4 T'ai Chi Forms for Kids

How to workout with your kids using this slow-moving meditation exercise

When we think of t'ai chi, we envision senior citizens in a park following the slow moving, graceful postures of a t'ai chi instructor. But look again — tai chi for children is growing in popularity as instructors are modifying t'ai chi routines to suit children’s unique physical and learning requirements. Why? Because many believe that t'ai chi enables kids to strengthen their meditative faculties in an engaging physical way, thereby fostering increased concentration and focus. While team sports and competition are beneficial for children in their own ways, t'ai chi is an individual sport in which children can improve muscle coordination and balance while nurturing patience and strengthening concentration.

Here are four easy t'ai chi poses with tips on how to make them appealing to kids.

Needle at the bottom of the sea

How to do it:

  • With your left hand at your left hip and your right hand in front of your body palm facing up, shift your weight to your left foot and move your right foot just behind the heel of your left foot.

  • Transfer your weight back onto the right leg, being sure to bend the right knee moderately.

  • At the same time as you draw your left foot forward with the ball of the left foot touching the ground and knee slightly bent, sweep your right hand down and to the right back by your right ear, then drop it down in front of your body with fingers pointed downward.

  • While the right arm is moving, the left hand circles the left side of your body, passing across your face and ending at its starting position at your left hip again.

How to make it appealing to kids: Play up the imaginative images that you are fishing for a needle that is at the bottom of the sea when teaching this t'ai chi posture to kids. And throughout this pose, be sure to tell your child to keep his eyes gazing slightly downward as if always searching for that imaginary needle.

Hands strum the lute

How to do it:

  • Start facing forward with your feet at shoulder-width distance.

  • Shift your weight to your left leg and draw your right foot behind your left foot.

  • Moving the weight to the right foot, float your left leg forward and up with your toes pointing up and raise your left arm until your left hand is level with your nose.

  • Imagine you are a puppet and your left leg and left arm are connected with a string. At the same time as you are moving your left arm and leg, turn to the right and drop your right hand down and around to the right to the inside of your left elbow.

How to make it appealing to kids: What kid doesn't love music? At some point in time, we've all imagined ourselves as rock stars, which is what makes Strumming the Lute a particularly appealing posture to kids.

Closing form

How to do it:

  • Stand with your feet forward hips’ distance apart.

  • Reach both arms forward, palms facing down.

  • Gazing forward, lower both arms slowly to your sides, transfer your weight to your right foot and step your left foot closer to your right.

How to make it appealing to kids: Adjust postures and speeds to suit the unique needs of children. Closing form is an important traditional pose that your child will most likely learn in class.

Other popular t'ai chi poses for kids

T'ai chi for kids often incorporates animal postures to stimulate the imagination. T'ai chi poses such as Wild Horses Share the Mane and Stroking Bird’s Tail are popular t'ai chi moves for children. There are many educational DVDs that are made specifically for children.

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