What is Tai Chi and why do it?
Tai Chi Chuan Yang Style is a soft and gentle form of exercise suitable for all ages. The initial attraction of Tai Chi practice may lie in the beauty and grace of its movements. It can also be continued into quite an advanced age without danger. Tai Chi has many health benefits because through the use of slow and soft movement the body is relaxed and free from stress. This also allows the body's natural energy called 'chi' to flow through the meridians or channels revitalising the energy throughout the body.
Tai Chi is practised by millions of people world wide and in Oxfordshire you have the opportunity to join in a Tai Chi class. Each session begins with soft and relaxing warm-up exercises (Qi Gong), followed by practice of the form. The form is a series of 73 consecutive moves performed slowly.
The initial attraction of Tai Chi practice may lie in the beauty and grace of its movements. Tai Chi Yang Style can also be practised into quite an advanced age without danger. It is practised very slowly, and has therefore sometimes been referred to as "meditation in movement". Tai chi is taught in these classes with much emphasis on posture and balance. It is largely non-contact but the martial defence elements behind every movement are explained to help with their learning.
You may have read articles in the press recently stating that it is good at reducing blood pressure. This has also been referred to by local general practioners as a way of improving your health. There are many health benefits. One of the most important and first benefits gained is improved posture. Continued practice can lead to improved energy circulation and increased suppleness. Joints are exercised and kept mobile. Practice can also increase concentration, to name but a few.
Have a listen to Radio 4's 'Just One Thing' - with Michael Mosley - https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m001hf9h. How Tai Chi can boost your immune system, rewire your brain and even reduce visceral fat. He starts off recommending learning from online videos unfortunately - but that is really not possible and you would be totally wasting your time as far as the mentioned benefits are concerned.
There are 5 family styles of Tai Chi - Chen, Yang, Wu, Sun, and Hao. They were each developed for specific purposes. Yang Style is a less athletic adaptation of the original Chen Style that was founded by Yang Lu-ch'an, martial arts instructor for the Chinese Imperial Guard. Chen Style is characterized by its explosive movements including jumps, kicks and strikes. In Wu Style the body is less centred, with forward and backward leaning to extend movements. Sun Style is more flowing like a graceful dance. Hao is a more advanced and internalised style with emphasis on controlling the movement of chi around the body. Although lessons are entirely based on the soft and gentle Yang Form, some elements of the other forms mentioned here, especially the latter, are still significant as students become more experienced. Then as experience progresses some students like to add weapons like sword, fan or stick to their repertoire.
"Inwardly make the shen [spirit of vitality] firm, and outwardly exhibit calmness and peace."
"The softest will then become the strongest." (Tai Chi Classics)