills, aesthetics, meditation or as an athletic/competition sport (sometimes called "wushu tai chi"). It can be difficult for beginners.
The Yang Style: Lang Lu'ch'an is the founder of The Yang Style. This is (solo)
Form, as well as the energetic jumping, stamping, and other movements in order to emphasize the Da jia but retained them in the Weapons
(sword, saber, staff and spear) forms. The Yang Style has slow, steady, expansive and soft movements suitable for general practitioners.
The Wu (Hao) Style: Wu Chien-ch'uan was the co-founder of The
Wu. In Wu, the actions are almost microscopic. This makes each movement easy to do. It does make it tough to master. The Wu focuses
on powerful flows of energy and inner, pressured movements. The movements are very slow and deliberate.
The Sun Style: Sun Lu T'ang founded The Sun. Sun was a master
in the two martial arts: xingyiquan and banuazghang before he began to teach The Sun Style. The Sun-style ranks fourth in popularity and
fifth in terms of seniority among the five styles. The Sun-style is considered to be part of the umbrella of the Sun style internal martial
arts development by Sun Lu T'ang.
The Woo Style: Woo style is not very widely used. It will be difficult
to find a teacher that practices the Woo Style.
Listening to your body is a very important part of Tai Chi. If the movements feel uncomfortable and/or painful
you might want to ease up. Also if you feel dizzy, short of breath or suffer from headaches you should stop and speak to your doctor.
Tai Chi is a safe exercise for almost anyone. As a burn survivor if you are suffering
from limited mobility or suffer from medical conditions you will have to speak to the master instructor about making adjustments. You
will be able to modify positions that will work balance limitations, chronic pain, injuries and joint swelling.
If you try out Tai Chi let us know how it works for you.
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