Tai Chi Chuan

Tai Chi ChuanOne regimen in Traditional Chinese Medicine that is done to promote and enhance the flow of energy in the body is Tai Chi Chuan (also known as Taiji Quan in different phonetic spelling). It makes use of slow and flowing gestures to boost strength, tone muscles, and improve one’s flexibility, coordination and balance.     

Although the movements in Tai Chi Chuan are very low-intensity and low-impact, practitioners believe gestures get rid of obstructions in the pathways to allow the proper flow of vital energy.

Movements in Tai Chi Chuan imitate those that are found in nature such as animal movements to connect man to the natural world. The gestures are also in pairs of opposites, for example, thrust and yield. It seeks to balance opposing forces to achieve overall harmony, which is the basic concept of Yin and Yang in Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Aside from movement, the other components of Tai Chi Chuan are meditation and deep breathing. Meditating is integral in Traditional Chinese Medicine to calm the mind, improve concentration, reduce stress levels and thereby lower heart rate and blood pressure. Deep breathing is done to expel stale air from the body along with toxins and breathe in fresh air to enhance lung function. Deep breathing is also known to reduce tension, improves blood flow to the brain and increases mental sharpness.

In the West, Tai Chi Chuan has grown in popularity. It is said to bring about the effects of aerobic exercise but without the strenuous effort. It is recommended to practice Tai Chi regularly, twice a day for 15 minutes, to master the various forms and attain lasting results. Before starting a Tai Chi Chuan program, speak with a tai chi instructor regarding your health concerns so the program can be modified to suit your physical condition.

What Happens In A Tai Chi Class

A Tai Chi Chuan class is not like your typical aerobics or other Western forms of exercise class where you are asked to work up a heavy sweat. For the class, students are recommended to wear light comfortable clothing such as a T-shirt (preferably white) and track pants (preferably black) with flat rubber soled court shoes. Students can also perform the routine in their socks or even bare feet. Tai Chi Chuan is composed of many single movements and forms that are performed in even speed and in a continuous flow. The class begins with a warm-up routine that consists of mild stretches and deep breathing. The focus is to be aware of the body and to visualize the energy that flows through the meridians and the pathways of the body.

Beginners to Tai Chi Chuan will go through the basic theories of the process while learning a routine, which is basically a set of choreographed fluid movements. There are two types of routine training: the solo form which focuses on a straight spine and breathing from the abdomen while performing a natural range of slow movements. The second is called “pushing hands” which is a routine involving two persons and is basically performed for developing martial art skills. Examples of solo forms are hand forms (Wave Hands like Clouds, Grasp Peacock’s Tail) and weapon forms (Dong Yue Combined Sword, Posture Poem Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan Saber Form) while in “pushing hands” there is the “Eight Gates and Five Steps” training.

Most teachers encourage new students to take their time in learning the fundamental body alignment and movements over their center of gravity because these are crucial to the whole routine. The main idea is to be able to master alignment of the acupressure points to achieve the best body posture for the qi to flow through the body. Students are made to practice the routines repeatedly so that over time they develop accuracy in performing them. With patience and perseverance, students will begin to appreciate the quiet and gentle nature of the exercises.

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