3 T'ai Chi Fundamentals

What you need to succeed at t'ai chi

Interested in learning about t'ai chi, which originated in China as a martial art? According to the American Tai Chi and Qigong Association, t'ai chi is sometimes called moving meditation because the person practicing t'ai chi moves his body in a slow and relaxed manner while meditating and breathing deeply. The Association adds that t'ai chi positively affects the flow of qi, pronounced “chee,” a vital energy. According to the American Tai Chi and Qigong Association, the three fundamentals of t'ai chi are movement, meditation and deep breathing. Learn about tai chi, including its fundamentals and key movements, as well as tai chi steps.

Movement

One t'ai chi fundamental is movement. In t'ai chi, each movement flows gracefully into the next, creating forms or routines, according to the American Tai Chi and Qigong Association. Proper alignment is key to t'ai chi movement. Correctly aligning the body cultivates steadiness and balance.

According to the Association, some movements resemble the motions of birds or other wildlife and were subsequently named after those animals. The number of movements involved in texercises, or sets, can vary. The Tai Chi and Chi Kung Institute teaches its beginning students the Yang Tai Chi in 24 Forms, or Beijing 24. However, the American Tai Chi and Qigong Association says that basic forms incorporate 13 movements into the routine, and more difficult forms can involve many more movements.

Meditation

Another fundamental, according to the Association, is meditation. The slow, deliberate motions of t'ai chi are conducive to meditation, allowing those who practice t'ai chi to remain fully alert and focused on the movements. The Tai Chi and Chi Kung Institute indicates that concentrating on your breathing and completely engaging in the movements helps clear your mind and increase relaxation.

Deep breathing

The third fundamental of t'ai chi is deep breathing. The Association reports that breathing is especially important because it promotes relaxation by increasing the flow of oxygen and nourishment to the whole body and stretching the core muscles. The Tai Chi and Chi Kung Institute states that deep breathing is often performed in sync with your body's movements, further enhancing the meditative aspect of the art.

Get step-by-step instructions

Numerous resources offer step-by-step t'ai chi instructions. One example is the book Step-by-Step Tai Chi by Master Lam Kam Chuen. Reading about it is one thing, but you can also watch and see it to learn. Some instructions can be found online, while more in-depth instructions and demonstrations are available on DVDs. A great t'ai chi DVD for beginners is Gaiam's T'ai Chi Beginning Practice which allows you to learn movement, breathing and meditation fundamentals in the comfort of your own home.

Learn about the benefits of t'ai chi

WebMD lists the following benefits of t'ai chi: reduction of pain and stiffness, improved strength, coordination, flexibility, better sleep, improved balance, increased calmness and positive outlook on life. It's clear that practicing the fundamentals of t'ai chi can improve your health and well-being.

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